Waterfall islands: design ideas, cost, and practicalities

Waterfall kitchen island ideas

Is a kitchen island top of your wishlist? We’re bringing you the lowdown on the modern waterfall edge – from ways to include it in your design to cost and maintenance.

But first, what is a waterfall island? Simply put, the worktop on your kitchen island extends down its side, thus creating a continuous flow akin to a serene waterfall – hence the name.

Intrigued? Scroll down to find out more about this desirable design element…

White waterfall island design with marble veining and fluting detail in a pretty modern kitchen design.
Westlock kitchen, from £60,000 excluding appliances, Humphrey Munson.
Green and white kitchen design with a waterfall island that is filled with light from the skylight.
Kitchen design with waterfall island by Higham Furniture. Kitchens start from £35,000.

Why should you have one?

Waterfall islands offer a wide scope of design possibilities – from creating a seamless flow throughout your kitchen to adding the wow factor with a stand-out centrepiece. “A waterfall island countertop’s main appeal lies in its unique, eye-catching aesthetics,” explains Charlie Smallbone, founder of Ledbury Studio. “The design features a continuous material that wraps around the island’s sides down to the floor, producing a sleek, modern, and luxurious look. It can serve as a kitchen focal point, infusing sophistication and elegance.”

With this type of island, you can also showcase the beauty of your worktop – be it luxurious marble, pristine quartz, or elegant porcelain. What’s not to love?

Scandi-style kitchen in a neutral colour palette. In the foreground, you can see a large island with light wood barstools and circle pendent lights.
Bespoke kitchens, from £40,000, Searle & Taylor.
Black kitchen design with a waterfall island, shaker cabinets and gold accents.
Hjerte kitchen, from £2120, Smile Kitchens.

How can I include a waterfall island in my kitchen?

The island has become a multi-functional hub where you can now prepare food, cook and socialise – all in one area. So, you can really get creative with your design to ensure it caters to your lifestyle and fits your aesthetic.

“There are several ways a waterfall design can be introduced – whether you follow the entire length of your island with storage throughout or you can extend the worktop on its own to incorporate seating underneath to create a table-style area,” explains Alex Main, director at kitchen brand The Main Company. If you love entertaining or have a big family, then creating a breakfast bar by adding an overhang is a great way of making the most of your waterfall island.

Ultra modern kitchen design with marble worktop, matching cabinets and splashback. The open-plan kitchen also has a large dining area with a table and chairs.
Diamond Series porcelain worktop in Cristallo Gold, from £110 per sq m, Laminam.

What’s more, an island can even help you section off an open-plan room. “Opt for a secondary area to your island with a waterfall countertop to help zone the kitchen between preparation and socialising space, by combining two different materials together such as quartz and wood,” adds Alex.

Contemporary kitchen with matching worktop, splashback and grey cabinet doors.
Cambridge Taupe true handleless kitchen, from £2388, Benchmarx.

For a statement look, you can choose a thick worktop. Or, alternatively, why not go with mitred edges? “Along with extending the worktop down one side, you can also opt for built-up edges,” recommends Jo Bull, marketing manager at Königstone. “This creates the illusion of a thicker worktop, up to 100mm, or you could clad the back of the island too to give the look of one big block of stone.”

Bold kitchen with a large waterfall island. It mixes together wooden details and marble for a contemporary look.
Kitchens by Ledbury Studio start from £70,000.

When designing your new kitchen, keep in mind that a waterfall island can add contemporary flair to a more traditional scheme, but it works best in modern interiors. “Remember that a waterfall island is a more contemporary look and if you want it to be a centrepiece it’s a good idea to let it really sing by paring back everything else around it – you can use classical style cabinetry but keep it simple with clean lines,” advises Louisa Eggleston, creative director at Humphrey Munson

Modern kitchen design with black marble worktop and natural wood elements. In the centre, there is a large island with breakfast bar.
Bespoke kitchen with waterfall island, from £40,000, Simon Taylor Furniture.

How much does a waterfall island cost? 

While the allure of a waterfall island is undeniable, it’s essential to think about costs when planning your renovation budget. “Waterfall islands typically require more material and labour compared to traditional worktops,” says Molly Chandler, designer at Willis & Stone. “They require precise installation to ensure a seamless look, which may increase the complexity and expense of the project.” According to Molly, the cost can range between £3000 and £8000, depending on your chosen worktop material. 

Another factor to consider is that the structural integrity of the cabinets must be robust to bear the extra weight. So, it’s best to invest in high-quality cabinetry, too.

Large kitchen island with bold worktop in a brown and black veiny pattern.
König Naturals in Aphrodite, price on application, Königstone.


Luckily, when it comes to waterfall islands, there is a plethora of worktop materials to choose from these days. However, regarding care, there are some key factors to keep in mind.

While visually striking, as the surface is grander, it could potentially be more susceptible to chips, scratches, or stains, depending on the material you pick. Sintered stone, for example, is a durable option. But natural materials such as marble or wood need more attention.

So, make sure you do your research and talk to your supplier before you purchase your desired worktop. Ultimately, good and regular maintenance is crucial to preserve your waterfall island.

Large grey marble worktop in a modern kitchen with open shelves.
Zenith compact laminate worktop in Cloudy Nova, price on application, Bushboard.

Enjoyed this post? Click here for your guide to buying a new kitchen worktop

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