In a kitchen build or remodel, whether you’re a homeowner or designer, I believe everyone gets to the point where they start thinking about an island. Do I want one? Does it work in my space? Does it match my design or format? If so, where do I put it, and how big do I make it? Or, if I have one, do I still want it? You may or may not ask yourself these questions. But either way, we’re going to talk about kitchen islands in this blog.
Beautiful Paonazzo marble kitchen with a large island.
Why Have an Island?
There are many reasons why you should have an island.
First of all, the island is a focal point in your kitchen, and it fills in the empty space.
Imagine for a moment what the picture above would look like without an island. Yes, it may be nice as a wide-open area, but it would be empty and purposeless.
Putting an island adds a sense of good organization and arrangement. And with a interestingly veined stone on the island, it provides a highly conspicuous center element.
An island can also be used as a workspace for meal preparation, crafts and artistic expression, and many other comparable things. It’s at the limit of your imagination.
If you’re seasoned chef cooking up an epicurean creation or a mother preparing a meal for your children, I’m sure you know it can be frustrating when you have a lack of workspace. An island can easily solve such a predicament.
You can also choose whether or not you want a sink in your island. Sinks can assist greatly in preparation and cleanup. But like in the first image, you may want extra space that the sink will take up.
Mother and daughter kneading dough on a quartz island.
With large counter space at your disposal, it’s easy to stay organized and let go of the stress of chaos and disorganization. For instance, making school lunches in the morning can be hectic. But with a large space to prepare, it can be far less of a worry.
Everyone has guests at times that they need to serve a meal to. As it was said before, islands increase workspace and organization. Of course, this includes an increase of area to lay out and serve.
Once a meal or project is over, it can be rather chaotic to have to deal with mess that has spread everywhere. But with an island, you can keep the mess contained, providing a much simpler cleanup.
Very large granite island with quartz perimeter countertops.
Island Position and Size
The answers to the questions of how to place your island and what size to make it are up to how you perform and live day-to-day life in your kitchen.
In the example photo above, the main thing the owner uses in the kitchen is the island. Even some of the cabinets are part of the island. That’s where much of the seating and interaction is based.
It all depends on the layout of your kitchen and how much space you need.
Some people may prefer a very large island as a center point of the kitchen while others may prefer to use the other counters more and only use the island as an accessory. Or you may want a peninsula which is just a wider part of the counter that acts as a bar. The image below is an example of that.
Peninsula in a porcelain kitchen.
Island Design Ideas
The design of your island can greatly affect the character of your kitchen.
Many people choose to create a contrast of colors to enhance the character of their kitchen. This includes contrast with both cabinets and countertops.
For instance, some people choose to put in black perimeter countertops and contrast with a white island. The kitchen below is a great example of this contrast. This differentiation increases the effect of the island as a focal point.
In this image two different cabinet styles are being used. The perimeter has simple, white cupboards, and the island cabinets draw attention to its beautiful finish and intricate designs.
Black granite perimeter countertops with a white ogee island.
Complexity and Material Distinction
In some cases, using too much design and lacking simplicity can cause a cluttered or overwhelming look. This is considering both the cabinets and the countertops.
Sometimes people decide to use a complex stone on their island to draw attention to it. And they use simple, soothing colors on the perimeter. The image below is a good example of this. Notice how most of the action is in the island while simple, warm colors from the counters and backsplash are used on the perimeter.
As you’ve probably noticed already, this complexity and contrast difference is done by the inclusion of two different kinds of material. In the picture below, the island is granite, and the surrounding counters are made with a simple, white quartz. A few images above are also good examples of this.
Granite island surrounded by simple, warm counter and backsplash colors.
Alternatives to Islands
Now what happens if you don’t want an island or if your small kitchen space won’t allow it?
There are actually a number of options to maximize space besides using an island.
This was mentioned before, but it is in fact a very effective way to maximize space without an island. It’s an easy way to serve, manage messes, and keep your children at a single area while snacking.
Peninsula example from the Mogastone Visualizer.
A pass-through window may or may not work for you depending on the way your cabinets are installed. But say you have an area that you can open up into the living room or dining room. That can be a very effective use of space as you can also use it as extra counter area.
A dining table is also an excellent center console. It’s a good place for the family to be together, whether it’s having a meal, doing homework, or having a game night.
A raised bar, like the one below, is another excellent way to increase your counter space. The uses and benefits of a raised bar are very similar to those of a peninsula. These bars are also fantastic for buffet-style serving.
The island is a big part of the kitchen as it adds to its design and usability. However, there are other alternatives to islands, such as raised bars, pass-through windows, and peninsulas. The design and functionality of your kitchen is up to your imagination.
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