Kitchens can be tricky rooms to design. They not only must look visually stunning, but be utilitarian as well. This juxtaposition of form and function often merges in islands. These multifunctional and versatile spaces can be an oasis in today’s kitchens, providing more usable cooking, dining and storage space for the homeowner.
Most kitchens have to function as a food prep area, cooking station, dining space, and a place to convene. Islands are a great way to separate these zones and to establish the work triangle recommended by kitchen design experts. The work triangle is the area of movement between the sink, stove and refrigerator.
Islands tend to work best in L- or U-shaped kitchens. The standard for an island-compatible kitchen is one that measures at least 10- by 10-feet and is open to another room in the home. While there are exceptions, putting an island in a kitchen with lesser dimensions could make it difficult to maneuver through the space.
Experts suggest allowing a minimum of 36- to 42-inches as a walkway between existing cabinets and an island. Islands can be closer to plain walls, about 36-inches, but need to be further, 42- inches or more, from appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers so you can open appliance doors without nicking cabinetry or pinning yourself in.
Most islands have a counter height identical with the existing ones, but you may opt for a multi-level island to separate zones. Lower sections can be used as a desk or eating area, while taller sections accommodate bar stool seating or display space. Consider how you plan to use the island when designing its shape and levels.
You may also like to have a cooktop on your island. This feature may tighten your work triangle, but free up display or workspace on existing countertops. Just remember to allow 12-inches of counter space on each side of your cooktop for fire prevention and ask about building a downdraft vent or installing an overhead hood for proper ventilation. A second sink on your island is a great station for food prep or cleanup. Including a garbage disposal may also be a good idea for an island sink to avoid transporting trash across the kitchen.
Modern islands can find a place for any appliance you need. Warming drawers, dishwashers, wall ovens, wine chillers and any other amenity you could desire are all easily added into island designs. With the addition of electrical appliances you must account for power sources. Experts will tell you it is a good idea to put electrical outlets on the sides of the island instead of on top to help prevent the risk of shocks.
Islands come in every style, from traditional to contemporary to country. So much more than merely extra counter space, these design gems can be the heart of a kitchen, acting as merely a gathering spot or a fully operational base of kitchen operations. Regardless of the current style of your kitchen, an island can be created to fit the current decor or be the springboard for an entirely new look while increasing the ease of productivity in your culinary center.