Islands can create the focal point that every kitchen needs. Read on to see how to get the most from this popular kitchen must have.
LAYOUT AND STORAGE
Islands can offer versatility to a kitchen by being part of the working triangle, but it is imperative that they are well positioned, or you could be creating a roundabout. All good kitchen designs will try and limit the steps between the main zones in the kitchen. For example, the oven, hob, sink and fridge need to be in fairly close proximity or using the kitchen will literally be tiresome. Ideally a metre will be left between the island and other units and appliances. As more and more of us embrace the benefits of open plan living, the island works brilliantly to zone these areas and creates a barrier to the busy, traffic hotspot areas, especially with young children around.
The Island can work harder by incorporating one or more of your appliances and utilities. One of the most popular additions is the sink and dishwasher. Great if your island faces out onto glazing, you have the vista of your garden whilst washing up! Just be aware that getting water and electric to your island will involve some electrics and plumbing works and chasing these through the floors which you will have to factor into your fitting costs. At the same time, it’s vital you include ample plug sockets on your island. They’re not only useful for powering small appliances like stand mixers and food processors, they’ll also be handy for charging phones and laptops – as working from home continues to be a way of life. Cabling will need to laid before screed is put down. Sockets can then be fitted before the worktops are installed. Choose sockets with USB slots as most of our tech uses these to charge.
Are you fond of entertaining at home? Then consider positioning the hob in the island. If you opt for seating on the opposite side, you can face your guests as you whip up your dinner party favourites. If you are going for the full entertainment factor, why not add a wine cooler? Facing out onto your dining area, perfectly temperature-controlled bottles are only an arm’s length away. Shallow depth storage facing towards your dining area can also be a useful addition. Napkin rings, condiment servers, even glassware are easily reachable for the laying of the table.
You may choose to keep the island worktop completely clear. This frees up space for activities such as baking and can make the island a more usable area for day-to-day dining.
It is possible to view each side of the island as having a separate purpose. A working side that faces your units and incorporates easily accessible storage such as pan drawers for baking trays and saucepans is so useful to have opposite a range or hob. Then make the opposite side, or even the ends, work hard in an aesthetic way with space for open shelving to display your favourite cookbooks.
Seating is something that will require consideration. How will you use the island? Morning coffee’s? family breakfasts? a sociable glass of wine whilst your partner cooks dinner perhaps? If it is only for occasional seating, then perhaps as a family of 6 you won’t need to accommodate 6 bar stools, especially if your dining table is close by. However, in a breakfast or dining kitchen you may find that adding a low-level dining area to the island will make the most practical use of the space. You can design a kitchen island that feels inviting for dining by dropping to a lower height worktop, meaning you can use standard dining chair rather than high bar stools. It’s great idea for family kitchens, where you might not want little ones clambering precariously onto bar stools.
You will need to allow for around 60cm per seat to give everyone elbow and knee room at bar height, even more if you go for heavily upholstered stools or swivel stools. Where more than 2-3 stools are required, consider having them adjacent rather than in a row for a more conversation friendly layout.
A taller, or ‘flying’ breakfast bar serves two purposes. Firstly, its height is great for more casual eating and drinking. And second, if you do make a mess in the kitchen, it’s obscured from view of guests by the bar!
Colour schemes are another thing to think about. Lots of people like to use their island to inject a splash of on-trend colour or an eye-catching texture to uplift an otherwise neutral colour scheme. It can also be a method of keeping the cost down of going paint to order if you apply the colour to the island only and stick with stock colours for the rest of your kitchen. And with solid wooden doors if you tire of the colour in a few years simply have them re-painted.
Create a hybrid of styles within your kitchen scheme by combining worktop materials on your kitchen island. Use a different material to indicate a change of function for that portion of the kitchen island. For example a wooden butchers bock paired with solid marble, granite or quartz.
In large kitchens with lots of cabinetry, pale worktops with light-reflective finishes can help break up solid blocks of colour and add visual interest to a space. For a central kitchen island with outward-facing cabinets, opt for glass door fronts in place of a solid bank of doors. Glass reflects light too, bouncing it across a room to further enhance the feeling of spaciousness.
Waterfall worktops where the worktop literally drops down the sides of the island work best with squared edge materials like quartz, or Ceramic. They add a touch of luxury and protect the corners and sides of your island.
Don’t forget the show-back either, standard painted panels are fine, but you could make it scuff proof by using the same material as your worktop or introducing some colour with a laminate board or texture with tongue and groove.
As far as kitchen lighting ideas go, the island is one of the most important focal points – some would say the star of the show. While you want the entire kitchen to be lit for your needs it’s imperative to make sure the island fits perfectly within the lighting plan.
As it often serves as the main food prep station and the hub of entertaining it needs to be well-lit, most likely by multiple lighting options. Whether that’s overhead spotlights or lanterns, which you can dim for intimacy or brighten for practical task lighting, ensure the main focus for good lighting is the centre of the island.
We hope that this has given you something to think about and if you are in need of some friendly, professional help with your kitchen design, just drop us a line, we would be happy to hear from you.
The design team @paulrowleskitchens x