The island has become the crux of modern, openplan kitchen designs. Explore these ideas for making it function brilliantly and play a starring role in your scheme. 

harvey jones kitchen island - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Harvey Jones

If you're renovating your kitchen and opting to create a larger, more openplan space, then chances are you'll be factoring in an island as part of your design. Islands have a lot to offer these types of kitchens – occassional seating, which helps your space become more social, and extra worksurface for food prep to name but a few. More than that, it plays an integral role in the layout of your kitchen to create flow. 

An island also represents an opportunity for an extra creative element in your kitchen design. Take a look at these six ideas which will make sure the island takes centre stage in your scheme. 


Martin Moore blue kitchen island in barn conversion - grand designs - home improvements

Image: Martin Moore

Standing alone from the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, the island is an obvious place to look to introduce colour. Whether you opt for something bold or something subtle, perhaps tonal to the rest of your scheme, creating definition between the island and the wall cabinetry is an effective visual trick for an openplan kitchen. 

Read more: How to use colour in a kitchen design

Uniform material 

kitchen with stone effect marble island - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Daniel Nicolas

In this kitchen scheme, the island appears almost like a monolithic slab carved from a single piece of stone. In fact, it's HI-MACS, a natural acrylic stone which can be easily manipulated to suit a range of design applications. Here, it has been used as a veneer for the island drawers, as well as heat-moulded to create a seamless sink within the worksurface itself. 

Read more: How to choose the right cabinets for your kitchen design

read a free issue of grand designs magazine

Overhead objects 

daytrue green kitchen with hanging island storage - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Day True

Something hanging over an island will help ground it in the room. A common design choice is to opt for pendant lighting – perfect for illuminating the island as task lighting; however, ceiling-mounted shelving, as used in this kitchen by Day True, is another functional alternative. In this design, a hob with downdraft extractor is used on the island too, meaning that cooking supplies can be kept close at hand on these hanging shelves. 

Moving parts 

eggersman motion moveable worktop idea - kitchen island - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Eggersman

Eggersmann's Motion, a moveable worksurface system, feature hidden rollers that enable surfaces to slide back to reveal sinks and hobs or to extend as tabletops for dining and food preparation. A clever way to add some adaptability to your kitchen island. 

Read more: How to design an invisible kitchen

Freestanding furniture

 Neptune Suffolk Medium Kitchen in Slate and Dove Grey with freestanding island - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Neptune

A freestanding kitchen island has a few benefits for your space. Firstly, it can be moved as required, offering a more adaptable space. While they won't pack in storage as efficiently as built in cabinetry, they allow for open bases, which can help your space feel larger, particularly useful for compact homes. This Charlecote design from Neptune, comes in a variety of styles to suit function - including both storage and spce for bar stool seating as required. 

Creative seating  

 roundhouse design kitchen with breakfast bar style island seating - grand designs - home improvements

Image: Roundhouse Design 

From worksurface overhangs to raised breakfast bars, the options available for creating a seating element to your island are endless. Consider a different material to demarcate the space for dining from the space for food prep and you may just keep the family's clutter at bay - particularly necessary if your kitchen does become the heart of the family home. 


For more kitchen advice and ideas, read Grand Designs magazine digitally for free now by registering your details

read a free issue of grand designs magazine



Kitchen extension ideas to improve your home

9 design ideas for better kitchen storage

How to create an efficient kitchen layout

Kevins Column

Grand Designs Live Online: Self Build & Renovation Weekend 31 July – 1 August 2021

Discover free home project advice and product recommendations from the comfort of your own home. Register now to express your interest.
Home Improvements

Why resin floors are perfect for modern living

Resin flooring is growing in popularity in modern homes – it’s ideal for open plan living, sustainable and hard-wearing. We take a closer look…
Home Improvements

Elevate your kitchen with a designer cooker hood

Ensure the air in your kitchen is fresh and well-ventilated with a stylish cooker hood to match your space and cooking needs
Home Improvements

Where to shop for luxury household appliances and white goods

Why settle for average appliances when you can have ones that make life easier and look great too? We delve into an award-winning range of...
Home Improvements

Why triple glazing is the best option for your home

Is triple glazing really better than double? We look at the potential energy savings, security and acoustic performance of that extra pane…
Home Improvements

How to successfully landscape a garden

Whether reworking an uninspiring corner in your garden or designing a spacious plot from scratch, you’ll need a strategy, a budget and some expert help...
Home Improvements

How to get the perfect gravel driveway

Gravel driveways are a classic way to finish your home’s exterior, but can drift, shift and sink, leaving a messy finish. We look at a...