Providing clients an average of two or three consultations per day, I end up talking about the island at least once in the run of a day.
Please let’s start by clarifying that an island is free standing, not attached to any walls or the cabinets on the perimeter of the kitchen. Many people get islands and peninsulas confused as the only difference between the two is peninsulas are attached to a wall.
Generally speaking, forcing an island where it just does not fit could be an expensive mistake because it could make your kitchen look awkward or small, affecting the value of house. It is always recommended to have a minimum of 36″ of space around the island so two people can pass through the same space without banging into each other…never a good idea to be in a cramped space where hot food is being carried!
AN ISLAND WITH OR WITHOUT SEATING
One of the most popular discussions I have with clients is the one that sees me fighting to avoid the “double table effect”: an island with stools right beside the kitchen table. When the room is big and the kitchen table is far from the island (I recommend a minimum of five feet apart), having stools around it can be a practical and stylish feature. However, feedback from clients confirms that when the island seats the entire family, the kitchen table becomes just a piece of furniture (figuratively and literally speaking) or even worse…the place where everyone drops their stuff at the end of the day. For those reasons, when the space is limited, it is better to eliminate the kitchen table and make the island your “table” as it already will serve as storage space, working area and if done properly, the focal point of the kitchen.
So what to do if the kitchen is not large enough to accommodate seating around the island and removing the table is not an option? Go for a kitchen island without seating so you can still enjoy all of the other benefits of added storage and a larger work space.
SHOULD THE KITCHEN ISLAND HAVE A SINK AND/OR DISHWASHER AND/OR COOKTOP?
I personally would not want to see myself cooking in the middle of the room with an insufficient ventilation system. Trying to communicate with family members or guests over top of steam, splatters, and smells from cooking and not to leave out the most important part of all…having your children sitting around the island with hot burners are all reasons why I would avoid having a cooktop in the island whenever possible.
There is no argument that having a sink or dishwasher on a large island in the center of the room would be a nice touch and also a very practical move. But again we arrive at the argument of would you want all of the steam and heat from the sink or dishwasher in the place where you and your family and guests will spend most of their time gathering in the kitchen?
The smartest and safest thing to do would be to not make any commitment to plumbing, gas, or electrical when it comes to the island. This means no screws into your floor and it will give you the option of moving the island according to your needs that could change in the future. Flexibility is a great feature for a kitchen island.
But above all, when working on these decisions with your designer, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the process! 😉