Over the past 20 years, the kitchen has started to become more than a place to simply prepare meals. The kitchen today is seen as the heart of the home, the place where the family gathers and bonds. What’s central to most new kitchens is the kitchen island. This design element has emerged in great popularity over the years and is the central place where families congregate. Although there is no set formula on how to design an island, here are a few guidelines to help you plan yours.
1) Understanding your islands main function is key. Most islands serve two functions, a place to cook and prepare meals and a side that is devoted to eating. Others also use the island to do their homework, conduct house projects, entertain etc.
2) Your kitchen island may also be a place where you choose to place certain appliances. If this is the case, you will need to determine what appliance will be housed in the island. This will effect the overall design of the island in terms of placement. For instance, if the main sink were placed there, you may want the dishwasher to also be housed in the island, to make loading easier. If the island is going to serve as the main space where food prepping will take place, you will want to consider having trash and compost close as well. If your main cook top is to be placed in the island, you will have to rethink lighting and settle on the type of vent you will need.
3) The island can be a great place to hold additional storage. Generally, you can fit (2) 24 inch base cabinets. You can also get creative with your storage and have spaces and nooks that serve a specific function such as a spice rack for example. As for sizing of the island, you can go with a width of 2-3 feet. If you are wanting to accommodate appliances, then I would suggest going with a width of at least 7 ft.
4) Your counter height is determined by your seating height. If you want to place seating at your island you will need to determine at what height you would like the stools – 36 inches (counter height) or 42 inches high (bar height). If you choose to go with bar height, your island will have two levels to it. One for entertaining and another level at 36 inches to serve as a work surface. As for the seating overhang, you can leave a minimum of 12 inches but should opt for an overhang between 15-18 inches for greater comfort.
5) Placement of your kitchen island within your kitchen requires you to consider all aspects of how it will be used. Does the island hinder the work triangle of a cook top, sink and refrigerator? Is there enough space for seating, that allows at least 3 feet between the island and the wall or counter? Typically, you will want to have 36 inches of open space on the ends of the islands. The working sides of the island should have a minimum amount of 42 inches of open space.