But while a well-planned layout offers much enjoyment, a poorly planned island can be frustrating. This is particularly true if there is insufficient space for an island to begin with. If you’re considering a kitchen island, follow these tips to help you decide whether you have enough space to make an island work for you. And if you don’t, discover what else you can try.
Float away. To create the illusion of space, it’s a good idea to keep furniture off the floor. The countertop here is extended from the kitchen cabinets to form a floating peninsula breakfast bar. The lack of base cabinets gives the room a feeling of flow. The designers also have thought carefully about the bar stools, choosing white tops to “melt” into the surface and wooden legs to blend into the floor.
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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.
Add appliances. Incorporating sinks or stovetops into the surface of the island is one way to spread the workflow throughout the kitchen. Installation can be tricky, so pay attention to details like ventilation and plumbing. This will require running downward (most common in islands) or overhead venting (which can be expensive), and allocating extra space to in-cabinet pipes.
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.