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Design Advice: Selecting A Natural Stone Kitchen Island Countertop

Last updated on October 25, 2019

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Kitchen islands have practically become a necessity in the modern kitchen. It’s hard to imagine a new home or kitchen remodel without one. As the kitchen island takes center stage, choosing the perfect island countertop becomes even more important. 

Photo of white kitchen cabinets, and white marble island countertop.

Island Countertop Design Advice

We often see kitchen islands that are practically the size of a continent. Or long enough to function as a landing strip. From a countertop perspective this really isn’t a great idea. Islands that are bigger than a standard countertop material slab will need multiple slabs, and that means seams. Two slabs that abut one another on the short side can often have a practically invisible seam. On the other hand, matching seams along the length of the slab because of an extra wide island will be challenging.

The countertop material can also affect the ability of hiding the seams. A granite that doesn’t have a lot of movement across the slab will be easier to work with. For marbles, quartzite and veiny granites extra attention will need to be given to ensure the seam is as invisible as possible by matching color and veining across the slabs. Book-matched slabs (two consecutively cut slabs that mirror each other) are a good option for really large islands. 

A better option is to keep the island smaller than the typical countertop slab size. Slab sizes vary with the material, but natural stone slabs are somewhere in the 5’x10’ size. An island in this range will not need seams, and is still quite large. 

Island seating will usually need to be included in the island size. Seating requires an overhang of at least 12”-18” of the countertop slab, depending on the height. (For comfort, lower counters usually require 15-18” overhangs, while bar height counters have 12”.) Support requirements for the overhang will depend on the material, the thickness of the slab, and the width of the overhang. Some countertops may require support brackets, steel angles or actual legs.  

The Island is the Star

One popular design trend is to treat the island as the star, and the perimeter as the backup singers. One option is to install a neutral colored cabinet along the outside, and use a contrasting color or natural wood for the island. White perimeter cabinets with a navy blue island is a nice combination. In this scheme, all the countertops are usually the same. 

Another option is to use the same cabinetry throughout the kitchen, but different countertop materials on the perimeter and island. Using a bold statement slab on the island makes the countertop the star of the show. The perimeter countertop should be a very “quiet” complementary material, so it can play a supporting role.

For the most part, it’s better to do one of these options rather than both. Less is more. An island with different cabinets AND a showpiece countertop can be overwhelming. Not saying it can’t be done, it just needs to be done well.  

The Island Countertop is the Diva

If the kitchen island is considered the star of the show, then the island countertop is definitely the Diva. As always, the Diva should be chosen first. 

Start with choosing the type of stone for the countertops. Granite, marble, soapstone, and quartzite are the most popular choices. Natural stone countertops all have different advantages and disadvantages. Materials should be selected that align, not only with aesthetics, but with lifestyles and who lives in the home. A family probably shouldn’t choose a marble countertop, but it might be perfect for the empty nester.

So, who are the Divas? Quartzite, with the beauty of marble and the hardness of granite, is at the top of the list. But there are other great choices out there. Here are some of our favorite Divas. 

Quartzite Kitchen Island Countertop Ideas

Photo of Fantasy Brown quartzite slab that is perfect for a kitchen island countertop.

  • Fantasy Brown, shown above, is a beautiful choice with lots of movement.
  • Taj Mahal is another popular favorite with shades of cream, greys, and tans.
  • Mont Blanc is a great option for those looking for a marble like stone. 

Granite Kitchen Island Countertop Ideas

Photo of Pergamino granite slab that is perfect for a kitchen island countertop.

  • Pergamino, shown above, with its shades of tan and cream is a showstopper. 
  • Golden Dunes is a lovely dark grey and charcoal stone with lots of movement. 
  • Azul Bahia is like nothing else on this list. The blues and greens are so unique.

Marble Kitchen Island Countertop Ideas 

Photo of Calacatta marble slab that is perfect for a kitchen island countertop.

  • Carrara is the quintessential light grey marble. 
  • Calacatta, shown above, comes in several varieties that are all gorgeous. 

Soapstone Kitchen Island Countertop Ideas

Photo of soapstone slab that is perfect for a kitchen island countertop.

  • Noire is a dramatic black stone with white veining that is perfect for an island. 
  • Beleza has beautiful cloud-like veining. 
  • Fantasia is a lovely light grey stone with heavy white veining. 

There are so many lovely Divas for an island countertop – it can be hard to choose! We’d love to hear from you – which one is your favorite?

If you’re planning on getting new countertops, be sure to grab our Free Countertop Costs Calculator. It can help you narrow down your countertop choices and meet your budget.

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Photo collage of white kitchen with marble island countertop.

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