Vancouver Interior Designer: What NOT to Do with Your Kitchen Island Design

So just to be clear, I am not a kitchen designer. In other words, if you need a new footprint, or you need someone to design your cabinetry, where your spices and cookie sheets will be stored, well I am not that person.

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However, which colour? Which countertop? Floor? Which backsplash goes with granite? I’m your huckleberry!

In the literally thousands of homes I have been in, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly and to save you from the latter, here are some thoughts on your island and what you should NOT do, so here goes:

House Beautiful

1. If your island is not designed to look like a piece of furniture similar to the one in the photo above, then DON’T paint it a different colour. You will simply draw attention to the fact that it’s totally dated.

Pinterest

Personally, I’m a purist. My dream kitchen would have white counters, a white island. I’m just a white girl by heart.

2. If you are happy with the footprint (layout) of your kitchen, paint the whole thing white instead of ripping it out. And sometimes just taking out a dated, too small island and getting that piece re-designed can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your kitchen.

Spend the rest on decorating your house instead.

3. Have a dated smallish island and want to DO SOMETHING to it? This is the most brilliant idea I have seen in a long time. . .

See this island? Do NOT paint it to stand out unless you do this to it:

Before

So look! Tiny, dinky island, turn it around, extend it with a butcher block top, some new legs and Ta, Ta Da Da! So brilliant.

After (via The Nesting Game)

There are so many sad little kitchen islands in the world, I was so excited when I saw this idea!

Country Living

Even this small island looks so much better than just the flat panels with some legs attached to each side and a new countertop.

If your island is bad or you don’t have one, IKEA has some you could insert in your kitchen for a happy price! Here’s the one we put in my mom’s kitchen:

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She was on a budget so she has an IKEA kitchen but we put in this island and coordinated her countertop with it as well as added an extension for counter stools on the other side so it has this kind of look.

Pure Style Home

This kitchen re-do by Lauren at Pure Style Home is just a black table from IKEA (to tie in with her kitchen countertop) with stainless legs attached!  So really, if your island is ugly and you don’t need the storage–take it out!! This is such a good idea to improve the look of your kitchen for such a bargain!

Have a wonderful week! xo Maria

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

Which Flooring is the best for your Kitchen; Tile or Hardwood?

Is White Worth the Extra Maintenance; Yay or Nay?

White is a Snob

When is White just Right?

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  1. I definately love a white kitchen as well! I think as designers, we are so overstimulated all day long, that white is so peaceful, calm, serene after going cross-eyed perusing blogs and design magazines!!

  2. The kitchen island can certainly be awkward if not done correctly. IKEA has some great options for ideas. I’d like to redo my island and make it all butcher block – someday 🙂

    I love the Christmas cards around the kitchen door – I do the same!

  3. Fantastic suggestions!!!!! Love that you pointed out the island color thing. I just recently saw a kitchen where that thought occurred to me. Now I’ll use it as a general rule. You always educate and I love it :). Have a great week!

  4. Great ideas, Maria. You are always full of terrific suggestions – so many of them I have been able to use. My kitchen doesn’t have an island but a peninsula with a bookcase on the back – thought I was going to change it up to a sitting are, but have changed my mind as I love the storage.

  5. Maria, you are literally saving the world from bad design, one post at a time. I have been agonizing about what to do with my kitchen island in my new home I will move into next year, and once again, you are helping me to clarify this process. I will be emailing you in the near future with more details about my project so we can establish a quote. I feel like the universe has sent me your blog as some form of “design intervention”!!!

  6. Yes… what ever happened to the “kitchen table” from back in the day? I love the simple black table from Ikea.
    Also that excellent industrial light fixture in the photo from House Beautiful. Very cool! Thanks for the post!

  7. Excellent advice and I couldn’t agree more. I’m in the process of doing something similar for a client right now. Can’t wait to post the before and after photos!

  8. pretty pink tulips

    Always love your suggestions! The way my kitchen is fitted into my home…there really isn’t room for an island. But, I love seeing ones where they are done well.

    xo Elizabeth

  9. Just want to thank you for the great choices you helped me make for my new house. The walls, floors and classic grey cabinets are in and look amazing. So many people are checking out the project and everyone loves the colours together. The counter tops and black splash are still to come but the huge shower in white subway tile is a dream and everyone that sees it wants one. It is so so simple but breath taking. Great, Job, Maria! I’ll send pictures when it is all put together.

  10. I love this! We ripped out the penninsula in our home soon after moving in (thank you broken dishwasher!) and put in a HUGE island. Previous to the renovation we were supposed to eat in the kitchen, but everything was way too tight. I have six young children and we did not fit around the table, and why have two tables anyway? So we made our family room into the dining room, because it was bigger, and filled the kitchen with an island, so it is a working kitchen! Keep up the fantastic ideas!

  11. Love the blog and the the kitchen island guidance. We are in the process of painting our cherry cabinets from new construction 5yrs ago. We have birch hardwood floors, uba tuba granite, and were thinking of painting two colors in the kitchen. Top cabinetry we are thinking White dove Oc-17 and for the bottom cabinetry and island we were thinking London fog 1541 (both BM). What is your take on two tones in the kitchen?

  12. We have a large eat-in kitchen with a round antique table, big enough to gather our children, their spouses and two grandchildren with us for a casual meal. We have a pretty bay window and two walls with lots of framed art. In the work area we have added a beautiful, high end butcher block island, which coordinates well with the cabinetry. Though small, this island serves many purposes and gives our older home an updated look. If we had decided not to get this island because it is small, we would have missed out. A small island can be just perfect, if that’s what the space calls for.

  13. I have white cabinets and black granite countetops and wood floors. I am trying to find white subway tile that is a clean white with out pink,grey, or yellow undertones but isnt too stark white.I would appreciate any suggestions.

  14. Hi Maria,
    Love this post and the beautiful images. A word of caution regarding pinterest. It in itself should rarely (if ever) be listed as an image source. There is usually an original site/blog/magazine that the image (such as the 3rd in this post) belongs to. Even if it’s not linked properly on pinterest, you can “search using images” via google in order to find its place of origin. That way you are giving credit where credit is due. Pinterest is a wonderful tool, but don’t let it stop you from truely sourcing your images properly. 🙂

  15. help please. i’m reading about islands and so confused. i have a galley kitchen that opens to a 12×15 room. i thought of putting an island in this room- where you would enter the kitchen, but not sure if it will be the wrong decision.