One-Side Seating. An island with seating on just one side is a common arrangement for a reason, and it can work well for some situations. However, if you’re looking to use the island as a frequent spot for family meals, it’s usually not ideal. Placing all seats on one side means everyone who is seated will be facing forward in a line, which doesn’t facilitate conversation.
Get more storage. In addition to creating more counter space, an island is also a way to add more storage and avoid kitchen clutter by using drawers, cupboards and shelves. This is beneficial especially if appliances take up a lot of cabinet room, or if you’re looking for a unique way to showcase certain items by using open shelving. Store dishes and pots within reach or keep less frequently used appliances out of the way. Another option is to use open shelving to display cookbooks or other items.
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Focal-point shelving. This kitchen features a variation on the end-of-island storage idea, with built-in shelves on either side of the tall chairs. Because this kitchen opens to a seating area, the shelves and the items displayed on them — here, pottery and a cake stand — offer a place for the eyes to rest rather than just the chair backs.
Use the space above. Take advantage of being able to use the space above the island by adding suspended storage, where you can display a matching pan collection or your best stemware. You can also experiment with lighting elements, or if you’ve decided to install a stovetop with overhead venting you can use the space for the range hood.
Butcher’s block and granite top. “Once you have an island, it is hard to go without,” Wanda Brown says. So after she moved into a home with a smaller kitchen than in her previous home, she fashioned a micro island using a small butcher’s block that she topped with a piece of granite. It gives her extra prep space close to the sink but, because of its compact size, doesn’t interfere with the flow of the kitchen.