A kitchen Island can transform your kitchen into the social hub of the home. It is the modern day equivalent of the traditional farmhouse kitchen table, where the family activity and meal prep is centred around one big kitchen island in the middle of the room. Without an island in your kitchen, you’re generally facing a wall or window while working, leading to a semi-detached relationship from other areas of your home. Many of our clients tell us about how they enjoy having coffee with a neighbour (or a glass of wine) at the island, or how they can help children with homework more easily while getting on with food prep.
Islands also make working in the kitchen more comfortable because you can quickly pivot between the island and the opposite countertop, and the work surface naturally splits into zones for prep, cooking, and cleaning up. They also make great places for laying food out for parties.
We are often asked: 'Do I need a large room if I want an island?'
The answer to this depends on how large an island you want, and what else you have going on in the space – some smaller spaces end up accommodating an island very easily, and occasionally a large space can be awkward. In terms of size you need to be able to reach the middle of an island, so 1.2m or less is a comfortable depth. The length is more a matter of personal preference and available space.
If your feel your space isn’t large enough for an Island, a kitchen peninsular type arrangement can give the same benefits in a smaller space. A mobile kitchen island on wheels that tucks under a peninsular is another option that allows your kitchen to work in a number of ‘modes’, but I’m planning to write about wheeled islands in a dedicated article soon so I’ll not delve into that topic here.
How would you use an island?
Everyone is different; some people like to have a simple clutter free slab that they can use solely for food prep. Others opt for a hob or sink on the island. A must is integrated electrical outlets: you don’t want to be trailing wires across the gap to use your mixer or laptop on the island! If you want a sink or gas hob on an island it can involve disturbing the floor of the room to run pipes. This isn’t a problem, and we arrange this all the time, but if it casues problems, an easy way round it is to go for an Induction hob on an island because they can be made near flush with the worktop and running a cable to the island is not usually disruptive to the floor surface. We sometimes incorporate a butcher’s block into work surfaces to accommodate chopping. This is a lovely feature that brings warm tones to what is often a large slab of cool stone.
A kitchen island with seating is an important feature for a lot of our clients. Whether this be a kitchen island breakfast bar with stools, or an integrated bench, it’s nice to be able to have company. As furniture makers, we usually design bespoke kitchen island chairs or stools to match the kitchen because off-the-shelf dining chairs are too low to suit the work surface height and it’s so annoying when bar stools don’t fit under the kitchen island.
One of the nice things about kitchen islands is that there is a working side and a side that faces out into the social areas. This lets you hide functional appliances like dishwashers and ovens on the working side and locate wine fridges and display storage facing out so they are easy to access when you have friends over.
A great benefit of the island is the amount of storage below it and 4 sides to access it which creates a lot of premium storage space in the form of drawers or cabinets. There’s also a space in the middle to hide things like the boiler for an instant hot water tap.
Our specialty - the Kitchen Island Table
One of our favourite design details is the kitchen island table. This is a kitchen island supported on large table-style legs. The structure is open, and can support large cabinets or drawers, and the open, airy frame harks back to the traditional farmhouse table that inspires it. We find that being able to partially see through the legs of an island really makes the room feel spacious.
If you have a question about islands, peninsulas, how to plan the layout of your kitchen, or you’d like to talk to us about a project, we’d love to hear from you. You can use the form below to email us, or call us at the workshop on 0151 709 0970.
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