Ah, the kitchen island. It can feel more like a source of stress than a place of order and function without the right design. So how do you pick what’s right for you?
That doesn’t mean you’re completely stuck with what you’ve got, although you will want to take into account where plumbing and gas lines already do — or don’t — exist, whether you want to move them and the cost of adding or moving any pipes.
Regardless of whether you’re building from scratch or renovating, start with the basics: Where do you want to be looking while you’re cooking, doing prep work for your meals or cleaning dishes in the sink? Out a window? Toward your family or guests sitting around a bar or in the adjacent family room? Or perhaps even overlooking a dining room table.
Kitchen islands come in all shapes and sizes — from large islands to portable rolling carts. They can include stovetops with a hood that comes out from below or one overhead. They can contain sinks, prep areas, storage, wine fridges, icemakers and more. The options are almost limitless.
Come up with your plan for kitchen island seating
Pretty much all of our clients want to incorporate seating into their islands, so let’s start there. Bar seating is the most common feature, and you’ll want to think about how many people will need to fit. Three seats are common, but we always tell clients to seating for 4 — or even more, depending on how many people live in the house and if there’s enough space.
If you can’t expand the island depth, a wraparound option can provide the best of both worlds — plenty of space to prep meals, with or without a sink and other features, and enough seating for everyone. One of our favorite island projects seats six people at one end of the island while leaving plenty of counter space and storage on the other side.
But what if you don’t really like bar stools for your seating? Guess what, you can still have an island with meal prep space, storage, a sink and attached seating. You just have to think a little outside the box.
Adding banquette seating on one side of this island provided these clients with more space around a large table. It’s so big, you can fit at least eight people — more than you could fit at a regular island with bar stools. And the island still provides all the things you need, plus lets the cook or entertainer overlook the dining area while they work.
Why not double your kitchen island space?
If you have enough space, here’s something you might never have thought of before: The double island kitchen. Why choose what elements you want in an island and which you have to leave behind when you can have the best of both worlds?
One of the kitchens we renovated originally had a single kitchen island so massive that it wasn’t completely functional or efficient. The client couldn’t even reach the middle of the island, and there was only storage space on one side, leaving a ton of wasted space.
So we split it into two functional spaces: One island became a prep space for cooking with a sink. The other island became an entertaining area with a beverage fridge, icemaker and seating — perfect for hosting those get-togethers with family and friends. We included a sink on the second island as well, making it perfect as a sort of built-out wet bar.
Don’t forget the necessities — and accessories
Now that you know the type of island you’d like and where the major features such as a sink or stovetop will be placed, it’s time to think about a few other elements. Obviously lighting is key, but don’t forget the extras you can incorporate into the space. In addition to a beverage fridge or icemaker like the kitchen above, you could add other features like a microwave, coffee bar, a second dishwasher or whatever else will make your island — or islands — more functional.
Just make sure you’re leaving enough space: You don’t want the island to take up the entire kitchen and make it difficult to move about. Instead it should feel like it’s always belonged there and keeps the kitchen and dining room design flowing.
The basic architecture of your house and kitchen will often guide your renovation. And if you need help, just give us a call. We can give you all the design ideas to make your kitchen a joy to cook and entertain in, whether or not you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.
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