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10 design ideas to make your kitchen island more of a feature

Where the space is available, island benches can be a fantastic addition to a kitchen. They usually allow for a great flow from other areas, create lots of bench space and are perfect for entertaining. Because island benches usually sit in the middle of your Kitchen, they also become a focal point in the space. This makes them the perfect place to add a special feature or to try something a bit more bold. If you're considering upgrading your kitchen, we've put together 10 ideas that you can mix and match to make your island bench stand out:


1 | Continue the profile

If you have profiled cabinetry (like a shaker or V-groove), consider continuing this to the sides and back of your island bench. I often see profiled cabinetry that stops at the doors/drawers and all the side and back panels are plain instead, which can make the island look unfinished or cheap. Continuing the profile across all sides is an easy way to elevate the look of your island. If you have a shaker profile, I recommend asking for the panel under the overhang to be broken up into even sections so that you see the repeat of the shaker profile like you would over doors.

2 | Contrast the rest

Consider doing something different to your island bench compared to what you have in the rest of the Kitchen. You can also do the island different to the back base cabinetry, but then pick up the same colour/profile again in the overheads. A few ideas to consider are:

  • Different coloured benchtops - I also like to make them thicker when I do this. For example, if my back benchtop is 40mm, I might make the island 80mm instead.

  • Different coloured cabinetry - your island bench is a great place to go bold!

  • Timber-look cabinetry against plain cabinetry - you could do this either way.

  • Profiled cabinetry to the island and flat cabinetry everywhere else

Kitchen design, Calcattu Nuvo benchtop, waterfall edges, Dulux Domino cabinetry
Brighton Kitchen - design by YDM Design Studio

3 | Wrap the benchtop

If you have selected a really striking benchtop that you want to feature, you can consider wrapping some of the sides of the island bench in it. This is normally called 'waterfall ends' and is generally done to one or both ends of the island. However, to make it even more of a feature, you can also continue this over the whole back of the island and/or under the overhang.


4 | Add shelving

If you have a lot of cookbooks or decor, you may prefer to add open shelving to the back or sides of your island as a feature. You may even wish to do some open wine storage instead! You can do this in the same colour as the rest of your island or you can choose to feature the shelves more by making them a contrasting tone or a timber instead of plain cabinetry.


5 | Make it curved

Curves have become very popular over the past few years and island benches is one area where we have seen this a lot! You can add curves to all corners of the island including the cabinetry, or you can keep the cabinetry square and just add curves to the ends of the benchtop overhang.

Timber kitchen renovation, Statuario Quartz benchtop, curved island bench, Woodcut flooring
Bonbeach renovation render - design by YDM Design Studio

6 | Tile it

A fun way to add colour and/or texture to the back of your island or under the overhang, is to tile it! You can go as subtle or as bold as you would like, but it is important to pay attention to scale - consider the size of your tile and the lay pattern compared to the area you wish to tile.

7 | Add paneling

Another way to add texture and/or colour if you don't love tiles is to add some paneling under the overhang. There are many types available, from timber battens and VJ paneling to metallic or pressed tin panels.


8 | Add a dining table extension

If space is tight and you are struggling to add a separate dining table within the room, you may prefer to add a dining table extension to your island bench. Depending on the layout of the room, you can continue it along the side of the island, or you can have it coming out the back to create a T or an L shape. However, wherever you put it, we recommend making this section lower so that you can comfortably sit on dining chairs at the extension. Because this will be lower than your benchtop, this is also a chance to do something fun by changing the colour or material of the extension - or you can keep it all the same if you prefer a more minimal look.


9 | Add legs

If you're having an overhang and you don't have any cabinetry or waterfall ends at the ends, adding legs is an easy way to make the island look more finished and create interest. You can make them a square or round post, or make them more of a frame. You can also consider doing them in a contrasting colour or material. Another place that you can do this would be a dining table extension.

Polytec Tasmanian Oak kitchen renovation, white tiled splashback, engineered timber flooring
Collingwood Kitchen - design by YDM Design Studio

10 | Add an LED strip

Adding an LED strip to the underside of your overhang is an easy way to feature your island - particularly if you have a textured cabinetry, tiles or stone under the overhang!



I hope these ideas have been helpful! If you want to find out more about how we can help you with your project, get in contact with us below:

Have a wonderful week!


Nina xx

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