We spend about half of our lives in bed. And the other half? Most of us spend a good portion of it around the kitchen island. Think about it: At a dinner party, where would you plant yourself? The same goes for when you’re swinging at a friend’s place. In fact, many of my childhood memories include eating huge bowls of ice cream while swinging my legs from a chair on the island. The point is, this part of the home is basically camp, which means kitchen island decor ideas are about more than just aesthetics, they’re about decorating a craft pole for a gathering.
Since so much happens on a kitchen island—from cooking, eating, and drinking wine to playing cards, doing homework, and communicating with your partner—the focus is on allowing plenty of negative space while adding just the right amount of utensils and pretty things. Much like a coffee table, the kitchen island is a place to express creativity.
Featured image by Molly Culver.
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It should be noted that kitchen island decor ideas vary according to lifestyle. If you’re a home chef, the focus should be on giving yourself ample room for slicing and prepping (if your other countertop real estate doesn’t allow for that). If you’re more of a host, the island is perfect for giving people a place to hang out. (Think of it as a bar.) Or maybe you need this multi-hyphenate to offer all of the above plus your home office functionality. Whatever the case, these kitchen island decor ideas cover the spectrum.
11 kitchen island decor ideas
Figure 1: Vessel view
If there’s one place to display a great wooden bowl or bowl, it’s the kitchen island. Gather fruits and vegetables that can be kept at room temperature, display them in your favorite bowl, and place them in the center or side of the island. Placing fruit of every color, such as a green apple, adds a splash of color.
#2: Floral highlights
Fresh flowers are always uplifting, so it’s best to place them in a major focal point. Gather seasonal flowers or dried stems in a sculptural bowl and place it in the center of the kitchen island. This will provide color, dimensions and height. Keep flowers pruned to extend their life.
#3: Make it comfortable
With the kitchen island being a mainstay, you and your loved ones will likely be sitting there often. Choose comfortable seats and think about cushions. The more comfortable the seating, the more people will stay in for a conversation.
Figure 4: Layered plates
Cutting and assembly boards deserve to be on display. Keep the boards ready for chopping, prepping, and impromptu meals on cheese boards by stacking them neatly on the kitchen island, off to the side.
No. 5: Rely on simplicity
If utilitarian is the name of your kitchen island game, aim to keep counter real estate uncluttered and free between uses. This can mean keeping fruit and the like in a bowl or keeping the space completely free, which works well for setting up a temporary home office.
Number 6: Let it be light
Good lighting brings energy, beauty and warmth. Pendant lights above the kitchen island cast buttery rays perfect for this trifecta.
No. 7: Weave in a tapestry
What do woven placemats, linen tablecloths, and pebbled ceramics have in common? texture! Group these items, or any kitchen or dining decor item, in the same neutral hues to increase the look and feel of your kitchen island.
No. 8: Use what’s below
Many islands offer one or two open shelves below. This is a perfect place to add jute baskets to store placemats, empty vases, and even extra pantry items. If the items are visually pleasing, give them a home here.
Figure 9: Ground tray
A kitchen island provides an ideal place to gather favorite items, from plates to vases. But if these elements differ aesthetically, the look can be disjointed and messy. deadlock? Simple tray. Placing grouped items (ideally three) on the tray results in immediate cohesion.
#10: Show off your cookbooks
It’s no secret that we love cookbooks and reach for them daily. Since a culinary library is its own mainstay, consider aligning it or stacking it on the kitchen island for easy access and coffee table-inspired reading for guests. Just be sure to keep the collection short and limit it to less than six books.
#11: Add something quirky
An old friend always kept a deck of playing cards in a bowl on her kitchen island. It was unconventional, unexpected and always entertaining. Every time I sat down, I ended up in a card game with myself or others. So don’t be shy about putting up something interesting, whether it’s a surface, a unique piece of sculpture, or a picture. A conversation starter in the kitchen that makes gatherings last.