Designing the Perfect Kitchen Island

The kitchen is the heart of the house, and inevitably you find family and friends gathering around the kitchen island. Here are three important elements to consider when designing the perfect kitchen island.

Designing the Perfect Kitchen Island with Wood Countertops and Butcher Blocks
Design by Kelly Bailey of Coastal Cabinet Works

1. Function

The first step in designing the perfect kitchen island is to decide what the main function is going to be. Some kitchen islands are designed around food preparation, storage, entertaining guests, doing homework and even charging stations for devices. Islands are often designed to be used for a variety of reasons. The functionality of your kitchen island should be designed to fit your family’s daily kitchen activities. In addition to designing around what your family needs today, you also want to plan for the possibilities and create a kitchen island that can evolve as your family evolves.

Kitchen Island Design by Paul Bentham of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen Bath includes Wood Countertop
Design by Paul Bentham of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath

2. Size

After choosing the main function of your island, you can then figure out the size of the island. The size of your island should be proportional to the size and design of your kitchen. Professionals on Houzz recommend an island to have a width of 2 to 3 feet. For length, professionals feel that 4 to 7 feet is best, depending on how much storage and how many appliances you plan to incorporate.

If your kitchen already has a lot of cabinetry space, island storage may not be a priority. Designer Steve Justrich explains, “Typically, two 24-inch base cabinets back to back will accommodate most under-island functions,” in this article by Houzz.

If the island will be used as a main food preparation area, a sink and other appliances may have to come first in priority. Should you choose entertaining as the main function of your island, then seating arrangements should be the main priority of your island.

An important factor to keep in mind is the aisle space between the kitchen island and any perimeter cabinets or appliances. According to, experts suggest that an ideal aisle space would be 42 inches between the counters. If you have a smaller kitchen, they suggest a minimum of 36 inches.

3. Style

The next step in designing your island is choosing the style. Style includes the cabinetry finish, countertop material, lighting and seating arrangements. Typically the style of the island follows suit with the style of the rest of the kitchen.

When it comes to cabinetry finish, some choose a paint or stain color that stands out against surrounding kitchen cabinets. Others choose a matching finish to bring the design together.

Kitchen Island Design by Pine Street Carpenters features a Tigerwood Countertop
Design by Pine Street Carpenters, Inc.

It’s important to choose the right countertop that best suits the island’s activity. For food preparation, a butcher block countertop is most recommended. Waterfall counters have a sleek look that works for both modern and traditional kitchens. For seating areas, a wood bar top is a warm place to cozy up to.

Kitchen Island Design by Karen Kassen of Kitchens Unlimited features a Waterfall Countertop
Design by Karen Kassen, CMKBD, ASID, of Kitchens Unlimited

Lighting above your island is a way to express your personality, while adding to the overall functionality of the space. Some designers choose recessed lighting, others choose pendant lighting. Some also choose to use a combination of both. Designers often use three pendant lights above an island, depending on the light design.

Kitchen Island Design by Denise Quade of Denise Quade Design features a Wood Countertop
Design by Denise Quade, CMKBD, of Denise Quade Design

Seating is another way to add to the style of the overall kitchen and island. Some designers choose backless bar stools, while others choose a chair style stool.

Visit the Countertop Image Library to see more perfect kitchen island designs.

#CustomWoodCountertops #KitchenIsland #ButcherBlocks

Wood Backsplash by Grothouse

Custom Wood Countertops by Grothouse can include a matching Wood Backsplash Wood Backsplashes are typically crafted in the same wood specie to create a uniform look. They are included in all types of designs.

Custom Countertop with matching wood backsplash
Custom Wood Countertop with Wood Backsplash

Wood Backsplashes | Uses

Wood Backsplashes are typically found in kitchen designs. The traditional kitchen shown below includes a Custom Cherry Wood Countertop with a matching Cherry Backsplash.

Cherry Countertop with matching Wood Backsplash
Cherry Wood Countertop with matching Backsplash

This kitchen also includes a matching backsplash around the stove.

Wood Countertop with Backsplash around Stove
Cherry Wood Countertops and matching Backsplash around Stove

The backsplash continues to another part of the kitchen.

Custom Cherry Wood Backsplash
Custom Cherry Backsplash

By adding the backsplash in multiple locations throughout the entire kitchen, a uniform look has been created.

Another traditional kitchen design includes a matching Backsplash, Wood Countertop, and Cabinetry.

Cherry Wood Countertops with Cherry Wood Backsplash
Matching Wood Countertops, Backsplash, and Cabinetry

Backsplashes can also be used to add the effect of connecting one countertop with another. The rustic kitchen shown in the image below has a raised wood countertop and a lower wood kitchen countertop. Between the two countertops is a matching wood backsplash that makes them look connected.

