Resene Paints - home page

Island life

Kitchen ideas from Food magazine

Bold, beautiful and practical, a well-curated island is a shore thing.

If you’re planning a kitchen renovation or are in the process of designing a new home, you’ll probably be thinking about a kitchen island. The ultimate multi-tasking space, a kitchen island provides additional surfaces for prepping, working and eating. While it’s not strictly necessary to incorporate one into your design, an island offers opportunities such as especially long surfaces for entertaining, wheels and additional storage.

Kitchen islands come in a practically limitless variety of styles, shapes and configurations. But while a well- planned layout can provide much satisfication, a poorly planned island can be frustrating. We have some key life considerations to help you design the perfect one to suit you and your family.

Dramatic orange and blue island bench
This bold kitchen island in Resene Daredevil really makes a splash against the Resene Black White walls and ceiling. The door is also in Resene Daredevil and the joinery on the back wall is painted Resene Colour Me Pink. Design by Neil Fenwick.

One size does not fit all

A small kitchen doesn’t mean an island won’t be possible, or that you won’t be able to include the options you want. There are plenty of possibilities for making an island work, even where space is limited. Most kitchen designers offer options for reduced depth, customised height or extra-large cabinets tailored to suit your specific spatial and design needs. Other smaller-scale options include butcher blocks, moving islands and trolleys. Eye-catching in their own right, these small islands can be extremely functional, offer extra storage space and work surfaces, and are often much less costly than a fixed kitchen island.

If you have space to spare, you’ll have different options available to you such as extending the surface area of your island counter top so that there is enough space to tuck bar stools completely underneath, keeping them safely out of the path of travel.

An island can also be a great place to add a shelf or cubby for cookbooks or wine storage. And now that extractors can be integrated into ceilings, the option to incorporate your cooktop into your island can be another smart move, depending on you and your family’s needs.

Black and white kitchen
This homeowner knew she wanted her kitchen island to be painted almost black, but not too black, with a touch of inkiness while not being too blue. She found what she was looking for in Resene Cinder. Cabinetry, walls and ceiling in Resene Half Bianca. Design by Michael Cooper.

Bring a coastal vibe to your kitchen with tone-on-tone blues.

Resene Raindance

Resene Merino

Resene Safehaven

Smooth operator

The design of a kitchen island can be extremely efficient if it is planned from the outset as the multi-purpose workstation it is meant to be. A well-planned layout will ideally allow for a smooth workflow while also providing a comfortable space for preparing and cooking food, dining, working and storage.

The ideal distance for the clearance zone – which is the space between your island and your back-run of cabinetry – is approximately one metre, to enable free and safe movement around your kitchen. But where you place your island can also affect movement through your home. You can use an island to help delineate the kitchen zone without cutting it off – a bonus if you like to socialise with guests while cooking.

Top tip

It’s simple to do a DIY update on your kitchen island if it needs a quick refresh. If the surface is very smooth, use Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer and Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel. The semi-gloss finish will be easier to keep clean than a lower sheen finish.

Circular kitchen
Natural and golden shades
Curved island: This kitchen features a unique curvaceous island painted in Resene Double Mondo. The walls are in Resene Half Caraway, the ceiling is in Resene Quarter Albescent White and the rest of the cabinetry is in Resene Double Mondo. Design by Celia Visser. Rectangular island: The combination of both natural and opulent golden shades in this kitchen creates a warm yet fresh aesthetic. The island and cabinetry are painted in Resene Double Sea Fog, the ceiling is in Resene Quarter Alabaster, the wall is in Resene Alabaster and the trims are in Resene Double Alabaster. Design by Sarah Lassche-Jones.

The icing on the cake

The colour of your island will play a major role in the overall look of your kitchen and there are a few different ways you can approach it. You can paint it to match the rest of your cabinets; paint it to match your splashback; or paint it a completely different colour altogether.

To make it easier for you to get just the right colour, Resene recently launched Resene AquaLAQ, which is especially designed for kitchen cabinetry, furniture and joinery. It includes a complete waterborne system of sealer, colour coat and Environmental Choice-approved clear coat. With a full range of authentic Resene colours available, you can get exactly the colour you want.

Mix and match

Depending on your design preferences, some looks call for mismatching. For a country look, try tongue-and- groove panelling on the outside of your island painted in a Resene colour to complement your cabinetry. For a rustic look, cover the sides with slats of reclaimed wood, stained in one or more Resene Colorwood timber stains that contrast with the colour of the floor. Go for a charcoal like Resene Colorwood Tiri, Resene Colorwood Cedar for a rich brown, or Resene Colorwood Whitewash for a warm and light look.

Mix and match wooden island bench Reclaimed timber in a variety of Resene Colorwood stains turns this kitchen island into a statement. For added interest, the walls around the pantry have been painted Resene Woodstock. Design by John Mills, image by Nicola Edmonds.

Or, try painting your island in an electric hue like Resene Havoc, Resene I Dare You or Resene Kryptonite to make it the standout focal point of your space.

Resene I Dare You

Resene Kryptonite

Tips and tricks for island living

Combinations to try

Resene Ethereal

Resene Dynamite


Kitchen Decorating Ideas
View more kitchen decorating ideas from Food magazine in the Resene kitchen inspiration gallery.

More ideas


Get inspired ! Subscribe      Get saving ! Apply for a DIY card

Resene Paints Ltd

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask us!

Resene Paints Ltd   –

View Videos

Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.