I get this question from home owners all the time. In a larger kitchen, an island is always a plus, it can be the central hub for all sorts of family activities. Over the years the kitchen has become a social environment as much as a cooking space. In place of the small, closed-off food preparation zones of the past, today’s kitchens are open to other rooms, and sometimes the outdoors. Therefore, an island becomes a functional link in your home.
Is the size of the kitchen large enough to accommodate an island? Let’s look at the physical requirements. A general rule is to allow for 42” wide aisles between the edge of the island and an adjacent appliance or counter. If seating will be included, the space should be 54”. We would measure your existing space to see if the existing room is large enough to accommodate an island, and what space is left will determine the size of the island. This may require developing a new floor plan for the room, or removing a wall to accommodate the island and required circulation space. We would discuss with the home owner the practicality of which wall to remove, to which room do you want to connect.
I design using the “form follows function” rule. So, I then ask questions:
· How many people work in your kitchen at one time?
· What kind of food prep do you do on a daily basis?
· Do you entertain, if so, would guests see you doing prep, or helping with prep?
· Do you want a dining bar? How many seats?
· Will it do double duty, such as, homework space?
· How will it fit with your lifestyle?
· Height of the counter – prep height vs. seating height?
· Will it hold any appliances? Or prep sink?
· What will be stored in the cabinets? Roll out shelves vs. drawers?
· How will these functions flow in relationship to the other elements in the space?
Good flow is the ability to cook for 2, 4, 12 or more without having to walk more than a few steps in any one direction, no matter how large your kitchen is. When you think about making your kitchen a more pleasant place to work, consider these issues.
Not just a crucial prep and serving space, an island tends to be a focal point of a kitchen’s design. The materials used should be both durable and beautiful. And for most of us: low-maintenance. The options are quartz, granite, marble, stainless steel and wood. These are available in large slabs to eliminate seams. To help focus attention on the island, I often choose a mix of designs and materials, using contrasting colors on perimeter counters and the island top, for example. Or, selecting different cabinet materials can accentuate the island; a painted finish can add an exciting color. Traditional details can be added such as corner legs, or for a sleek contemporary look, wrap the island with one material to cover the end panels and top surfaces for a seamless look.
An island can take up a fair amount of kitchen space, so I like to make the most of every square inch. This may include incorporating cooktops, prep sinks, refrigerator drawers, wine coolers, microwaves or even a removable cutting board. I make a point to provide storage where ever I can. The base cabinets should function for the tasks for which the island will be used. Electrical outlets are a code requirement and an essential element too.
Lighting is an important part of the design of the island and the entire kitchen. The type of lighting will depend on the design style of the kitchen. Recessed down lights with LED lights will provide good task light and keep a clean, open look. A suspended light fixture or a grouping of pendants can provide the light needed and create a visual statement with a selection that compliments the room’s colors and materials.
An island can add function and beauty to your kitchen when it works well in relationship to the entire space. It is just one part of the kitchen to consider when you are planning a remodel.
Mary Broerman, CCIDC is a local resident and owner of MDB Design Group, a full-service interior design firm specializing in kitchen and bath remodeling. MDB Design Group is sensitive to each client’s unique architectural requirements and life style. This results in a joint vision between designer and client that reflects function, beauty and harmony. Mary Broerman, CCIDC is a California Certified Interior Design # 2124.
Visit us at our website www.mdbdesigngroup.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.