For most of us, our kitchen is the heart of our home, and some of our best memories are made when it’s filled with family and friends. If you have an island in your kitchen, chances are this is the hub around which all the love and laughter is shared.

Since your kitchen island is such an important place in your home – and in your life — make it beautiful. Here are four quick and easy looks to inspire you.

The key to styling a show-stealing kitchen island display is to match the scale of your arrangement with the size of your kitchen and of the island. For example, many newer homes have large kitchens with islands that are so expansive, you could almost call them continents. To keep a display from being swallowed up on a bigger island, it needs to carry some visual weight. But the same display on my tiny kitchen island would be overpowering. Scale is everything!

Once you know what size your display should be, select one larger-scale accent piece to serve as the base. Then, weave in additional elements, such as seasonal decor, to create the lovely layers that make the finished tableau intriguing.

Here are four great looks to inspire you:

1. Just Desserts

I am crazy about two-tiered French dessert servers. If the truth be told, I decided to add an island to my kitchen just so I would have a spot to display a dessert server in my home. Tall and narrow, a dessert server is the perfect pick for my little kitchen because it doesn’t take up much counter space yet gives me lots of shelves to dress up with accents. And, the glass shelves make it less visually overpowering.

The snapshot above features a server just like the one in my kitchen. Here, we filled it full of lovely dishes, treating it almost like an open air china hutch. This is a fabulous way to add storage to your kitchen and show off some of your most treasured china.

The dessert server shown in this playful display is not only beautiful, it’s a bargain, and it’s been selling like hotcakes at Nell Hill’s. Here, the visual team has dressed the island for a summer party.

The dessert server, placed at the back of the display, makes a perfect backdrop for the drink and snack stations on the island. The shelves are lined with brightly colored boxes that could be filled with snacks. You could easily substitute them with  bowls of condiments for your burger bar or ice cream toppings for your ice cream sundae bar.

I just had to show you one more shot of this versatile server in action. This time, it’s part of a coffee buffet on a side table. Doesn’t it look elegant in this setting? Of all the decorating building blocks I’ve carried through the years, this piece is one of the most functional. (You can order one for yourself right now at Nell Hill’s On Line!)

2. Beauty in a Birdbath

Concrete statuary, with its aged patina, interesting lines and strong visual weight, is an excellent option for your kitchen island, no matter what size the island is. Here, my friend Marsee filled a concrete birdbath with glass balls in all sorts of sizes and hues of green. Depending upon the season, you’ll find this cute birdbath filled with different items, like gourds or seashells. It serves as an arresting focal point on her kitchen island, strong and proud but not overwhelming.

3. Urn a Second Look

Black iron urns aren’t just for the garden. They are also fabulous on kitchen islands. Here, the Nell Hill’s team has styled a kitchen island for a brunch. The capstone is a wonderful urn holding a medley of fresh fruit. I love working with urns because you can change them in a snap, reinventing their look for special events or to reflect the season. For instance, for fall, simply place a fat pumpkin on top of an urn and your kitchen island display is done! For the holidays, fill it with tree ornaments or large pinecones painted silver and gold.

One of the secrets to making your fresh fruit displays look so professional is to place a layer of moss between the top of the urn and the fruit. You could also use Spanish moss, letting a few tendrils trail down.

4. Dough Bowl Bliss

Aren’t wooden dough bowls amazing? We still can’t get enough of these big beauties at Nell Hill’s because you can reinvent them again and again, making them one of the best investment pieces you’ll find. Wooden dough bowls are particularly perfect for kitchen island displays because they are long and thin, giving you lots of visual weight without eating up precious counter space.

In this unusual kitchen island display, we’ve filled a dough bowl with brightly colored pottery. The reason this display works is we’ve mixed together a variety of sizes and shapes, but kept our color palette harmonious, centering around the warm hues of gold and orange. For added texture, we tucked in a few rolled up pages from old books and magazines. I’m hot on this look right now, and we’re doing it in displays all over the stores.

Another great way to style your wooden dough bowl is to fill it with a line of potted ferns, a mess of ceramic balls, an arrangement of chunky candlesticks or seasonal items like gourds or pinecones.

Next Week … With your kitchen island looking fantastic, you’ll be ready to turn your creative energy toward creating a simple, leave-on centerpiece for your kitchen table. I’ll show you some great looks next week!

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21 Responses to “Island Paradise: Four Ways to Style Your Kitchen Island”

  1. Peg boova Says:

    I would like to purchase a dessert server from Nell hills
    Could you please provide information?
    Many thanks
    Peg boova

  2. Ethel J Craig Says:

    Your blog says that the French Style Coffee Server may be purchased at Nell Hill’s online. I’ve looked everywhere and I am not able to locate it. What part of the on line store is it at? Thank you.

