Installing a kitchen island? You’re choosing one of the most sought-after kitchen layouts. Both practical and stylish, a kitchen island is multi-functional. It works as an integral part of your kitchen and can serve as a sink, storage area and dining table too. You can use it as a space to entertain guests, as a bar at dinner parties, an extra place to work, and, depending on how much room you have, as somewhere for the kids to spread out their school projects while you prepare dinner.
Kitchen islands come in a variety of designs, shapes and colours so you can match it to your décor.
However, as with every refurbishment, you need to ensure you choose the right configuration for your space and lifestyle. We’ve put together this guide to help you plan your perfect kitchen island.
What shape is your kitchen?
Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes and yours will determine where and how your kitchen island will fit.
There are as many types of kitchen islands as kitchens themselves and you’re bound to find one that works for the space you have. A rectangular island can work brilliantly, as can L-shaped and you can always find round islands, curved-edge islands, islands with open shelving or a breakfast bar, or even two islands facing each other, if you’ve got a bit of extra room.
Do you have the room?
Size is the most important consideration. A kitchen island can be large or small scale depending on how you plan to use it.
For practical, every day use, you’ll need an island between approximately 2.2m and 3m in length, and between 1m to 1.2m width. Any less and you won’t have enough of a work surface. You need to remember to give yourself enough space around the island too.
If you’re after a continuous piece of worktop without a join, you might have to reduce that kitchen island size again. Standard sizes for stone worktops are 3m x 1.35m. Any larger and you’ll need two pieces of worktop, which means a join. An alternative is to use a worktop like Corian. Though it will cost you a little more, Corian can be joined seamlessly. But instead of compromising on island size or worktop price, you could make a feature out of a join by mixing and matching different materials. Go for quartz or granite with a glass or wooden breakfast bar at one end. You’re only limited by your imagination!
Another option, if you’ve got lots of space, is to extend the island at the same height to give you extra seating. That way you can have one continuous piece of worktop in whatever material you choose, though you could break it up with contrasting colours to differentiate the different areas, or lower the height.
Sink or Hob?
Traditionally, an island is a platform for either a sink or a hob. Whichever option you choose, a kitchen island means you face into the room when cooking or washing up and works brilliantly for families who want to keep an eye on the kids or those who simply love entertaining.
A hob is the most popular choice for installation on a kitchen island. Sinks are less popular because it’s all too easy to leave the accessories that come with washing up lying around, which would spoil the clean look of the kitchen. Of course you could solve this problem by installing drawers underneath the sink, and this would give you extra storage space too.
What about extractor fans?
If you’ve chosen a hob on your kitchen island, but don’t fancy an extractor fan hanging from the ceiling, you’ve got a few options:
The most popular is a flush-mounted ceiling extractor, but as these extractors are deeper than the average ceiling, you’d need a builder to create a bulkhead exactly the same size as your island to house it. A second option is to have a pop-up downdraft extractor fan. These simply ‘pop up’ out of the worktop at the touch of a button, and disappear flush into the worktop when not in use.
What about appliances?
It’s entirely you’re choice whether you have a hob, sink or oven as part of your island, and whether you decide to have a microwave, blender or kettle sitting on top. What you do need to make sure is that you discuss your plans thoroughly with a builder in advance so they can ensure all the necessary plumbing and electrical work is prepared and in the right place. You’ll want enough pop-up sockets for appliances so you can make that all-important cup of tea!
Should I include seating?
If you have the space, seating around a kitchen island is wonderfully social and provides extra space for preparing food, dining and even working. You’re looking at a width of 50-60cm from the edge of a worktop to the back of a chair, and 30cm of knee space for an average sized adult. On an average 3m length kitchen island, this would give you between 4-6 seats.
Will a kitchen island work for my family?
Kitchen islands work brilliantly for families. If you’re preparing food you can keep an eye on the kids and it encourages sociability and interaction, so it’s great for catching up at the end of a school day. It can be a place for them to do their homework, while you prepare dinner, and it makes a great family breakfast bar too. If you’re adding a seating / dining area there’s always the option to lower the height for smaller children, or create a drop down table at one end to maximise space.
So when it comes to choosing a kitchen island there’s certainly a lot to consider, but with a little preparation and research, you can have the clever and functional island that suits your family and your home.