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The kitchen island is a versatile piece that can be designed to serve many needs. Do you want more storage, counter space, or an extra dining area? Would a more spacious food prep area be helpful? Perhaps your dream island serves multiple functions.

The kitchen island workstation does it all. But, it's not just functional. Choosing a new island also lets you complement your decor or upgrade your kitchen design. So, review your practical needs. Brainstorm your most desirable kitchen decor ideas. Establish your budget. Then create your dream island.

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Make it extra functional with a sink or cooktop

Install a sink in your island to make food prep and cleanup more efficient. Wash and chop your produce in one handy location and make it easier to stay on top of dishwashing while you're preparing meals. Put in a cooktop to further extend the usefulness of this station. Family and friends can pull up a chair while you're whipping up delicious entrees. So, you can keep the conversation flowing, even while you're cooking.

Create a second kitchen with an island outfitted with a stovetop and sink. KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images
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Design it for double duty

Add some bar stools or a bench to create additional kitchen seating. Large units can serve as a prep station and a table at the same time. Shop for unique chairs and stools to add flair to your decor. Or paint them yourself for a more personalized look. Extra storage is another advantage. Design your island with drawers, cabinets, or shelves to extend storage space for kitchen essentials. Add a towel bar and a spice rack to each end for more usefulness.

The table extension on this island makes it suitable for use as a breakfast bar and a work station. chandlerphoto / Getty Images
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Play with shape

There's no need to limit yourself to a rectangular or square shape. Be creative. Make subtle design decisions like rounding the edges of the countertop. Or be bold and change the shape of the whole island. These options may be purely decorative or designed to fit your kitchen space better. A waterfall countertop is also a popular decor choice to consider. This sleek, contemporary design creates a dramatic, upscale look.

Use your available space to its greatest advantage with customized design. chandlerphoto / Getty Images
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Give your island two levels

Two tiers elevates your island design. It clearly defines the seating and working areas and gives you lots of design options with more visual interest. This style is better for larger kitchens that allow a huge island build. Otherwise, you vastly limit both your prep and dining space. Consider dimensions and height for optimal functionality. Bars are 42 inches high. Tables are usually 30 inches, and the standard countertop height is 36 inches.

This high end island is a beautiful workhorse, merging unique style and functionality. hikesterson / Getty Images
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Match your cabinets

Make your island an extension of your kitchen cabinets and counters. This design works with the aesthetic appeal of symmetry. It's a smart choice for smaller kitchens since contrasting colors and styles would draw attention to limited space. A themed kitchen — like farmhouse, diner, café-style — would also benefit from matching island decor.

This kitchen embraces a uniform design theme. phototropic / Getty Images
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Play with color

Brighten up a neutral color scheme with a colorful kitchen island. Choose a single bold tone, like electric red or bright yellow. Or use a contrasting color for the countertop and the island frame. Unless you have a tiny kitchen, there's no need to match the existing cabinetry. Another clever idea is to turn one side of your island into a blackboard with chalkboard paint. Let your kids decorate with chalk, note items you need to add to your grocery list or post each day's dining menu.

Bright, contrasting colors can be fun and visually stimulating. dreamtimestudio / Getty Images
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Use eco-friendly materials

Sustainability is important to the future of the planet. More people are turning to eco-friendly options in every facet of their lives. Some suitable materials are reclaimed wood, salvaged materials, and metals. Here are a few novel, eco-friendly kitchen island ideas:

  1. Galvanized sheet metal sides with a distressed wood frame and top
  2. Metal pipe frame with a countertop of reclaimed flooring
  3. Chicken wire doors and barn wood cabinetry
  4. Tin ceiling tile frame with reclaimed kitchen door countertop
  5. Salvaged wood shutters and pine frame

Using materials with low environmental impact for home renovation projects is a responsible choice.

Reclaimed barn wood is beautiful and sustainable material for kitchen islands. GrabillCreative / Getty Images
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Repurpose old furniture

Transform an old, vintage item and give it a new purpose as a kitchen island. This is another way to support sustainable, ethical home design. Choose from these popular pieces:

  • Bookshelf
  • Dresser
  • Card catalog
  • Desk
  • Filing cabinet
  • Drafting table
  • Wood pallet
  • Sideboard
  • Woodshop bench

Visit auctions, estate sales, thrift stores, flea markets, or your grandparents' attic to find hidden treasures to transform.

An old bookshelf can be easily repurposed as a kitchen island. AtipatChantarak / Getty Images
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Go minimalist

Your island doesn't have to be anything more than food prep and extra counter space. Turn a table or cart into a kitchen island. Just set it up in the middle of your kitchen and use it. If you don't have a lot of space, minimalist design is probably best. Use paint or vinyl tiles to give it some decorative flair.

There's beauty in simplicity. Vudhikul Ocharoen / Getty Images
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Choose portability

Kitchen size, budget, and necessity are important factors for choosing the right island. Happily, there's a solution for nearly every situation. Small, portable kitchen island carts are helpful options for small spaces, limited budgets, and renters. You can even move them out of the way when not in use. Some homeowners also place them next to large stationary workstations for increased efficiency. Larger portable islands with shelves and cabinets are also available from retailers.

bearded man rolling limes for guacamole recipe in kitchen shot with natural light rez-art / Getty Images

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