  3. Mary Carol Says:

    Peg and Ethel—If you go to our website, click on online shopping(at the top of the page), then click on ‘accents’ (at the bottom of the page–click on ‘view all’). You will find the Metal and Glass shelf–HD 5841 for $86.00–to order online. If you would prefer to come to the store–at present, they are at our Briarcliff location.

  4. Ethel J Craig Says:

    Thank you Mary Carol. I thought the Blog was speaking about the beautiful marble topped side table. I see now that the glass tiered item is on top of the marble topped side table. Do you sell the marble top side table at Nell Hill’s? If so, what is the price? Thank you!

  5. Alice J Molisani Says:

    Mary Carol,
    Thank you for such inspiring ideas.Thank you, thank you and another thank you. I look forward to your presentations each Wednesday.
    Now, would you please tell me where I can see and possibly purchase the beautiful hanging light (two lights on the brass rod) you are featuring this week. I have had a hole in my ceiling for the past four years, knowing that someday I will find IT..or IT would find me. I live in Michigan so will need to ask some questions about it’s size, etc. but I think this light fixture could be my true love.

  6. Natalie Says:

    mmmmm I’ve looked twice and did not see the metal and glass shelf.

  7. Rachel Waldrop Says:

    I’ve looked several times and did not see the glass and metal shelves and I really did want to purchase them.

  8. Dee Says:

    I would like to know the source of the hanging brass light fixture over the island in the first photo.

    We are in the midst of a kitchen remodeling and this is what I have been looking for!

    Thank you for your continued inspiration and impeccable good taste.

  9. Mary B. Says:

    Love the dessert server. The one on-line is a little large for my island,does it come in a smaller size?

  10. Jane Bram Says:

    Alice and Dee,
    The light fixture can be found at Circa Lighting, look online for it. They have different and unusual light fixtures. My daughter, Kate, has two of them hanging over her kitchen island. They are beautiful!

  11. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Natalie and Rachel—I am sorry you couldn’t find the glass shelf piece. It is under ‘accents’ on the online shopping. Don’t forget to click on ‘view all’ to see all the pages under ‘accents’. It is #HD–5841, and sells for $86.00. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any more questions @877-746-4320.

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Thank-you Jane for your response to Alice and Dee—love blogging, everyone helping everyone.

  13. Jane Bram Says:

    Mary Carol…your welcome!!

  14. Janet Weber Says:

    Hi Mary Carol – I’m interested in the white wrought iron french pastry table. Do you sell it, and what are the dimensions? Also, what is the price? Love, love, love your Atchison stores! We all appreciate you taking the time to help the rest of us with our decorating dilemmas. Thank you so much

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Mary B. I am sorry the two tier server—available online—does not come in a smaller size.

  16. Mary Carol Says:

    Janet—That particular french pastry table pictured in the blog this week is a one of a kind and ‘sold’ this week. We do have another vintage one in the Briarcliff store at the moment–alittle over 4 ft.(L)x 2 ft.(D) and sells for $1,350.00. Call the store for more details—877-746-4320.

  17. gina morgan Says:

    I don’t see the brass lighting and rod at circa lighting. I love what is displayed in the first picture of the kitchen island . Can anyone help ?
    Thank you … Gina

  18. Glinda Reynolds Says:

    I have very limited counter space so thought that I would try the dessert server. What a wonderful find! I not only freed up my counter space but am now able to display favorite serving pieces and foods! Thank you for your weekly blog. The information we gain is helpful and enables us to keep our homes fresh and fun!!!……Glinda

  19. Amy Helterbrand Says:

    Mary Carol, you are inspiring me to move back towards the sensibility of a more southern traditional style, Over the last 5 years I have deleted (boxed up and stored in my attic) many of my more tradition accessories layering in more modern pieces. I’m now going to began a hunt for vintage and antique prints and start displaying unique collections on my kitchen island. You are a great inspiration. Keep the emails coming!

  20. Paula Says:

    I just ordered the dessert server for our son’s first birthday party! I can’t wait to use it for our cupcakes and elephant themed toppers :)

  21. Mara Thomas Says:

    I just picked up an island that i just found out was part of group. When i went to the warehouse to pick it up i was looking at the lighting fixture. I was wanting to look at the whole group but have been unable to dothis online. Is there another website that has the large furniture. i have not been able to find any except chairs and ottomans. This is a rustice island with the look of old barn wood (pine) with blue stone top. I would be interested in companion pieces. Thanks

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