An oasis for your busy kitchen
The kitchen island - aptly named because it is unattached and permits access from all sides - adds extra work space as well as decoration to your kitchen. An island can be as simple as a plain table set in the middle of the floor or an elaborate custom-built unit complete with running water and electricity.
These days, designers are incorporating kitchen islands into more new homes because of their practicality and convenience. Islands add a sense of style along with more kitchen storage area and counter space for additional appliances.
The typical kitchen island is a simple flat surface counter that matches the countertops of the other cabinets. However, designers today are now creating different kitchen island styles with corner posts, wine racks, multi-leveled surfaces for food preparation and dining, shelving and unique storage solutions, making the island less of a last minute addition and more of a kitchen focal point.
When deciding to install an island you must plan its incorporation into your kitchen as meticulously as you would the kitchen cabinets - you can't just stick a kitchen island in the middle of the floor and hope for the best! To make sure your island is fully functional and effective, keep in mind the following considerations:
- First verify you have enough room. Some kitchens are simply too small to accommodate an island. Plan this out by drawing a chalk outline on the floor matching the dimensions of your desired island, then practice walking around those lines as if the island was actually there. If you feel crowded and boxed in, you probably have to adjust your design to either a smaller, longer, rounder or narrower island or perhaps none at all.
- Take space measurements. The walkway between your island and cabinets or other fixtures should measure 36 to 42 inches wide - if your island is near a plain wall, 36 inches is sufficient, however, if it will be near a major kitchen appliance you must leave ample room for the doors on these appliances to open freely. Allot a distance of 42 inches.
- Define the purpose. How do you plan on using your island? Will it be a fully functional counter with a sink and running water, a house to a fridge or dishwasher or extra drawers for storage, or will it simply be a place to throw your keys and junk mail when you get home after work?
- Determine the proper height. Your island should be the same height as the rest of your countertops, however if you choose to use it as a bar or a breakfast nook, you could elevate it to accommodate bar stools.
- Consider your options. If your kitchen is not large enough to accommodate a fixed island, you could invest in a portable version that can easily and conveniently be stored near a wall after use.
The choices of kitchen countertops for your island are as endless as those for your stationary cabinets. They can match your counters, or they can contrast, as in the case of a butcher block countertop - the choice is up to you and your design taste!