are getting bigger. So are kitchen islands. Even
as family sizes decrease, the popularity of beautiful
kitchens, designer cabinets, and custom appliances
is on the rise.
Many homeowners are installing larger and larger
kitchens with functional islands that not only
look beautiful but add storage space and sizeable
Look for islands that are longer and wider than
ever before. Flat surface islands (rather than
multi-level) add a degree of simplicity and can
help avoid a choppy look to a kitchen. Bump-outs,
corner posts, inset areas, and open shelving are
details that add personality and style. A number
of useful and decorative innovations have been
applied to this new "necessity" of the
kitchen. An island can be as plain as a tabletop
On the other end of the spectrum an island can
be as complex as fine cabinetry that incorporates
a sink, hob, display space, storage, refrigerator
drawers, warming ovens, dishwashers, wine chillers,
A single surface island is the simplest and most
common. However, many homeowners opt for multi-level
islands to accommodate both prep and eating areas,
wine racks, cookbook shelves, bar sinks, deep
fryers, and other amenities. Additional levels
can add interest and functionality.
Multiple islands are another possibility in large
spaces. A prep island might be placed near the
work triangle with a second serving or eating
island positioned on the edge of the kitchen space.
When planning a kitchen island in your home, keep
the following measurements in mind. Allow a minimum
of 36" to 42" as a walkway between existing
cabinets and the island. An island can be located
closer to plain walls (36"), but needs to
be further away (42" or more) from appliances
such as stoves, refrigerators, and dishwasher
so you'll have room to manoeuvre and open appliance
An island's counter height can be the same as
other countertops in the kitchen, or it can include
lower levels for desks and eating areas. Some
islands also include a higher level for tall bar
seating or display space, or as a barrier to shield
prep areas from living spaces.
Before you put in an island, consider how you might use it,
whether you'll need seating, electricity, prep centres,
recycling bins, roll out shelves, cookbook storage,
refrigerator drawers, and the like.
Another consideration is the work "triangle"
that is already in your kitchen. This area of movement
between the sink, stove, and refrigerator. An efficient
work triangle shouldn't be interrupted without careful
thought as to the impact of the island on work habits.
Portable islands are another possibility. These can
be freestanding or rolling worktables made of wood or
stainless steel, and generally have a steel, tile, or
wood countertop. A rolling cart or mobile kitchen island
may also be placed in the centre of a kitchen or next
to a blank wall for additional versatility within the
To see if an island would fit in your kitchen, try stacking
up empty moving boxes in the size and shape of the island
you'd like. Live with it for a week or so to see how
the size works in relation to your appliances and layout.
Reduce or increase the size if necessary. Try a longer,
narrow version, or one with cut-off or rounded corners.
Also, consider options for multi-level islands, for
storage and display space, and for design details and
As for style, there's something for every taste - traditional,
contemporary, or country. An island can match existing
cabinetry or it can contrast in cabinets, finish, or
countertop material. It can be freestanding or installed,
on casters or table-style with legs. The choice is yours.