Wood Countertops with matching Wood Backsplash
Wood Countertops with matching Backsplash

Wood Backsplashes are not limited to kitchen designs. Echelon Custom Homes designed this Wood Bathtub Surround with a matching Backsplash.

Wood Bathtub Surround with Wood Backsplash
Wood Bathtub Surround with matching Wood Backsplash

To see more designs including Wood Backsplash visit the Countertop Image Library.

About The Grothouse Lumber Company

Established in 1994, the Grothouse Lumber Company has grown to become one of the most technically advanced and creative manufacturers in the wood surfaces market. Our custom-built wood countertops can be configured with  a myriad of available options, including 60+ wood species, and 30 edge profiles. Our specially-formulated Durata; permanent finish is one of the most durable and waterproof protective coatings currently available on the market today.

Cherry Kitchen Countertops

American Cherry is one of the most well known furniture hardwoods. Cherry Kitchen Countertops darken to a deep red brown color over time, a natural color that is notorious in today’s kitchen designs.

Grothouse Cherry Kitchen Countertops
Cherry Kitchen Countertops by Grothouse

Designing Cherry Kitchen Countertops

The first decision to be made when designing Cherry Kitchen Countertops is the construction style. Cherry Countertops manufactured by Grothouse can be crafted in three different construction styles: End Grain, Flat Grain, and Edge Grain.

End Grain Construction is the premium construction style for direct food preparation, for example direct chopping. End Grain surfaces are commonly referred to as Butcher Blocks. The picture below is a Cherry Butcher Block used for a Kitchen Island Countertop. This traditional kitchen was designed by Cabinet Tree Design Studio.

Cherry Kitchen Countertop crafted in End Grain Construction
End Grain Cherry Butcher Block used for a Kitchen Island Countertop

There are numerous benefits to having this large Cherry Kitchen Island Butcher Block Top. For one, you can prepare food safely directly on the countertop. Butcher Blocks are finished with Grothouse Original Oil™, which is a completely food safe finish. The Cherry Butcher Block is a warm and comforting surface to enjoy breakfast in the morning, or dinner in the evening. The color of the Cherry compliments the brick around the stove. The Cherry Butcher Block easily becomes the center piece of the entire kitchen.

Cherry Kitchen Countertops can also be crafted in Flat Grain Construction. Flat Grain Construction is commonly known as Wide Plank and is generally preferred for an aesthetic furniture surface that enhances the grain of the wood.  The Cherry Wood Counter pictured below was crafted in Flat Grain Construction. This counter is a wonderful example of the beautiful grain of Cherry. The white under mount sink and white cabinetry compliment the rich red tones in the Cherry wood and create a warm space. This counter is finished with Grothouse Original Oil™, allowing the counter to be used as a food preparation surface if desired.

Flat Grain Cherry Kitchen Countertops
Flat Grain Cherry Wood Kitchen Counter

Cherry Kitchen Countertops are also available in Edge Grain Construction. Edge Grain Construction is extremely stable and makes for great surface countertops. The Cherry Wood Countertop shown in the picture below was crafted in Edge Grain Construction.

Edge Grain Cherry Kitchen Countertops
Edge Grain Cherry Wood Kitchen Countertop

The next step in designing Cherry Kitchen Countertops is to decide if you would like any features added to your countertop. Countertops manufactured by Grothouse can include features that add function to your kitchen. The Cherry Kitchen Countertop pictured below takes opportunity of a couple features.

Cherry Kitchen Countertops with features that add function
Cherry Wood Kitchen Countertop with Drainboards, Backsplash, and Drop Leaf Extension

First, the countertop is sealed with our Durata® Permanent Finish. This finish is exclusively available on Grothouse wood surfaces and makes the countertop completely waterproof. Next, the countertop includes a Drainboard. A drainboard is a series of routed channels in the countertop that are sloped so that water will drain off the countertop naturally into the sink. This countertop also includes a Cherry wood back splash to match the countertop. A Drop Leaf Extension is located at the end of the countertop. The client requested this Drop Leaf Extension to allow for an increase in the available counter space when desired. The picture below demonstrates the Drop Leaf Extension in the upright position.

Cherry Kitchen Countertop with extension
Cherry Kitchen Countertop with Drop Leaf Extension in upright position, Drainboards, and Backsplash

Grothouse Cherry Kitchen Countertops can be designed in any of the three construction styles available, and can include a numerous amount of features that add function to your kitchen. Visit the Countertop Image Library to view more Cherry Kitchen Countertops.

