The kitchen island has become standard in the kitchen. It can add more granite countertop, extra storage space, or a bar for in-kitchen dining. Once you've gotten used to the island, you can’t live without it. As you plan for a new home or a remodel, take a little time to think about this staple of kitchen design.
Here are a few considerations to address so you can maximize your island.
Think about Proportion
Be sure your kitchen layout can accommodate an island. The idea here is to make sure the island increases kitchen productivity, rather than hampering it. Don’t block access to your appliances or overcrowd your space with an island that doesn’t fit your space.
The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends that you have a minimum of 42 inches between the island and the cabinets and appliances. Or if you expect to have multiple cooks in the kitchen, increase that to 48 inches.
If you want seating at your island, plan for 44 inch clearance behind the seating area. Wheelchair access should allow 60 inches all the way around an island.
The most important thing to keep in mind is proportion. Since the island is usually situated in the center of the room, it sets up the flow of the room. Too large an island will cut into flow and overwhelm the room. Too small an island becomes another piece of furniture and is overlooked.
The Island in Limited Space
Some kitchen spaces simply don’t allow for an island. You’ll have to get creative if you want to overcome your galley-style or very small kitchen layout. Here are a few ideas:
• Make your dining table an extension of the island instead of trying to make space for both
• Get rid of your dining table and let your island be your only in-kitchen eating area
• Go mobile with a wheeled island that you can remove when you need more space
• Opt for a small butcher block or other small furnishing that fits within your kitchen
Knowing what you want your island to do can make the decisions easier. Do you want the island to be your cooking center? Will it be mostly for prepping? Or maybe you visualize the island as the social center of the room. Depending on the functionality you want, your island design and overall kitchen design will affect your plans.
The Prepping Island
This island is a large expanse of work space, uncluttered by other stuff. A sink at one end can increase productivity. A dishwasher and garbage compactor or disposal is also handy in the prep space.
The Cooking Island
Your range, cooktop, warming drawers, and microwave in one place will increase the flow of the kitchen, especially if they’re in the island. Don’t forget to plan for ventilation and other safety features.
The Social Island
If you love to cook for your guests, you know the value of combining the cooking space with the social space. These tend to be larger islands that accommodate several things at once: cooking and socializing or prepping and talking over appetizers. Be sure to work in seating space with plenty of room for knees and elbows.
Reflect on the Perks
Beyond the basic function of your island, think about the little things that make your island the model of efficiency.
The Material Matters
If you do a lot of preparation on your island, you may want to designate a section of the island as a butcher block. If you love baking and candy making, marble may be your choice. Maybe you need something that can multi-task and look great at the same time so you pick granite countertop. Always familiarize yourself with the maintenance needed by different surfaces before you commit to them.
The Storage Opportunity
This big block in the center of the room is the perfect place to add a bit more storage to your kitchen. Don’t be satisfied with general storage, though. Get the storage you know you’ll need on hand in the most used area of the kitchen.
• Deep drawers are great for storing appliances
• A rack for pots and pans keeps them nearby your cooking station
• Open shelving for cookbooks and display (like serving dishes or china)
• Vertical slots for trays and baking sheets eliminates stacking for good
• Long small drawers for knives or cooking implements
Ponder on the Design
The island generally stands out as the visual center of the kitchen design. That opens up the world of shape and color for your island.
Your island doesn’t have to be a giant rectangle. Half-circle designs are great for social kitchens. L or T shaped islands are great for providing plenty of space or condensing dining space to the island.
Take advantage of the fact that the island draws attention and let it be the pop of color or boldness that you crave in the kitchen. Paint the island cabinet in your accent color. Contrast with the major color of the kitchen with a contrasting granite countertop. Be sure to light your island well for both increased functionality and visual appeal.
Make the kitchen island your favorite spot in the house. Plan it first and build your kitchen around it and you’ll increase the functionality and beauty of your kitchen.