Kitchen islands are not only functional, in that they provide an additional working space in the kitchen, they are a great way to enhance the overall appeal of the area. Best suited to open kitchens that are L-shaped, they may also be great for those with a single counter. In an enclosed kitchen, one that is not so large, it may be more of a hindrance than a utility. In any case, island counters have the capacity to add the perfect aesthetic value to a kitchen that no amount of cabinetry or decoration will do. Here, we discuss some ideas, but not before learning about some basics.
If you have a parallel kitchen, or one with parallel work tops, having an island there will only hinder your movement around. Also, they should be to scale, and not stick out like a sore thumb. Now, even a small table can serve the purpose. The idea is to keep it in proportion with the size of the kitchen. An island counter always requires a minimum of 42 inches of space all around it, particularly if there are appliances around it. This is to enable easy movement and allow easy access to these appliances. Finally, there is no limit to the cabinetry you can have below it, but when you utilize it for the purpose of seating or decide have a breakfast bar, ensure that the counter top extends at least 6-12 inches beyond the actual cabinetry for leg room.
The designs can be as fancy or as minimalistic as you want them to be. They depend on your choice, and the space available around. Keeping these two factors in mind, you may choose from any of the following ideas.
- Though an island counter should ideally blend with the rest of the design, there is no harm in giving it a dash of color to have it stand out a little. The idea is to strike a balance so that it looks like a part of the décor, yet has its own identity amid the rest of the kitchen.
- Another way to design it is to use different materials to divide work surfaces. For instance, you could add a butcher's block (chopping board) that is a wooden surface on 1/4th of the island surface, and keep the remainder granite as a work surface. This not only serves dual purposes but also adds an element of interest.
- A two-level island can beautifully utilize the concept of multiple surfaces. A level made of wood that is higher than the granite work surface serves as a small breakfast table, and gives it a dynamic look.
- Add a wine rack on one side of an island in an open kitchen, and a side that shows in the living or dining room. As a design element on its own, you don't need to do much to make it stand out. Further, you can include open shelving and have the cabinets below the island covered with glass doors to give it a unique look.
- If you are a minimalist and don't like bulky furniture, just a long rectangular table with two chairs around it can do the trick. You could also use a table on wheels to make your island counter portable, or mount old storage cabinets on casters and use them as a mobile island counter, which you can keep aside when you want to give your kitchen a larger appeal. This is a particularly great idea for small spaces.
- If you want to customize the design, try having the counter in various shapes. Circular, wedge-shaped, angular, perfectly square, or long and rectangular with a rounded or a semi-circular edge is another great way to add that style and dynamism.
- Think of your dining table attached to the island counter where your kids can spend time with you doing their homework or other crafts, while you are cooking and keeping them company. A great idea for large areas, this concept gives the kitchen an elongated appearance.
- The island can also double up as a dining table if it is wide and long enough. This eliminates the need for a separate dining table, and allows you to integrate a living space without much effort.
Once again, remember to follow the aforementioned tips when installing kitchen islands, because no matter how beautiful they may appear on its own, they will not serve any purpose if those measures are not adhered to.