Innovative Custom Butcher Block Countertops

Grothouse Walnut butcherblock with waste hole and stainless steel lidProfessional designers are well known for creating stunning spaces that provide beauty and function. Custom Butcher Block Countertops are de rigueur in any working kitchen and what was once a standalone necessity in the form of a simplistic butcher block table of the 1900’s, has evolved into creative fashion. Modern designs include butcherblocks of many forms and shapes, and many can arguably be considered art. Grothouse has crafted butcher block countertops for a variety of kitchens and talented designers and we have highlighted a select few, to provide inspiration for your next project. Each design demonstrates how butcherblock can easily be incorporated into transitional, contemporary and traditional styles and can enhance the appeal of any room in the home.

Walnut Butcherblock Countertop by GrothouseThis Walnut butcher block is inset into the countertop and is readily removable thanks to the routed finger grips. The butcher block has a waste hole with a polished lid. The discards from chopping are easily swiped into the waste hole and captured in the trash bin concealed in a pull out cabinet. Designed by Peter Cardamone of Blue Bell Kitchens, cabinetry by Quality Custom.

An ingenious design by Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen and Bath is a triple threat, the Walnut butcher block countertop is protected with The Original Oil and can be used for direct chopping and prepping of food. The table serves as additional counter space when in its home place as pictured, and the casters permit this table to moved and used as a dining table or for tableside serving. This kitchen design gained the nod of approval from the NKBA, and Jennifer won the esteemed NKBA Pinnacle Kitchen of the Year Award.

Each butcher block has a different aesthetic and offers the timeless beauty of organic wood surfaces.  Visit our design gallery for additional butcherblock countertop photos and design inspiration.

Wood Countertops for Todays Kitchens

Wood Countertop Teak with Sink

At Grothouse Lumber, we collaborate with the top design firms in the United States, crafting wood countertops that create award winning kitchens. Wood countertops are a classic design element and mixing them with other modern surfaces prevents fixing your kitchen design to a specific era. Wood surfaces are attractive in contemporary, traditional and transitional styled kitchens and add warmth and function. We hope to provide inspiration and insight into using wood to compliment the design and increase the functionality of your dream kitchen.

The style of your kitchen can guide the color and style of your wood surface. For a traditional or transitional kitchen, select woods from the brown and red color palette and add a decorative edge profile. For inspiration on your edge profile, try to duplicate an element in the profiles on your cabinetry. Contemporary kitchens tend to have lighter colored islands constructed of bamboo or maple or the almost ebony look of Wenge. More modern looking countertops are often finished with square edge profiles for a crisp look.

Wood Countertop Zebrawood with Durata Finish by GrothouseThe ideal kitchen design contains more than one countertop style. Do not feel limited to select only one countertop surface for your kitchen. Experiment with combining different materials, colors and textures. Wood grain affects the appearance as well as the implied texture. A strong grained wood like Zebrawood adds texture as well and brown and black hues. When juxaposed near a stark white countertop, Zebrawood creates the desired tension of professional designs. Zebrawood countertops have pronounced black graining that accents black cabinets wonderfully. The red tones in Cherry and Mahogany countertops successfully compliment the gray and steel hued countertops and cabinetry.

Besides beauty, wood has other advantages. Consider a wood island countertop for your kitchen, a common gathering place, especially when entertaining. Wood is gentle to fine stemware and china, avoiding accidental chips, and due to its sound absorbing properties, wood quiets a room full of guests. Perimeter wood countertops often include sinks and incorporated drainboards. Finishing the wood with Durata® provides a waterproof and stain proof surface.

End Grain butcher block countertops provide a beautiful and functional work surface for cutting and chopping. End grain is a checkerboard-like construction style offering the ability to create patterns and designs. Placing two small butcher block cutting boards flanking each side of the stove or incorporated with a sink creates an efficient workspace.

Walnut butcherblock with waste hole and stainless steel lid, custom finger grips The Devils is in the details! For a truly unique piece, personalize your wood surface by incorporating custom elements. Laser engrave a treasured phrase or your family name on the side of a thick chunky butcherblock. Drain boards and custom waste holes are popular features. Removable knife slots are great if you change your knife sets frequently, just re-order a new insert designed to fit the sizes of your new set. The customization creates a functional one of a kind piece you will treasure.

 Butcherblock Table Laser Engraved Designed by Tyler Florence for House Beautiful Kitchen of the YearWarm organic wood surfaces grace the finest homes and are a part of every chef’s kitchen, with so may colors and styles available, designing the perfect piece for your space is a rewarding and creative experience. No other surface provides the warmth and natural beauty of wood.
For additional interior designing with wood ideas and information and inspiration, visit our design gallery and

Denise Grothouse
The Grothouse Lumber Company
Wood Countertops ~ Butcher Blocks ~ Bar Tops ~ Tables
ph 877-268-5412