Two-Side Seating: Adjacent Sides. Adding seats to even just one adjacent side can go a long way to making your island a much more inviting spot to dine. By extending the island overhang to two sides instead of just one, you allow guests to sit facing each other.
Think about what kind of design (whether custom or prefabricated) is going to provide the most utility by asking the following questions: What will it be used for the most? What particular features will enhance the existing kitchen? What does the space need? If the room lacks cabinet space, you’ll want storage. If you don’t have a kitchen or dining room table (and even if you do), extra seating might be a priority.
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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.
Stow storage in the surface. This overhanging countertop is super clever. Not only does it create a seating space, but it contains three nifty drawers too. But it gets better — a simple partition creates storage for glasses above the built-in wine cooler.
I recently heard a story about a homeowner who had a major design regret. During a previous renovation, she elected to put all four counter stools on the same side of her kitchen island, a frequent spot for her family meals. This left her with a beautiful look but turned out to be an unfortunate mistake from a functional perspective. That’s because she now has to choose between having everyone in her family face in one direction like strangers in a diner and having to pull around a stool to sit on the wrong side of the island, with her knees bumping up against cabinets for the sake of family bonding.