After all the big players like paint colors, appliances and lighting fixtures have been chosen, nothing ties a kitchen together like a well-styled island

In the last few weeks I’ve shared with you how I brought some cool and white elements into a warm dining space and warm elements and yellows into a cool kitchen. To wrap up this series, I want to focus on my favorite part: the final 10 percent, the frosting on the cake, the little accessories that make a room come together.

In a kitchen, that’s generally on the island. Whether, like me, you’re staging for a photo shoot or just making dinner more special and colorful for your family, I’ll give you tips on putting it all together.


Keeping in mind that I was using sunny yellows and pops of bright green to bring alive a cool kitchen; I layered the island with a modern Chilewich placemat and white dinnerware. The accessories tied in with other design elements in the kitchen such as warm seagrass accents and reclaimed wood for an overall look that was contemporary and eclectic.

Now look a little closer at my other two kitchen island settings. Do you see anything in common?

All three incorporate white dinnerware. And there’s another commonality: They all use napkins to infuse pops of color.

So why white? First, it’s a color almost everybody has in their cupboards. It’s timeless. It doesn’t matter if you have white cabinets or not — white can go in just about any kitchen. But how can you mix it up?

Square white plates, for a start, will look more modern and interesting. But white plates and silverware aren’t going to add up to anything special. Layering those plates with colorful napkins will set them off, whether between dinnerwear as I’ve done with the blue setting, or in a more casual situation where plates and napkins are set up for a buffet.


Use your linens to tie in with surrounding colors and textures, just as you would with pillows or throws on your sofa. This is an inexpensive way to bring out holiday themes, up the formality for a party or simply bring in colors you want to enhance in your kitchen.

In my clients’ kitchen I wanted to accentuate the green, and napkins were an easy solution. The placemats helped accentuate the sleek appliances.

So what can you do on your kitchen island? Can you incorporate seagrass or rattan for a more casual look, whether in your napkin rings or placemats? How about your glassware? Colored glasses add a more relaxed feel; crystal goblets obviously up the formal quotient.

Whether you are aiming for a touch of elegance, or fun and relaxed is more your style, don’t overlook that kitchen island for your next dinner party!


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects visit