What to choose: a kitchen table or island?

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​What to choose: a kitchen table or island?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Design classic :  Kitchen units by Kitchen Architecture,
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Planning a kitchen makeover? Just feel like updating with a small touch here and there? Doesn’t matter, an extra prepping surface can go a long way in enhancing your cooking space’s functionality. But that brings us to one of the ultimate questions in modern-day kitchens: should I opt for a kitchen island or a table?

Of course we all know that the kitchens of the 21st century are not only for cooking; they have become multi-functional spaces. Also known as “the heart of the home”, the kitchen has also transformed into the place where we work and socialise. And seeing as the formal dining room is slowly becoming a thing of the past, modern kitchens are fast stepping in as a dining-spot replacement. These facts, too, make the question of choosing between a kitchen table or island more pressing, but they don’t provide a clear answer to said question!  

Don’t worry – we’ve done the homework and are more than happy to share the results of comparing a kitchen table with an island (and your average breakfast bar). But like always, we are not explicitly telling you what to, but merely providing you with the facts so you can make an informed decision on your own.

After all, no two lifestyles (or kitchens) are the same!

1. The all-purpose kitchen island

An effortlessly, stylish design :  Kitchen by PTC Kitchens ,
PTC Kitchens

An effortlessly, stylish design

PTC Kitchens

Let’s be honest and declare that one of the very first elements we see upon walking into a kitchen is the island – if there is one, of course. Even more so if someone is already seated at the island or, better, if a spread of delicious food is laid out on the surface. 

Another great advantage of the kitchen island is that, thanks to it being higher than your average kitchen table, you can either sit or stand at it – completely up to you! This is especially comfortable when socialising in the kitchen over a plate of appetisers and some tea (or wine) before moving on to the more formal dining room. That said, the kitchen island can serve as a casual stepping stone between meeting-and-greeting the guests at the front door and kicking off the main event, like a dinner party in the dining room or birthday celebration out on the patio. 

More benefits of the kitchen island: 

• Plenty of storage – an island allows for at least two more cabinets, two drawers, and maybe even some display shelving for a few cookbooks and other collectibles.  

• Its size can vary according to the available space. 

• It doubles up perfectly as a breakfast bar, ensuring a comfy dining space once the worktop overhangs the units and provides space for some stools.  

• An island is great for displaying and storing a few kitchen accessories. 

• Kitchen islands can be used for a multitude of different activities, from food prepping and baking to a comfy homework zone for the kiddies.  

• A lot of homeowners are moving the stove top to the island and treating themselves to a second cooking station, enabling them to prepare meals together and, thus, enjoy more quality time with family and friends. 

The only disadvantage of the kitchen island is that it doesn’t always fit into a galley (long) kitchen; however, it’s perfect for your more typical L-shape and U-shape spaces.

2. Your typical breakfast bar

Mr & Mrs H, Kitchen, Byfleet Village, Surrey:  Kitchen by Raycross Interiors,
Raycross Interiors

Mr & Mrs H, Kitchen, Byfleet Village, Surrey

Raycross Interiors

Advantages of breakfast bars: 

• They provide additional work surface. 

• It’s always the ideal space for informal dining and grabbing a quick bite, and can usually serve up to three or four people at a time.  

• Breakfast bars is the perfect room divider between the working zone and the dining area of the kitchen.  

• Depending on your available space and the depth of the unit, a breakfast bar can also provide cupboards for storage under the breakfast bar at the kitchen side.

3. The kitchen table

We all grew up with a kitchen table that served as the space where we occasionally did our homework, had a chat with mom or a friend, or just sat down to have a meal with the family. Having said that, a kitchen table provides what no modern breakfast bar or kitchen island can: a sentimental feeling and loads of memories! 

Advantages of a kitchen table: 

• Having a table in the kitchen cancels out the need to have a separate dining room. 

• Due to its spacious underside, a kitchen table creates the illusion of a more expansive floor plan, allowing natural light to shine through underneath it.  

• When additional space is not an option, the kitchen table is a more conducive option for smaller kitchens. Your typical island requires a minimum legroom of 90cm all the way around for walking and opening appliance doors, which may not always be feasible for smaller homes.  

• A kitchen table’s surface doubles up perfectly for food prepping and baking.  

• Sitting around a table helps the flow of conversation, especially when no TV is present. 

• Modern kitchen tables can be extended with an extra leaf for visitors.

4. What about an island and a table?

Of course it’s not uncommon to discover a kitchen that flaunts both an island for food prepping and cooking and a table for dining. What’s become even more fashionable is having two kitchen islands, where one serves as a cooking- and prepping zone, and the other for socialising or doing homework.

5. In the end, which is best?

Open Plan Kitchen and Dining Room:  Kitchen by Resi Architects in London,
Resi Architects in London

Open Plan Kitchen and Dining Room

Resi Architects in London

Interestingly, a study by the Cornell University discovered that families who dine together at a table in the kitchen or dining room usually have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indexes). In addition, dining at a kitchen table creates quiet time with the family, ensures a more relaxing atmosphere, and fosters family interaction. 

The verdict? Even though kitchen islands, tables and breakfast bars all have their own advantages (some of which overlap with one another), they all ensure the most important benefit: enabling family and friends to sit and eat together as a group. And anything that supports social interactions in a home is usually associated with better health and enables stronger family bonds.

So, you choose which is right for your household: a kitchen table or island! 

Is your kitchen conducive to a positive home ambience? Let’s see How to create the perfect Feng Shui kitchen.

We’d love to know which one you’ll pick for your home: a kitchen table or an island!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd,

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