How to pick your perfect kitchen island

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How to pick your perfect kitchen island

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Kitchen & Dining:  Kitchen by Gracious Luxury Interiors
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Out of all the features that can make a kitchen look elegant, functional and complete, none come close to the fantastic kitchen island.

A big and sturdy refrigerator might have its place and a gleaming stainless steel stove is also noticeable, but a kitchen island is a prime centrepiece that shows off a commitment to food prepping. In addition, it’s also a convenient space to serve cuisine, as well as a comfortable place for socialising, because we all know that the heart of the home is about so much more than cooking. 

The advantages of a beautiful kitchen island are no secret, yet a lot of homeowners sans island find it difficult to know how and where that piece will fit in with the rest of their kitchen. Don’t forget that kitchen islands are also available in numerous styles, sizes and designs, which can make the task of choosing the perfect one even more daunting. 

Let’s make finding the ideal kitchen island for your culinary space much easier…

Identify your kitchen shape

Contrary to what many may think, not every kitchen should have an island – it all depends on the shape of the space. 

The best floor plans for a kitchen island is a large U-shaped- and L-shaped space. Placing this feature into the middle of these layouts can easily create two separate work stations, not to mention divide the cooking zone from the rest of the room in an open-play layout. 

Adding an island to a galley or peninsula kitchen disrupts the flow of the space, making the kitchen difficult to use. This is because these kitchens consist of two parallel work areas focused around an aisle of floor space. 

homify hint: There should be at least 90cm of circulation space surrounding the kitchen island.

The types of kitchen islands

The Market Design & Build


The Market Design & Build

Kitchen islands generally fit into two categories: fixed islands and mobile carts. 

A built-in island can be a great idea for a kitchen with enough legroom, as one of its main advantages is adding in extra dining space for any meal of the day (something which greatly influences a house’s asking price, as any real estate agent will confirm). Although food prepping surfaces and storage space are also terrific add-ons, it’s the idea of having somewhere extra to sit and eat/work (with the appropriate stools, of course) that appeal to many. 

A mobile island cart on wheels can easily be moved about, depending on your need for more legroom. This versatile feature also ensures more food preparation areas, plus storage opportunities for kitchen tools, cookbooks, etc. The best part is that mobile carts are more affordable than built-in islands, making them ideal for smaller budgets.

The right kitchen island: space and size

Old English - Bespoke kitchen project in Cambridgeshire :  Kitchen by Baker & Baker
Baker & Baker

Old English—Bespoke kitchen project in Cambridgeshire

Baker & Baker

Should you dream of including an island in your next kitchen renovation, take the following into consideration first: the recommended amount of space between a kitchen island and the nearest counter or wall is about 106cm. Should you plan to include a breakfast bar on the one side, this pushes it up to about 150cm.

Also keep in mind that the counter will need to overhang at least 45cm if you plan on including seating. 

Should you not have adequate space, a mobile cart might be a more viable option.

The right kitchen island: function

Kitchen and Lighting:  Kitchen by CATO creative
CATO creative

Kitchen and Lighting

CATO creative

Want your island to add more than dining- and prepping space? Consider these choice inclusions: 

• Overhead storage: pots and pans dangling from the ceiling can add storage space, plus help to visually anchor your island.  

• Sink: a small sink in the island for rinsing vegetables can leave the larger sink open to other uses, like washing dishes.  

• A stovetop/cooker: adding a stovetop to your island can expand counter space, or create room for a double oven. 

Don’t forget about the kitchen’s work triangle, the design principle that facilitates easy movement between your three main appliances: the stove, sink and fridge. The space between these appliances must never be less than 90cm and more than 213cm. Moving a sink or stovetop to your island can help shrink the work triangle in a large kitchen.

The style of your island

Contemporary take on a French Country Kitchen:  Kitchen by At No 19
At No 19

Contemporary take on a French Country Kitchen

At No 19

Your kitchen island’s style can be dictated in two ways: its function, and the rest of the kitchen design. 

Function: if baking is one of the main activities in your kitchen, consider a marble top (ideal for kneading dough). If it’s cooking, a butcher block island top can be a perfect addition to your kitchen. 

Kitchen design: Like any other feature or appliance, your island should complement the rest of your kitchen’s design. Although the colours of the doors and cabinet may vary, the main style, accent, mouldings etc. should match. Should you choose to use different colours for your island, make sure they are reflected somewhere else in your kitchen’s design.

Lighting it up

Painted Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones:  Kitchen by Harvey Jones Kitchens
Harvey Jones Kitchens

Painted Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones

Harvey Jones Kitchens

Task lighting (a light source that highlights a specific action/task in a space) plays a crucial role in any kitchen; thus, should you plan the inclusion of a kitchen island, make sure to focus on task lighting above it. 

This could be anything from adding ceiling pendants and track lights or simply adding additional recessed lights above the island to better illuminate its surfaces. 

Should you plan on moving your stovetop to the island, you’ll need to factor in space for a vent hood as well, such as hanging it from the ceiling along with the lights.

Enhancing your kitchen design

Modern Country-Style Kitchen:  Kitchen by Gracious Luxury Interiors
Gracious Luxury Interiors

Modern Country-Style Kitchen

Gracious Luxury Interiors

With the right measurements and a thorough knowledge of what you require in your kitchen, a kitchen island can be the perfect addition to your culinary space. 

homify hint: An old console table can easily be repurposed into a kitchen island – simply top it off with a new stone / butcher block top for an easy DIY project. 

Are you on board with the Kitchen trends for 2018? Find out now…

What does your perfect kitchen island look like? Let us know in the comments section...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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