Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kitchen Island - The Harmonious Element in the Kitchen Design

Two Island Kitchen
Two Island Kitchen

The kitchen island is the most coveted component of a kitchen design. It is the number one requested feature in a kitchen remodel, bar none.  Unfortunately the size of your kitchen greatly impacts whether or not you can have an island. Galley kitchens and small kitchens lack the necessary space required for this design element.

The biggest challenges to incorporating a kitchen island into the design are the location and the size of the island.  In order to have a workable design the island needs to fit into the kitchen; not disrupt the kitchen.  It can be any size and shape, however, traffic flow patterns and the overall structure of the kitchen space should dictate both the size of the island and where it can be situated to be the most effective for your family needs.  In the two island kitchen design pictured above my challenge was to situate the main island under the coffered ceiling.  This was a new construction home so putting in the plumbing and  the electrical would be done after my placement of the island.  All islands must have electrical outlets.

What cabinetry or appliances you want in the island depends on your needs and your budget. In this kitchen the main island housed the sink, dishwasher and trash compactor as well as  drawer base cabinets.   The second island had a vegetable sink, cookie tray cabinet and cabinets with accessories like a cutting board and spice racks and a cookbook shelf.  Cabinets choices will depend on what you want to do at that island.  Regarding space around the island, in general plan  on 42" to 48" on any side that faces another appliance such as the oven or dishwasher where a opened door can infringe on the space.  On other sides at least 36" is recommended.

Homeowners love islands for three main reasons:  storage, work space, sociability.   In other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck when you can incorporate and island into your kitchen remodel.


Six large drawers
A designer will work with you to figure out the cabinetry layout in  your island.  This requires some thought because this is a very versatile space.  Take some time to think about the purpose of your island: prep space, cooking area, clean up space, eating space.  Different purposes require different cabinetry.  If it's a cooking island you will need a spice area, pot/pans, etc.  If it's for clean up then you need drawers for dish towels close at hand, etc.  Popular items in the island: Trash/recycle cabinet, small or large sink, dishwasher if it houses your main sink, pots/pans drawers, microwave, undercounter beverage/wine refrigerator, drawer base cabinet, tray cabinet.  Every island is different because the kitchen space and the needs of the client are different.

Work Space:
Although we all like as much work space as possible, you need to keep in mind the size of the kitchen and the scale of the island within that kitchen.  The island can not impede the cook's task  in any way.  Kitchens are family rooms but they are designed chiefly for the cook.  If you have a sink or cooktop in your island then you should have ample room on both sides of the feature to work.  

An island in the kitchen is a big magnet.  It's the gathering place when you have a big party, a few guest or just the family at home.  The biggest advantage of an island is that it allows the cook to be part of the conversations. It separates and includes the cook at the same time as long as the island is placed correctly within the space.  Another big factor in the sociability aspect of this harmonious element is that it often is used to delineate in large spaces or open floor plans by bringing the kitchen into its adjoining room without any confusion.  You can have your living room or dining room on one side of the island and the kitchen on the other.




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