Most homeowners consider the kitchen to be the heart of their home and the island its hub, so it makes sense that its placement and design play huge roles in establishing the traffic pattern. Although most homeowners want an island, it's necessary to understand how the space will be used before it is designed. Here are some things to consider before designing a new kitchen island or re-designing an existing one.

Tips to Creating a Practical Kitchen Island That Looks Great Too

 

1. Think Function First

Kitchen islands need to earn the space they occupy. Here are the main things islands should do and design suggestions for each of their functions.

Food Prep

  • The cooktop and refrigerator should be close.
  • There should be outlets for appliances.
  • The cook should have access to a disposal unit or compost bin.
  • A butcher block and prep sink are great additions.

Cooking

  • There should be at least 18 inches of space on both sides of the range or cooktop.
  • The countertop should be made from a heat-resistant material like granite or quartz.
  • Install a downward draft or an overhead vent hood.
  • A raised eating area needs to be out of the range of cooking food.

Clean Up

  • Easy access to silverware and dish storage is ideal.
  • There should be enough storage for dish soap, dish towels, and the like.
  • The dishwasher door must have enough clearance space to open and close.
  • Install dual-height counters to hide dirty dishes.
  • Compost bins or pull-out garbage need to be next to the sink.

Informal Dining

  • Have softly contoured edges to make the island comfortable to sit on.
  • The counter’s width and height should be designed for standard-sized stools and chairs.

Designing an island that may be too big for the kitchen can affect the clearances of the cabinets and appliances. However, there is no harm in going overboard with the island size if space allows.

2. Innovative Designs and Shapes

Time and time again, we’ve heard the phrase “think outside the box” when looking for a solution to a design conundrum. Designing your kitchen island is another one of those moments. Most of us gravitate towards square islands as they are the most popular, but this is a textbook idea, and it will do you good to steer clear of it. Consider having a T-shaped or L-shaped one instead, or even a circular kind. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the shape of a kitchen island. The best thing to do is to allow the kitchen to dictate its size and shape and not fall for conventions.

3. Ventilation and Lighting

Ventilation

Yes, life would be easier if you didn’t have to think about ventilation at all. As mentioned earlier, you can install a downdraft fan right behind the cooktop. This solves the visual problem of having a hood overhead, which can mess up the aesthetics of the space but eliminates cooking odours. However, you can mount another exhaust fan in the ceiling if necessary. This helps limit condensation on the inside of windows, especially during winters.

Lighting

Wherever there is activity in a house, light is needed, and the same holds true for the kitchen. In the case of kitchen islands, there should be dedicated lighting to properly illuminate the workspace. Also, consider task lighting directly above the island to make working in the area easier. Similarly, you may look at recessed lights which are one of the most popular options for homes with standard-height ceilings. If your countertop is six feet from the ceiling or more, use bulbs and fixtures designed to project light downwards rather than spreading it around. Pendant lights hanging from the ceiling are another great option, but be careful as it is easy to mount them at the wrong height, which can either blind you with bright light or block your view due to inadequate light.

4. A Countertop That Blends

Your countertop shouldn’t just blend in with the existing theme and style of your kitchen but also reflect your culinary taste and cooking skills. Quartz countertops, for instance, are a great choice as they are low-maintenance and can increase your property value. Not only are they durable, but also available in limitless textures, colours, and patterns available to suit any décor.

An island is a great centerpiece that can lift the appeal of your kitchen almost instantly. However, you need to think of the aesthetics along with its practicality to ensure it looks flawless. If you still can’t make up your mind, contact kitchen experts to help you make the right decision. Remember, at the end of the day, it's about attaining the kitchen of your dreams.

Published by Eric Foley