What to consider when adding a kitchen island

Phantom Screens / May 1, 2015

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For many homes, the kitchen is the epicenter of daily activity. The kitchen is no longer used solely for the preparation of food. More and more families make use of their kitchens for entertaining and working as well as cooking and eating. As such, many kitchens feature a prominent island that is capable of performing many functions. When designing an island to add to your own kitchen, there are a few features to be taken into consideration:

Function

While kitchen islands are known for their versatility, deciding on a main function for your island space will greatly influence its design. Consider the other features of your kitchen and what is missing. Do you already have a countertop with appropriate seating? Then you probably don’t need to focus on entertaining at your island. Do you have enough counter space to prepare and cook your meals? A food prep island and a cooking island prioritize different amenities. While a island used primarily for cooking will benefit from a stovetop and oven, one used primarily for food prep will need a substantial amount of flat counter space. Does your kitchen have enough storage? If your cabinets are overflowing with pots and pans and your drawers continuously get stuck from all the kitchen gadgets you have stuffed in them, then you might need to prioritize storage solutions in your new island. Whatever problem you may currently be facing in your kitchen design, utilize your new island as an opportunity to fix it. By focusing on a specific use for your island, you will simplify the design process.

Space

The second key consideration when designing an island is the amount of room you have available. Make sure you take into account both horizontal space and vertical overhead space when determining the size limitations of your new island. Vertical space is important when determining the possibility of including an overhead range hood above a stovetop or pendant light fixtures and whether or not those features will obstruct the view of guests sitting across from you. If so, perhaps natural ventilation and recessed lighting are better options. In addition, make sure the aisles around your island are neither too big or too small. As a rule of thumb, 42 to 48 inches is a good range. Lower than that and you will find the area too cramped to work, any larger and it will become a hassle to move from one part of your kitchen to another, especially when carrying a heavy roast turkey or hot pan.

Materials

Function and space considerations will determine the dimensions and appliances you include in your island, but your chosen materials will decide how it looks. Choose materials that are harmonious with the rest of your kitchen in order to create a cohesive design. There are many different materials available and each has a unique feel. For example, while marble countertops complement bright, white kitchens very nicely, granite is a better option for kitchens featuring a lot of stained wood. Even granite itself comes in a wide variety of different colors and patterns, requiring careful thought during selection.

Call in the professionals

For many people, the best way to ensure that your new kitchen island is perfect is to enlist the services of a professional designer or architect. They will be able to serve you best if you come to them already with an idea about the function, size and materials you would like to see included in your island. In addition, images of kitchens and islands that you really like will help a designer understand your likes and dislikes, enabling them to create an island specific to you.