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Dreaming of a kitchen island? The best place to start is to decide what you want to use it for.
Kitchen islands were originally used for practical
reasons, the idea being to reduce the length of
the working triangle in very large kitchens. Today
they are a must have for many people due to
changes in the way we live and socialise. The
kitchen was once a place where food was
prepared and cooked, everything else happened
somewhere else in the home. Today kitchens are
more than that, a place to prepare meals but also
eat them, kids doing their homework, entertaining
guests, having parties, watching TV, a living
space. Kitchen islands can meet a lot of needs,
both practical and aesthetic in this environment
but it can be easy to end up with one that does
not fulfill either purpose well if not properly
thought through. So best begin with the
You may want an island simply because they are
very much in fashion at the moment but it is
worth considering the above early in the design of
your kitchen in order to get the best from it. Here
are a few things to think about depending on
what you want to do;
- The proximity of the island to the fridge.
- Will the sink be part of the island and if so how
will you get water and waster water resolved.
- It might be nice to have a mix of worktop
material, maybe stone with an inset butchers
block for chopping vegetables etc.
- Enough drawer space for knives, food
processors, other essential utensils.
- Recycle waste bins for easy disposal of
peelings and the like.
So, is your island for preparing food, cooking, seating, eating or for delineating space? Here are a few ideas and considerations.
Sitting / Eating
- Regular use or casual dining? How many
- Sociable, facing each other, or not, facing the
- Stools or chairs, a kitchen island height of
900mm will accommodate most bar stools whilst
720 to 750mm is fine for chairs.
- Storage for cutlery, plates, glasses.
- Just the hob or is the oven going to be included.
If so make sure you have enough room to move
comfortably when the oven door is open.
- Where is the sink, you do not want to be
walking a long way with pans of boiling water!
- Large pan drawers for all your cookware and
storage for utensils like ladles, spatulas and
- Extractors can be tricky, there are only two
ways to vent them from an island, through the
ceiling or under the floor, are either of these
practical in your property.
- Enough worktop space either side of the hob to
prevent pan handles being a safety hazard.
- If you are lucky enough to have a large open
plan living space islands are a great way to divide
the kitchen from the living area in a subtle way.
- What will you want to do / store on the kitchen
side of the island and the living space side.
- If you are going to be preparing or clearing up
after meals then consider dual heights, the living
side only has to be slightly higher and dirty,
dishes, chopping boards and general kitchen
detriutus are hidden from view.
Islands in kitchens require more space than many people realise.
Amidst the excitement of planning new kitchens
and visualising them with that island unit you
have always wanted it is easy to underestimate
the amount of space needed for one.
If your island is going to be, say 2 meters long by
1 meter wide, the minimum space requirement
for efficient and comfortable use will be 4 meters
by 3 meters that is more than twice the size of
the actual island units. This is the single most
underestimated issue when planning a kitchen
Don't plan and install one if there is not quite
enough room for it, in the long run you will regret
it. Banging your backside on units that are too
close when you are getting something out of a
drawer in your island will eventually become a
real annoyance. As will having to perform
contortions to load the dishwasher, walking
sideways when you have bags of shopping in
your hands and having to say "after you" when
more than one person is using the space.
If this is what you encounter in the design stage
of your kitchen there are other solutions that will
work better in your situation.
This island is being used for food preparation and seating, note how the thicker piece of worktop provides room for stools and takes the sink out of eyeline.
Sleek and interestingly shaped, there is plenty of foot room around the island unit and the use of drawers makes access to everything very easy.
Part kitchen table, part island, the use of legs instead of plinths adds interest,
Ergonomically correct height for the sink and the proximity of the hob illustrates that this island is well thought out apart from the lack of worktop space to the right of the hob.
With a granite chopping block, unusual drawer units and shelving this kitchen island is almost a piece of furniture in it's own right.