Kitchen islands are command central. Playing host to everything from homework to happy hour, islands are often the most popular spot in the house — as well as a stunning showcase of style.
"It used to be that islands played an important role in allowing homeowners to gain more countertop for cooking, but it's really taken on a whole new life in today's kitchen," said Stephanie Pierce, director of design and trends for MasterBrand Cabinets, "it's more about creating a focal point within the space for social and family interaction, in addition to the food prep."
Designer Denise Bosley, owner of Denise Bosley Interiors in Sierra Madre said, "If homeowners can fit an island, they will have an island."
In many cases, the bigger the better.
The popularity of open floor plans has resulted in larger islands that serve as a kitchen workhorse, Grand Central for socializing and a piece of custom furniture that connects spaces and creates flow.
If an oversized island is on the wish list, however, Bosley advises clients to think it through. "You have to consider things like the type of stone you want to use," said Bosley, "if you do want a really large island you're going to have seams … and some people don't like that."
Bosley said one 11-foot island she installed required a seam down the center to merge two slabs. "You don't see it in pictures, and it becomes an afterthought — then you build this big island and think, oh, boy."
"Everybody wants the beauty of Calcutta marble," said L'Esperance, "but they don't want the upkeep … this is selling like crazy."
Bosley agreed. "People want marble, but they know it's not practical for most family kitchens," she said, "we've been using a lot of quartz, and a lot of new [manufactured] materials coming out that look like marble."
Upgraded islands also boast bigger sinks. "It's not just a small prep sink anymore," said Bosley. "People are using them to wash dishes and share during prep."
Divided sinks are out too, L'Esperance said: "Everybody wants the big trough, farm sinks in stainless steel or enamel."
The biggest news in islands, however, is color.
"The island is a great opportunity to provide some personality with color or warmth with wood tones, so we are seeing islands being utilized a lot as an accent element," Pierce said.
"Everybody wants to paint their cabinets right now," L'Esperance said. "There's a little bit of a revolt from white… so the first project people jump on is an island because it's not like redoing all the cabinets."
"We'll do white perimeter cabinets," said Bosley, "and color on the island." Navy blues, beachy shades and bold greens and blues are trending.
"Blue is definitely the number one pick for kitchen accent colors this year," said Pierce, "and it's all shades."
"Hague Blue from Farrow and Ball is beautiful," said L'Esperance, "…you know with islands, people can go a little more wild."
For your design inspiration, we pored over our photo archives for some of our favorite kitchen islands. Enjoy!
Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what's new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome.