If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would ever do lighter woods in my home, my response probably would have been a vehement "no". Growing up with a plethora of bad yellow oak flooring all over our home, I hated the way we had to design around it (we, meaning my parents of course - me i just give it the evil eye). But, as with all things, tastes changes and styles evolve and nowadays, I'm really loving some of these lighter woods. Especially in the kitchen...
More specifically, I'm loving the effect of a white kitchen with a counter or island that brings in a wood element. The counter stays white, but the facade incorporates a new wood tone...
Like this. I especially like the idea of using reclaimed wood here, since most of the time you don't want to use it all over the house - or don't have enough to do so. It adds that perfect rustic touch.
This look could also go thoroughly modern (not my style, but man do I love that ceiling!)
Or really high contrast. I like that in this kitchen they used the island as an opportunity to get away from all the white-washed wood in the space and add something darker. The dipped stools are the perfect tie-in too.
If you've decided to go with a starker kitchen design - whether all white, a little industrial, or even grey - I think this is a great way to add a little richness and texture visually. Becuase kitchens should be warm and inviting!
I could see how this detail could be easily incorporated into an existing island too - depending on the style. It's essentially just installing paneling - similar to above. You could wrap it all the way around, or just do a section of the island under the counter, and voila - instant update to the kitchen.