No man is an island, John Donne famously wrote. True, but no kitchen is truly a contemporary kitchen without a centerpiece island. Today’s island have to be hard-working, 21st century stylish and compliment their kitchen’s fixtures and appliances. And no islands are created equal.

Kitchen islands take many forms, but at its core, an island is the heart of the kitchen.

“A practical and beautiful island will be the most used area in the house,” Colleen Egan of Architectural Digest notes.

Designers say the first key of being an ideal kitchen island of today is being versatile and accessible to all members of the family. This rule means an island should be much more than a breakfast bar or lunch counter. Today’s kitchen islands perform a wide variety of kitchen duties from cooking prep to casual dining to storage. Sorry, Mrs. Brady, your kitchen island is so 1970s. Folks, ever see the Connors’ kitchen island on “Roseanne?” Yeah, don’t try to model your island after that.

“An island or breakfast bar can also work as both a storage area and a place for dining,” Sinead Trainor, kitchen category manager of LochAnna Kitchens, told “But less often they are used for actual food preparation. Utilize your island further by installing an appliance – the addition of a small sink or hob in your island will mean everyone can get involved with food prep.”

The second rule of rule of every ideal kitchen island is make sure it compliments your kitchen’s design and look. They should have the look and feel of furniture and both stand out as the centerpiece of the kitchen, while blending well with the colors and fixtures of the kitchen.

The third rule of the best kitchen islands is put function first. Islands have to work to earn the premium kitchen space they occupy. Here are jobs islands can do and design suggestions to allow them to function at optimal performance:

  1. Cleanup: Allow clearance for the dishwasher door in the open position, pull-out garbage and compost bins next to the sink, ensure easy access to dish and silverware storage, allow storage for dish towels and dish soap, incorporate dual-height counters to hide dirty dishes from view.
  2. Food Prep: Include outlets for small appliances, stage refrigerators and cooktops close by, allow access to compost bins or dispensers. Prep sink and butcher-block counters are also star features of your kitchen’s food prep headquarters.
  3. Storage: Today’s multi-functional kitchens demand islands also have space to store everything from pots and pans to cook books to children’s toys.

“The island storage is the perfect place for keeping the family organized,” designer Bonnie Steves of BJS Assoc Interior Design told

Here are The Spruce’s Top 7 Islands for 2018:

  1. Best Overall: Southern Enterprises Denning Industrial Kitchen Island
  2. Best Antique Look: Home Styles America Kitchen Island
  3. Best Expandable: Bassett Farmhouses Basics Kitchen Island
  4. Best Modern: West Elm Rustic Kitchen Island
  5. Best with Seating: Beachcrest Home Rabin 3 Piece Kitchen Island Set
  6. Best Butcher Block: Powell Color Story Black Butcher Block Kitchen Island
  7. Best for Small Kitchens: Beachcrest Home Lakeland Kitchen Island

Remember, design your island to fit your kitchen’s needs. According to Angie’s List, a basic kitchen island can cost as little as $120 while a custom-built unit that includes a sink, ventilation and cooking appliances, plus bells and whistles (like a wine fridge) can top $6,000. We highly advise against designing and building an island yourself. A professional designer is the best resource to design the ideal island for your kitchen.

Plus, the perfect kitchen island’s value is priceless.

“Kitchen island prices can’t reflect the value of increased family time gathered around the new kitchen island,” Angie’s List wrote.

A well-designed kitchen island is not just the heart of the kitchen, it’s the engine that makes a beautiful kitchen design come to life. Today’s best kitchen islands are multi-functional, stylish and the swarm hub of the room that is the heart of every home.

“The island has become the icon of the modern kitchen – the 21st century equivalent of the old-fashioned hearth,” Duo Dickinson of This Old House magazine wrote.

And today’s kitchens are adrift without a sound island built for today’s kitchen.

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