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What Is a Kitchen Island? and Why You Need One – a Designers Guide

What Is a Kitchen Island? and Why You Need One – a Designers Guide.

Kitchen islands have become a real icon of the modern kitchen. It’s almost a modern equivalent of a home hearth burning cozily. Perfect for the whole family to gather around to relax, cook, entertain and enjoy each other’s company.

For many of our clients, no contemporary kitchen is complete without one. However, you may be wondering exactly what a kitchen island can be used for and how it might be beneficial in your home?.

In this article, we will explore the 21st Century phenomenon which is the kitchen island. We’ll take a brief look at its origins, the main reasons you really need a kitchen island for your contemporary living requirements, some of its key functions and more! so let’s take a look below and find out what a kitchen island actually is – starting with the quick take away answer!

What is a kitchen island? A kitchen island is a freestanding cabinet which can either match your existing kitchen design or compliment it. A kitchen island can have kitchen stools around it, for extra seating and include integral storage drawers or cabinets and can be used to house your cooking appliances.

But what about a Kitchen island for you!?

Well, now we’ve taken you through the short answer on what a kitchen island is, let’s take a quick look at where the concept of a kitchen island began.

How Did Kitchen Islands Evolve?

Originally a kitchen islands began their life as an integral part of family life in the form of wooden farm tables. These early islands gave cooks the extra space required for preparing food and also became relaxed and informal dining areas.

Today’s kitchen islands have developed into being a more integral part of your overall kitchen design, and it’s almost a must – as we’ll explain shortly. They can be created using the same materials as their chosen base cabinets and countertop or can follow the trend for a ‘mismatched’ look.

When following the freestanding look, In a more relaxed design, the upper cabinets, base cabinets, and countertop materials can be made in a mix of materials and color.

Why Do I Need a Kitchen Island?

Let’s take a look below at three reasons why a kitchen island is a must-have.

  1. Kitchen islands can be accessed from all sides, maximizing your space and give more in terms of usage and functionality than merely traditional countertops against your walls.
  2. They become a real focal point of your kitchen, as they can have a look and feel of the furniture. For instance by adding seating such as kitchen stools to create a bespoke seating area for you, your guests and your family.
  3. Having a kitchen island helps you and your family to enjoy modern living in more open-plan spaces, for instance, they can accommodate multiple cooks, party guests, children doing their homework whilst you cook and even used as your home office.
  4. A kitchen island beautifully combines function and style

Now that we’ve looked at some great reasons why you should include a kitchen island into your kitchen design, let’s take a closer look now at the possibilities you can explore within the functionality of your kitchen island space.

Don’t forget to get in touch with our fabulous team of designers who can discuss with you any ideas and plans you have if you’re considering investing in a kitchen island.

Some Key Functions of Kitchen Islands

You need your kitchen island to really work for you if you want it to earn its keep and space it is occupying.

Let’s look below at some important considerations when thinking about the addition of a kitchen island and how our team of dedicated kitchen designers will help you to create a perfect kitchen island which will work perfectly for you and your family.

A Cleaning Center

If you’re considering using your island as a cleaning center as one it’s main functions, then the below points are important considerations:

  • To make sure of seamless use, the compost and any pull-out garbage bins should be next to the sink.
  • The dishwasher door needs to have enough room to be in the open position.
  • There should be adequate storage for dish towels, dish soap, and other cleaning items
  • There will need to be easy access to silverware storage and kitchenware such as plates, bowls, etc.
  • A nifty trick to make sure you can hide your dirty dishes from view is to use counters of dual height.

Food Preparation Area

Using your kitchen island as a food preparation area requires a little more thought into the planning and design, so let’s look below at some of the most important areas to consider.

  • Easy access required to a disposer or compost bin
  • There will need to be outlets for any small kitchen appliances
  • A useful addition when using your kitchen island as a food prep area is to add a prep sink and a butcher’s block
  • Refrigerator and any cooktop will need to be near to each other

Cooking Area

If you are looking to use a kitchen island as a cooking area, let’s look at 4 top tips to make sure you have everything you need.

  • As you will be using hot pans, it’s important to have a heat resistant countertop made of either tile, metal or stone.
  • It is essential to consider a seating area that is raised to make sure your family and guests aren’t in direct range of cooking spatters.
  • A downdraft fan or overhead vent hood, along with a second exhaust fan in the ceiling is an important consideration if you plan on using an area of your kitchen island for food prep
  • It’s important that there are at least 18 inches of space on either side of the range or stovetop

Now we’ve looked at 3 great uses for your brand new beautifully crafted kitchen island, let’s see what space you need in order to enjoy your kitchen island to its maximum potential.

What Space Do I Need for a Kitchen Island?

Most people tend to clean surfaces in a circular motion, but what you don’t realize is that you are just moving the dirt around in the same location or moving it to another location. That means you are leaving behind dirt and not getting everything. You will also be more likely to miss areas with this approach. 

Many people wonder what sized kitchen they need to have in order to have a beautiful, perfectly functioning kitchen island. The minimum space you need is a kitchen at least 10 feet wide and 12 feet long.

You may also now be wondering if there is a minimum size for a kitchen island, so let’s find out.

At its minimum, a kitchen island should be around 4 feet x 2 feet and also allow room for people to work, sit and walk around comfortably.

Now that we understand the size of the kitchen required to successfully use a kitchen island, you might also be wondering how the underneath storage works on a kitchen island if you have decided to utilize larger kitchen appliances such as ovens and sinks. Let’s take a look at how that works.

Storage Under the Oven or Sink

There’s quite limited under storage space on islands where you would like to also incorporate an appliance such as a sink or oven. Similarly, if you’d like to use a cooktop with a downdraft fan, it’s important to remember that the machinery required for those appliances will be housed in the cabinets below the appliance and may also involve more underfloor work too.

 Utilising the end of the island is a neat solution to this challenge. If you have a round end to your island, it’s perfect for adding a Lazy Susan.

The ends of your quality built kitchen island is perfect to accommodate open shelving for storing your pretty things and cookbooks.

It is even possible to add a shallow cabinet at the end of your unit, so do make sure you speak to one of our expert kitchen designers to discuss any thoughts or requirements – with our experience we can bring lots of great ideas into play to make your kitchen just perfect!

So Finally…

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article discovering some of the really fabulous ways a kitchen island can be an excellent, stylish and functional addition to your kitchen.

If you’d like to discuss any topics in this article in more depth or would like to arrange to speak to one of our talented designers for any of your kitchen design needs, get in touch and one of our friendly team will be able to help. Let us help you create the kitchen of your dreams – with the perfect island right where it needs to be!