Kitchen islands are not exactly polarizing—if you have the room, you probably want one. And if you don’t, you probably want one even more. I’m in the latter camp myself, but I stopped in my tracks recently when I caught an episode of HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords.” Instead of putting a freestanding island in the kitchen, designer Leanne Ford introduced me to the concept of a “bathroom island,” and I’ll never be the same. In my hypothetical dream home, I want an island in my master bath almost as much as I do in my cookspace.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. These aren’t for everyone. First, you have to have a nice chunk of square footage at your disposal and the money to move plumbing lines and such. Unless we’re talking custom build or super high-end home, you’re looking at a gut renovation here. But dream with me for a second: imagine how insane one of these would be, both form and function-wise. It’s a great concept for a double vanity because you can give each “user” their own side if you want, which may even save a couple of inches in the long run if you use compact mirrors and sinks. And you can’t underestimate the extra storage potential of having a freestanding piece of furniture in your bathroom. Potential spatial flow issues aside, bathroom islands certainly bring the design drama.
As Leanne Ford pointed out in the episode, there aren’t many images of bathroom islands on Pinterest, which makes me feel like it’s a pretty fresh design concept that likely originated in hotels and hospitality. I love what Leanne herself did to further the trend by contrasting what looks like concrete with refined marble sinks and brass faucets (take a gander at her work above from the home she renovated and shared with My Domaine). There’s no mistaking the focal point in this space when you walk in.
If you’re intrigued by this possible trend but perhaps Leanne’s version is too modern for you, I rounded up a couple of traditional options as well:
From Better Homes & Gardens, this space maxes out square footage and works well when you have a spacious bath. Not a problem I personally have, but if you’re trying to max out a floor plan, moving the sinks and mirrors to an island in the middle of the room fills up otherwise empty space and allows you to add things like a makeup table or desk to the wall.
Designer Jeffrey Alan Marks is generally on his game, and I loved this project from Elle Decor where he used a bathroom island that felt more like an antique dresser. The takeaway here is that in addition to storage, this piece is an opportunity to add charm and color to the bath. This is true of kitchen islands as well. Maybe you try a contrasting cabinet shade or dramatic countertop material here that meshes but isn’t exactly the same as other surfaces in the room (if you have them). And feel free to go for design touches like turned legs or bun feet if that’s your style.
So, would I consider an island in my bathroom if I wanted a “wow” moment that wasn’t the typical glass shower door, bold patterned tile or clawfoot soaker? You bet, and I wish more designers would, too. Just be sure you have space and that you’re choosing something that will look good from all angles.