Kitchen islands are an easy way to facilitate social gatherings in your kitchen. You can easily prepare and enjoy food in a relaxed, informal way. Because it is the focal point of your kitchen, planning for your island should be less casual. You should consider what the island is adding: storage space, extra seating, and new materials and colors. You also need to consider your kitchen’s efficiency and space in addition to details like lighting, counter height, and seating options that are often overlooked.
The Work Triangle
Your kitchen design should have an efficient flow to allow you to easily move between the sink, fridge, and stovetop, known as the work triangle. When adding the island or peninsula, you have to figure out how it will be part of your work triangle. Will it add to it or break it up?
A good rule of thumb is to allow a minimum of three feet of space between your countertops and the island, but this is dependent on your specific kitchen layout and how you use it. For example, the space required for your refrigerator or oven to open or frequently having multiple cooks in your kitchen will change the minimum recommended dimensions in areas. Your kitchen will function best if you leave space for a person to pass through walkways even while the fridge or oven doors are open.
In addition to efficiency, another goal of the kitchen island is to create a more social atmosphere. The design becomes pointless if you account for the actual size but forget to factor in the walkway space. Major routes to the kitchen can become congested, so you need to consider countertop overhangs, seating, and passthrough space.
Lighting can also help center the gathering space. Your lighting should match the aesthetics of your island while being practical. Making sure your choice is dimmable will help draw attention to your island’s countertops while switching the mood from cooking to dining.
If you have lighting to show off your countertops, you need the perfect materials. The island will become the centerpiece of your kitchen, so it should shine and be bold.
Marble countertops are a beautiful choice for a timeless look. But, they are very porous for a food prep area if you are not a tidy chef.
Quartz or granite countertops are low maintenance, durable, and come in larger slabs for a smooth finish. If a joint is necessary, adding a chopping block into the island can be functional while subtly disguise the joint.
Because there are so many colors and patterns to choose from, matching your natural stone countertops to your kitchen cabinets should be a breeze. Kitchen color schemes are often neutral, so adding an island can allow you to incorporate a striking key color to add some excitement to your space.
Since island cabinets are typically below the line of sight, you can create a contrast with a dark cabinet color and a neutral stone countertop, which can help the new addition feel anchored in the kitchen design.
If you are working with a smaller kitchen area, stools might be your best option because they are easier to maneuver around, take up less space, and sit more snugly against your island. You can also sit down on them from any direction because they do not have a back like a chair. Their biggest drawback is that they are not as comfortable to sit on for long periods of time as a chair. They may also be too utilitarian for the aesthetic you are envisioning.
Chairs typically make for a more enjoyable dining experience because they are more comfortable. Be cautious, as they can add bulk to your kitchen design and clog narrow walkways. They can also block the visual effect of your island since the backs can be higher than the countertop. If you are looking for a good conversation atmosphere for lingering over meals, however, chairs may be ideal.
Whether you choose chairs or stools, you should consider the material and height. Luckily, both chairs and stools come in various materials to match your island: leather, metal, wood, or a combination. You can decide if your island will be standard height at 36 inches or a breakfast bar around 42 inches. For standard seating, you would want to choose seating between 24 and 26 inches and 28 to 30 inches for bar seats.
Details aside, your kitchen island should prioritize your needs and make your home more enjoyable. If you want a more casual dining experience, the overhang and seating choice should be your focus. If a designer kitchen is your goal, marble countertops that extend to the floor may be a perfect choice. Consider these factors to design the best island for you.