Designs, continued

Second Sink According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, an industry trade group in Hackettstown, New Jersey, one-third of homes remodeled or newly built in the past two years feature kitchens with more than one sink. Whether you opt for a full-size, fully equipped sink or a vegetable basin on the island depends on your cooking habits. "An efficiently functioning kitchen was important to this homeowner—she's a serious cook who entertains a lot," says designer Dave McFadden, of Past Basket in Geneva, Illinois, who organized the room into two major task zones. "The prep area consists of the refrigerator, the cooktop and the small sink on the island, while cleanup centers around the main sink and the dishwashers." McFadden wanted the island to have a look distinct from the cabinetry, so he gave it a limed-oak finish and highlighted with overhead soffit lighting.

Defining Space By breaking down the walls that shut this kitchen off from the rest of the house, San Francisco-based designer Lou Ann Bauer tapped into another trend in kitchen design. Nearly 80 percent of home buyers prefer kitchens that are completely or partially open, using a half-wall. Angling the island gave form to the space without enclosing it; it now defines the way to the garage and the dining room while freeing up the view to the family room and garden. A structural column that runs through one end of the island was sheathed in wood, and the trim at the top of it was stained with a red aniline dye. The island houses a dishwasher and a 30-in. undercounter oven along with the sink.

Storage and More The simplest islands provide storage, but they can do much more. As part of this remodel, the wall that divided the formal dining area and living room—and which had been home to the china cabinet—was removed. Designer Krikor Halajian created a new transition between the working kitchen and family room by replacing the display/storage sp0ace with a trio of glass-door cabinets that pull the eye from the front of the space through to the back. As a result, this maple island with a whitewashed, pearlescent finish becomes a part of the room design. "On evenings when the homeowners entertain they turn the kitchen lights off and keep the cabinet lights on, but dimmed," Halajian explains. "The kitchen disappears and the glass collection takes center stage."

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