3 Kitchen Island Trends Designers Love (and Loathe) in 2023

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Kitchen islands bring function and style to your space like almost no other home feature. But in addition to providing extra workspace and storage and making a design statement, the kitchen island acts like a magnet. It intrinsically draws family and friends to gather around, have conversations, and enjoy a snack spread.

“Function-wise, while the kitchen has always been the center of the home, people are getting back to hosting parties in a big way, and the kitchen island is the hub of that activity,” says Denver-based interior designer Jess Knauf, principal at Jess Knauf Design. “I am seeing entertaining that is more casual and interactive these days, and focused more in the kitchen and family spaces than before.”

Curious what kitchen island trends experts say will be big in 2024 and which ones are on their way out? Here’s what designers are predicting.

The overarching trend that Knauf says she’s seeing in kitchens is that they’re moving away from being strictly utilitarian spaces. Instead, they’re dressed up like the rest of the house, outfitted with wallpaper, semi-precious stone, and custom light fixtures. As such, the islands are being treated like furniture, with wood and lacquer finishes and custom hardware. 

On a smaller budget, differentiating the island with a different color can also achieve some uniqueness, Knauf says. For example, companies like Semihandmade allow homeowners to order custom fronts for IKEA cabinet bases to help you achieve a one-of-a-kind look.

“A double island kitchen is the dream for chefs and entertainers alike,” says Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of Mendelson Group

Typically, one island incorporates a built-in sink or stovetop, while the other provides space for entertaining and barstool seating, according to Mendelson. This allows you to save countertop space for serving appetizers or allowing kids to eat at the island while you’re at work in the kitchen. For the at-home chef, the additional kitchen island allows for plenty of counter space for cooking prep or baking. Of course, double islands work best in large, open kitchens, Mendelson says.

Seamless and sleek, waterfall countertops are a contemporary design trend that continues to gain momentum. These countertops have a flat top that seamlessly continues to the floor on one or both sides or on the back of a countertop, Bob Bakes, head of design at Bakes & Kropp Fine Cabinetry, explains. The horizontal and vertical sections join perfectly at 90 degrees, so you don’t see a seam, he says.

“Stone is a popular choice for waterfall islands, but the effect can just as easily be made with wood,” Bakes says. While they don’t typically offer much in the way of storage, they are a standout design-wise. 

What Kitchen Island Trends Are Out for 2024?

Two-level kitchen islands are becoming a thing of the past, says Bakes. Much like the bi-level breakfast bar that’s also on its way out, the varying heights can break up counter space too much, and can be inefficient storage-wise. 

Instead, people are opting for a single height, and are choosing two different surface materials — like a stone and a wood finish, Bakes says.

The other kitchen island trend that’s becoming passé is the oversized kitchen island because it can feel like a waste of space in the kitchen, Mendelson says. “With an oversized kitchen island, the homeowner often can’t even reach the middle of the countertop,” Mendelson says. “This minimizes the functionality, which is the most important part of any kitchen design.”  

What kitchen island trends do you think are next up, or on their way out? Let us know in the comments below!

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