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What is the most requested Kitchen renovation option? I want an “ISLAND” in my kitchen…

Well let’s discuss some Kitchen Island ideas. Today we are adding islands to our designs more than ever and the larger the better! I think the big trend towards islands is people tend to congregate in the kitchen and to do this around a central table seems to just work, hence the island. In, the island you can place a stovetop for cooking, a sink and dish washer for cleaning, a secondary sink for food preparation… It can be a seated island one level or two… it can be permanent or movable… and they can be done in many shapes, lets discuss.

The Cooking Island: A few ways to use the island for cooking is with a cook top and oven, a range or just a microwave in a base cabinet. Major cooking in your island tends to be more complicated. You will need to add ventilation whether a hood overhead or a down draft system. You will also now have a harder time controlling splatter and grease during cooking especially if the island is seated and can be dangerous with having unexpected hot surfaces. This being said, it still can be good for the right circumstances. Today most of my cooking islands tend to only include a microwave. When installing a microwave island you can use microwave drawer which is designed for this application, a standard microwave with a side swinging door and now some manufacturers are building combo microwave / convection that open like a conventional oven.

The Sink Island: This type of island tends to be the most popular and very useful. We will usually include dishwasher and garbage for functionality. The best part of this type of island is it allows preparation and clean up while still maintaining good social interaction because nobody has his or her back to anybody. This type of island tends to work very well with seating especially with children so serving and clean up of quick meals goes effortlessly. You can also place a secondary sink on an island which works in multiple cooks / prep kitchens. This allows 2 people to work more comfortably in a kitchen preparing meals and not getting in each other’s way.

The Clean Island: The clean island has nothing in the way and has a nice large unobstructed surface. This type of island tends to be for the household that does projects and/or entertains frequently. When doing projects whether school with the kids, sewing project or just organizing pictures for photo albums having a nice large layout space is great and is actually requested often for these types of reasons. Also, this type of island is perfect for laying out food for buffet style entertaining or even food staging during large gatherings.

The Seated Island: Again most of our islands end up being seated when the space allows. I almost always recommend single level islands when having seats. Even thought it might seem to be more interesting or that it might block the messiness, a two level island tends to be very inefficient and uncomfortable. There are also harder to keep clean than a single surface. The other type requested seated option is 2 and 3 sided seating which makes the island look a little more like a table / cabinet hybrid. These islands are great when removing the eat-in kitchen table and still maintaining a dining room table. The main reason for this request is that it is hard to socialize in a single row so having 2 and 3 sided really helps a family communicate with each other.

The Long Island: This is really the oversized island. Today we are doing larger and larger islands and most customers are looking to do this with single slab construction so they don’t encounter any seams. Usually this type of island needs to have countertop choice not only made but the actual slabs secured prior to ordering the cabinets. Once you commit to cabinet layout and order them it becomes very difficult and expensive if you need to change them later if you can’t get a top that fits. Even with man made quartz materials in jumbo sizes available you might find yourself waiting for backordered material and no replacements. Also don’t forget and make sure you can get the top it into the space when installing, very heavy and they don’t bend around corners.

Island Spacing and Function Tips:

1. Try to keep you minimum walkways to 42”, If need can go as close as 36”

2. On seated sides minimum 48” for walkways.

3. Allow 24” in width per seat, your shoulders are wider than the actual stool.

4. There are three types of stools, Table Height for 30” tables, Counter Height for 36” typical kitchen cabinet height and Bar Height for 42” raised counter height.

5. Typical stool overhang is approximately 12”

6. Don’t hang lights lower than occupants standing eye height

7. Don’t forget good outlet locations and USB outlets are great too.

The interesting thing about the “Kitchen Island” is no matter what style you choose or even combining styles that fit your family’s needs, I have never had a customer who regretted having an island that was designed right. So whether it is long, short or even “L” shaped it will never be deserted. So plan well, think about your needs and build that island!