In open-concept floorplans, the kitchen island is critical. It delineates the areas of the room and adds some much-needed workspace. But just because it sounds like a necessity, it doesn’t work in every kitchen. Whether or not you have an open kitchen space, keep reading for things to consider before installing a kitchen island.
They don’t work in every kitchen
Surprisingly, kitchen islands simply don’t work in every kitchen. Depending on the size and shape, you might be best served with a rolling cart to add counter space while cooking. Some homeowners want to add an island because they think it will increase their home value, but that’s only true if it works.
If you’re thinking of installing one, test it out with a counter-height table or rolling cart before investing!
Remember the kitchen triangle
The kitchen triangle is essential for ease of use in the kitchen. A designer lays out the kitchen with a set distance between the refrigerator, stove/oven, and the sink in order for the cook to move efficiently in the space. Typically, you want each element to be no more than 9 feet apart and no less than 4 feet.
If the distance is too close:
If the distance between the three points is too close, you would have doors opening into each other or not enough space to prepare food. Sometimes this happens when your kitchen is a little too small for an island. You might find that the distances are correct, but the island impedes your route between the oven and the sink, making it less efficient.
Typically, you’ll use the refrigerator the least while cooking (or you can pull all your ingredients out at the start). If you need to increase one side of the triangle, you can put the refrigerator further away.
Using an island for efficiency
In large kitchens, the triangle becomes spread out, and an island with a sink is the best use of space. Make sure where you place the island sink is within the triangle for the stove and the refrigerator, so you can easily turn from the stovetop to the sink when necessary.
Although it was common a few years ago, placing a stovetop on the island is not typically the best placement. Because the island is more of a common space, the flame or heat from the stovetop might become a safety hazard, especially if you have bar seating on the island. Homeowners also need to consider placing a hood over the island and running gas lines if the stove is in the island. However, some home chefs like to face their guests while they’re cooking, and this arrangement makes that happen.
Flat or Two-Tiered Islands
When you’re designing a kitchen island, you’ll have to choose between flat or two-tiered space. Both have pros and cons that you need to consider according to your personal space and preferences.
Flat: A flat kitchen island offers a large workspace for baking and decorating cookies, serving a buffet-style meal, and cleans easily.
Two-tiered: The tiered island breaks up the space and allows for another element of contrast. It also keeps an open-concept area neater by hiding the clutter of a workstation.
Other Design Elements
Once you’ve decided you need a kitchen island, you get to make all the fun design options!
Islands add impact to a space with contrasting colors and countertops. In an all-white kitchen, homeowners will paint the base of the island a dark color like navy to keep it from blending in. At Garden State Soapstone, Slate, and Wood, we often see a contrasting countertop on the island from the rest of the space. Sometimes the island is a dark soapstone with marble for the perimeter counters or reversed with marble on the island. We also install tiered islands with soapstone on the workstation level and wood on the bar portion.
Kitchen island seating can be a great way to include your guests in the cooking process and have conversations while working. For the guests, side-by-side seating does not work as well for a group conversation as a dining table, so don’t let the island be your only seating option.
Bar stools also give you another way to add some creativity to your kitchen with textures, fabrics, and metallic elements.
Don’t add clutter
One challenge with a kitchen island is just keeping it clean! It becomes the drop zone for mail, books, shopping, and everything else, not to mention those appliances you can’t fit in the cabinets. Keep your kitchen beautiful by planning organization before you build an island.