Curvy Kitchen Islands Are Trending, and I’m All In

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Courtesy of Formica)

Kitchen design has kind of been the same for a few years now—subway tile backsplash, splashy pendant lights, as big of an island as possible, and maybe some open shelving for good measure. Cabinet color has started to shift a little bit from all white to a little more bold in some instances, but it hasn’t fully taken off yet. Point is, the home design market moves pretty slow and to get the most return on your investment installing or updating a cookspace, it’s best to play it a little safe.

But when you work in design, or just plain love decor, you might find yourself wanting something that’s a little different than everything else, classic with a twist, if you will. Maybe I speak for myself, but that’s how I feel about kitchens—and why I fell hard for this Leanne Ford for Formica cookspace. It’s a curved kitchen island, people! And that one shift in the status quo is all I needed to get inspired and fall down the Instagram rabbit hole of looking for other curvy kitchens. But more on that later.

Let’s back up a second. There are a few downsides to a curved kitchen island. If seamless marble or stone countertops are a non-negotiable part of your dream kitchen, this exact look isn’t for you. Rounded edges, sure, but a full-on oval shaped island like what Leanne envisioned here—that’s not happening unless you’re using some kind of engineered solid surface.

Plus, right now, curves are super “in” for furniture and decorative accessories. It’s not all sharp angles and boxy shapes anymore. But the above mentioned things are a heck of a lot easier to switch out than an island. There’s some potential for your cookspace to look a little dated should this trend not pan out and become part of the 2019 kitchen design canon I spoke of earlier.

And yet, I’m still thinking about how fresh and high design a curved kitchen island looks. Rounded shapes just do so much for a room—they’re visually soft and calming, and they’re better for traffic flow since you don’t have to walk around (or worse… into) sharp corners. Here’s an example where the backsplash and curved island surround match, and the look is modern “or-glamic,” if that’s even a thing—killer curves plus the look of natural stone. The peninsula structure is a great way to embrace this trend without going all in too, since only the detached side of the island has the cylindrical shape to it.

(Image credit: Lindsey Kay Averill)

Or you could just put the curve into your countertop, as seen in this colorful kitchen. This is another safer bet, since replacing your island countertop wouldn’t cost as much as building an entirely new structure.

I love how this designer built rectangular shelving into the curve. This is another way to visually balance out those shapely ends. The recess for the stools also helps. Just good design all around. You see so many basic box-shaped islands, this really makes the case for going custom.

On the whole, the curved look definitely skews modern or ’70s glam, depending on the finishes you pair it with and the styling. But curves can still work in a more traditional space. Just look at this beauty of a curved island with Shaker-style cabinetry painted in Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue. You’re getting the best of both worlds here, and it’s that shift to a wooden countertop that made that curved little breakfast bar possible. But this detail, and maybe the coordinating wood-backed built-in shelving in the island, is what takes this space into the “wow” territory for me.

If you like the idea of wrapping an island with something untraditional, like galvanized metal or something else fluted or ribbed, you can still do that with a curved island and get even more design bang for your buck in my opinion. Hard edges only disrupt the impact these kinds of materials make, so application along curves is way more seamless.

Curves in the kitchen? If I were remodeling, I think I might try it. I just feel like someone big (Emily Henderson, Sarah Sherman Samuel, or even Leanne Ford again) is about to do this in a celebrity home or splashy space, and we’re all going to be freaking out about it. So you sort of heard it—well, at least the pros and cons of it—here first.