How to Decorate a Kitchen Island the Right Way

The kitchen is often described as the ‘heart of the home.’ Whether you are an avid home cook, an amateur, or you like to indulge in your favorite take-out a little more frequently than you care to admit, most of us spend a lot of time in this space and we want it to look good!

If you have an island, this naturally becomes the centerpiece of the kitchen, and therefore a very important fixture to pay attention to when decorating. Look no further for help, as we have compiled an exhaustive list of decorating tips and product examples for you in this post.

The type of island you have will determine how you go about furnishing the area. The best way to decorate your kitchen island is to consider the features that it has and to accentuate them. This post will explain how to account for all kinds of kitchen variables such as;

  • The size of the island
  • Whether your island has a sink or a stove
  • Whether your island provides seating for casual dining
  • Maximizing the use of space for food prep
  • Other ways your island may be functional

How to Decorate a Kitchen IslandIt can be hard to decide how to decorate your island, and how to find the right balance between function and beauty. Read ahead to be inspired and plan out your perfect kitchen island setup. 

Modern kitchen island

Small vs. Large

Your island may very well take up most of the space in your kitchen. It may also be a smaller and more concentrated ‘prep’ space. If your island is on the smaller side and does not have much surface area to keep utensils and tools organized, consider having a small rolling cart or hanging storage to keep all of your necessary food preparation equipment handy. 

This rolling cart from Aogist is adorable and very useful to have.

Click here to see this product on Amazon. 

Multiple Functionalities 

Many kitchen islands serve a dual purpose- they may either have a stovetop or a sink. When decorating and organizing a sink area, it is important to keep the function in mind. There are many beautiful soap dispensers that also double as a sponge holder.   If you prefer to keep the surface clear, an adhesive caddy keeps any clutter inside the sink and also serves to hang cleaning cloths. 

This soap dispenser has a textured metallic finish and a storage compartment.

Click here to see this product on Amazon. 

You’ll also want to invest in a dish drying rack. If you wash dishes by hand often or don’t have a dishwasher, you’ll want something sturdy. However, if you only wash certain dishes or don’t hand wash often, something more sleek and sophisticated would maintain a minimal appearance. 

This roll-out drying rack by Kraus looks great and is easy to store.

Click here to see this product on Amazon. 

Whether or not your island has a sink, paper towels are a good utility to have at the ready, and you can store them stylishly in various ways. You want to make sure you get something with a weighted base for ease of use.

This paper towel holder from OXO is weighted and stylish.


Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Seating and Dining

Your island may also serve as a more casual dining area. This is common in apartments but is also becoming more popular in traditional homes than separate dining rooms or large kitchen tables. Whatever the case may, you definitely want the space to feel inviting to guests and family by warming it up with some placemats. This will also serve as protection to the surface, especially if it is a wooden island, from any food messes that may occur. Be sure to match your chairs or stools when deciding what placemats to buy. 

These Beteam placemats are heat resistant and highly recommended.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Food Preparation

By and large, the way most people use their kitchen islands is to prepare food. Keeping all of the tools you need on top of the island is practical, and there are plenty of ways to do so while keeping the design aspect in mind. Storage for knives and utensils come in many shapes and sizes. Choosing the right pieces to suit your needs is crucial, and you may want to test out several options before landing on the right one.

This knife block is elegant and uses magnets to hold your cutlery. 

Click here to see this product on Amazon. 

Cutting boards are another central piece, and one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You can choose between wooden or any other material, or a set of smaller ones that can be tucked away when not in use. If you are often cutting and preparing meat, consider a surface less prone to bacteria such as glass or plastic.

Wooden cutting boards can be gorgeous and practical when cared for properly, just be prepared to do more maintenance than other materials.

This cutting board by Greener Chef is large enough for most uses and is a beautiful island piece to leave out on display.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Pure Aesthetics

After you have considered the aspects of your island that have multiple purposes and need to be decorated as much as optimized for your daily use, you can focus on the aesthetic design. 

Since the kitchen is usually a ‘hub’ of the home, catch-all trays have become a trendy way to organize the things that would otherwise be floating around your countertops, such as keys, wallets, and other things you toss to the side once you get home. You can use a large metal bowl for a rustic look, or something porcelain and light to better match your island material.

This metal catch-all bowl will add some edge to your island while being very convenient.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Centerpieces aren’t just for weddings and formal dining tables. The right centerpiece can inspire and tie in the rest of the decorations you choose. You can use something like an ornate fruit bowl, a sculpture or art piece, or floral decoration. Some flowers bring with them a "living" feel that greenery tends to add to a living space. Clothe runners can also add dimension and coziness to an otherwise cold island surface.

This floral centerpiece will bring brightness and beauty to the island without maintenance.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

More to Keep in Mind

There are a plethora of design theme examples you can find online. Deciding what look makes you feel most at home is going to be an important step before you choose the pieces you will decorate your island with. Remember that this very vital part of your home is not only going to be one of your favorite spaces, but your guests will likely spend most of their time gathering here, too. You want to show your style and put your best foot forward when it comes to this project. 

What Other Ways Can I Use my Kitchen Island?

Maybe you have never had an island before, or you don’t feel as though you’re taking advantage of the large space it takes up as well as you could be. 

If you have smaller children, many parents are ditching the high chair in exchange for small booster seats that go directly on the island top. This makes it much easier to feed babies, as well as easier to wipe away any sticky messes since it’s all taking place on the same surface.

This seat by Bumbo is safe and recommended by many parents.

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

You can also consider doubling your island counter as a desk or workspace! Keeping a kit of things you might need nearby (laptop stand, any computer accessories, notebooks, pens or pencils, etc.) is a great way to go about this without always having things out. This will also save you space elsewhere in your apartment or home. 

How Do I Keep my Island Clean?

If you happen to have a wooden island top, and it is unsealed, you may want to consider sealing it or using a plastic or fabric tablecloth to protect it from becoming dirty. 

Most countertops can be easily cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner, but if yours happens to be natural granite, you want to invest in a specific granite cleaner for a much shinier and vibrant appearance. 

What Color Should a Kitchen Island Be?

Cookies and cream kitchen interior

There are two main approaches to deciding the color for the base and top of your kitchen island. You can use the same theme from the rest of the counters in your kitchen and carry them over to the island. Keeping the cabinet and counter colors running through the room can bring everything together. On the other hand, using a contrasting color scheme or accent colors can really bring out the presence of the island and has a greater visual effect.

What Should I Use to Decorate my Kitchen Island?

Plants, vases, drinkware, and tableware are only a few of the traditional kitchen island decorating favorites. You can leave your kitchenwares out to make the island feel more like a communal eating space. You can leave only a few artistic pieces out if you intend to present a more clean and minimal surface.

The choices are endless because a kitchen island is versatile and can be adorned for many different occasions. During the holidays you can place decorations on the island or drape them off the sides. You can change the decorations with the season and follow the theme you have present throughout the rest of the home. If your island is movable, you can change its position in the kitchen and outfit it accordingly.

Congratulations - You've Now Got a Great Toolbox to Move Forward With

Using the tips and ideas we’ve provided you with, you can be confident you’ve thought of everything. Have fun creating a wonderful space that not only feels amazing to work in but looks just as wonderful. 

If you already have an idea of how to arrange your Kitchen Island, you might be interested in List of Basic Kitchen Appliances. Just so you purchase the right appliances for your Kitchen Island.

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