Are Kitchen Islands Going Out of Style?

Modern shaker style kitchen white cabinetry with gold handles and square island bench

Considered a modern kitchen staple, there is a lot to love about kitchen islands. They offer food preparation and storage space, they are a spot for family and friends to gather, and they keep the host in on the action.

However, some people are facing a kitchen island-sized problem; they feel stranded. Due to the welcoming nature of a kitchen island, guests pull up a seat on one side and leave the host standing on the other for the entirety of their visit.

Does this signal the end of kitchen islands? Are they becoming an outdated design concept? Or are they here to stay?

Let’s look at why some people don’t find islands practical, what’s still to love about them and answer the all-important question: dated trend piece or timeless classic?

White modern country farmhouse kitchen with island bench featuring navy panelling and marble splashback

How Kitchen Islands Became a Status Symbol

With homeowners embracing open-plan living in recent decades, kitchens — and islands — have come to prominence. It’s taken 100 or so years, but the kitchen island has well and truly moved on from being solely a functional space.

As society has changed, the evolution of kitchen islands has reflected this. Not only are they now seen as a way to bring the family together in the kitchen, but they are also highly functional with fitted sinks, cooktops, dishwashers and storage.

Kitchen islands are an entertaining must-have, a way to show off the personality of those who live in the home with texture, pattern, colour, pendant lights and open shelves. They set the interior design standard for the rest of the home.

Pros and Cons of Kitchen Islands

A popular and practical workspace or marble monolith to work around – kitchen islands have homeowners divided.

A practical and versatile kitchen space addition

  • Set the tone of the kitchen aesthetically.
  • Provide food preparation space and storage.
  • Offer a casual dining option.
  • Replace the need for a dining room buffet or sideboard cabinets.
  • A suitable space for homework or work.

The downsides of island living

  • Can dominate the kitchen layout, especially if they are too large for the space.
  • Require a large amount of floor space.
  • Quickly become a dumping ground for the household.
  • Stools are not a comfortable seating option for guests.
  • The host is often left standing.
  • They are an awkward dining option as families end up sitting in a line.

Modern farmhouse white kitchen with natural light through skylight

Not Sold on a Kitchen Island? There are alternatives

Just because they’re popular does not mean an island is suitable for every home. Whether you don’t think it will work for your family or the kitchen would benefit from a different layout, there are perfectly acceptable kitchen island alternatives that provide plenty of counter space and storage while also looking stylish.

Keeping high-traffic areas uninhibited while still embracing an open-plan concept, an L-shaped kitchen is a traditional, timeless design that fits with an open floor plan. It’s also a space-saving design suitable for both small and large kitchens, and it embraces the kitchen triangle concept.

A galley-style or U-shaped layout can save you space and money. This also uses the kitchen triangle concept for efficient use of space and can include a peninsula as an island alternative. It may use a freestanding dining table or butcher’s block, depending on the size of the kitchen.

Contemporary Kitchen Island Design Trends

Kitchen islands have come a long way in the past few decades, but some contemporary trends prove homeowners should consider tailoring an island to suit their lifestyle and their home. Here are some fun ways to customise a kitchen island to suit your needs.

  • Design the kitchen island to look more like a dining table.
  • Use practical storage solutions for personal decor or cookbooks.
  • Mix kitchen island materials for warmth and interest.
  • Integrate smart home solutions for additional functionality.
  • Design the kitchen island to be extra long or wide for extra wow factor.
  • Be super-modern and incorporate two islands – one for work and one for entertaining.

See our article ‘The Heart of Modern Kitchens’ for expert tips and design inspiration.

Dark stone kitchen splashback

Kitchen Islands: Personal Style Not Out of Style

Functionality and style will see islands remain a popular kitchen design trend for many years to come. However, they will continue to evolve as our needs change and homeowners become braver and bolder about customising their kitchens.

Originally designed as a practical space for food preparation, some homeowners may choose to return to this idea with fully functional islands used for storage, rather than being a countertop with seating. They are also likely to continue growing, becoming a statement piece for the entire home.

With the absence of walls, an island is one way to define kitchen parameters. However, an island isn’t the most practical design for all kitchens. If your kitchen is on the small side, don’t try to squeeze in an island. Especially if it’s at the expense of a dining area. Don’t be afraid to buck the trend and choose an L or U-shaped kitchen instead.

However, if you have an open-plan home and can overcome the problems that some homeowners face, kitchen islands are the perfect addition to a contemporary kitchen.

Not Sure if a Kitchen Island is Right for Your Home?

Need help to weigh up the pros and cons of an island for your kitchen renovation? Easy Living Kitchens can help with our expert kitchen design service. Our highly creative and experienced designers can take your kitchen island ideas and turn them into a reality. Best of all, we bring the showroom to you!

For a free kitchen design consultation and quote for your Brisbane home, contact Easy Living Kitchens today at 1300 650 681.

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