One way additional space is created is with a kitchen island – a freestanding counter-height workspace. It can provide a useful countertop, storage area and more seating – all while looking sleek and updated. They don’t have to be plain either. A built-in sink to wash your veggies? Sure. Shelving to show off your favorite cookbooks? You got it. Options abound and really depend on your needs.
Design experts recommend that at least three or four feet of aisle space surround the island. If your kitchen does not allow for such space, you may opt for a smaller alternative or forego having an island altogether. A kitchen island should never clutter your kitchen’s walkability or create a safety hazard.
But if you happen to have a kitchen that can accommodate an island, there are a few things you need to consider before purchasing or upgrading your current one.
If you simply want more counter space, wood, stainless steel or easy-to-clean glass tops can serve you well. Just make sure the materials are durable and the island itself is sturdy and can withstand weight and pressure without movement. If being tidy while you cook is important, you may want a built-in sink on the island for quick transfer of washed fruits and vegetables, as well as pots and pans. If you plan on treating the island as the hub for your cooking or if there’s more than one cook in the kitchen, a built-in stove might be an added benefit.
Don’t forget about the space below the counter. Cabinets should be incorporated, as well as drawers of varying heights to accommodate pots, pans, utensils and more. You may also want to include open shelving to display plates, cookbooks or decorative kitchen décor. If you plan on including additional conveniences like a dishwasher or under-counter microwave, you’ll have to consider the overall size of the island and determine how much storage space will be sacrificed to add those amenities.
Entertainment Hot Spot
Is your kitchen more than just a place to make meals? Want to sit down and have a glass of wine with a friend? Have your kids work on their homework while you make them an after-school snack? You might consider a bi-level countertop to separate the food-prep area from the social/eat-in area.
Part of the entertainment factor also includes the way the design and color of the island flows with the rest of your kitchen and living area. While it’s not necessary to be matchy-matchy with your regular wall cabinetry, it’s a best practice to choose a darker color than your cabinets to create a rich look. Bar-type stools are often the top choice for seating around the counter. You may decide a countertop in a bright color creates a nice flow into the accent pieces of your open-concept living room several feet away. You might select glass doors that can serve as a classy storage alternative on the sides of the island. If space allows, you might add an under-counter wine rack or wine refrigerator! Don’t forget about the area above the island as well to show of your style. Consider suspending cookware or stemware from the ceiling for easy access and a touch of personality.
Depending on the size, shape and style of your kitchen and surrounding area, an island can add more functionality and personality to a highly trafficked area of your home.
Do you have a kitchen island or want one? What design features would you include?