This versatile kitchen element can give your space added style and functionality
Today's kitchen is the hub of the home, where families and friends gather to cook, eat, entertain, and share daily life. More and more kitchen designers are creating layouts that encourage comfortable interaction. The kitchen island is the perfect place to balance congregation and separation, ensuring that hosts can cook and clean while they socialize with their guests.
"Why would you want to prep food with a wall or a cabinet door a few inches from your nose, or eyes for that matter?" says Johnny Grey, renowned kitchen designer. "An island that faces into the center of the room is the place for prepping and cooking. Sociability is not possible without eye contact."
Of course, you can't put an island in a galley kitchen. There is no hard and fast rule for size, but architect Duo Dickinson recommends that an island be at least 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, with ample room to move around it. "Unless your kitchen is at least 8 feet wide and more than 12 feet long, don't even think about an island," he says.
This kitchen has room for two. Matching counter and cabinetry material helps the twosome blend in and helps negotiating around them feel manageable.
With a contrasting scheme, the island takes on an identity of its own—and makes an interesting focal point. Though the cabinetry might be similar to that of the rest of the kitchen, the island can be given a contrasting shape, color, finish, or countertop material.
An island can be an excellent place to house appliances. An island with a cooktop allows a home chef to socialize while making meals. Here, the host can prepare food on the six-burner cooktop and serve guests sitting at the adjacent breakfast bar. The extra-large vent hood is a decorative eye-catcher.
Other appliances that can be tucked neatly away into the island include the dishwasher, microwave, warming drawer, garbage disposal, and beverage center. This 10-foot island allowed the designer to minimize appliances seen at eye level, putting more focus on the character of the cabinetry.
It's not only appliances that get stowed away in kitchen islands. This black-painted maple island is topped with stainless steel. Large 30-inch-wide drawers on one side hold cookware and linens. The open shelf stores serving dishes. Stainless steel drawer pulls and leg caps on all four sides give the custom island a finished look from every angle.
Wine storage at the island is as stylish as it is practical. The racks, along with decorative pineapple feet and a bow front, make this one look like a piece of fine furniture. But with its 4½-by-3-foot butcher-block top, microwave, pull-out trash bin, and multiple drawers for pots, pans, and cutlery, it takes a lot of pressure off the perimeter countertops and storage areas in the kitchen.
This large but narrow island also features wine storage, which is neatly tucked into the end near the prep sink, creating a bar zone for entertaining. The raised soapstone countertop can be used as a breakfast bar or staging area, all while concealing the chef's lower workstation, which includes a cooktop.
This 4-by-7-foot island is positioned to create work areas for the large kitchen. The cooking zone is formed by the island's prep sink, the cooktop/oven, the microwave, and the refrigerator; a cleanup zone stretches from the hutch to the cooktop. A two-drawer dishwasher and a recycling center flanking the main sink help speed cleanup.
The undermount sink housed in this Georgia-marble-topped island allows the cook to prep a meal or clean up while staying connected to those seated at the counter. For continuity, the island base cabinetry is the same style as the rest of the kitchen, but for a visual kick gets a coat of green paint.
Despite its small size, this granite-topped, banana-shaped island does a lot. It helps define the kitchen perimeter and organize traffic flow while providing handy counter space from all directions. The cabinet beneath adds extra storage.
In this case, the island anchors the large space and provides a visual cutoff from the kitchen to the family room. It features a drop-in sink, breakfast bar, and storage.
An island can act as the focal point of the room, taking on unique style and form. This one in particular stands out with rich materials, a cutting-board-shaped top, beadboard sides, and apothecary drawers.