We are honoring National Kitchen and Bath Month in October by celebrating kitchen islands. Just a few decades ago, most kitchens did not have islands and had much less countertop space. This was a problem because home cooks needed more room to prep fresh veggies, roll out cookie dough, store dishes/pantry items, and house kitchen appliances.
What Is the Purpose of a Kitchen Island?
After World War 2, the open concept became popular for new homes. Previously, the kitchen was completely separate from the rest of the house and it was very difficult to monitor young children from another room or talk with anyone else in the house.
The wide-open space brought a lot of advantages, but there were fewer walls for cabinets, storage, and countertops. So the kitchen island became a handy solution.
Storage and Countertop Space
Kitchen islands provide a great deal more storage space than many kitchens would have otherwise. They also provide a lot more counter space for preparing food, cleaning up dirty dishes, and holding coffee makers, blenders, and other devices.
The extra space allows for more cooks in the kitchen. It’s much easier for two adults to cook together when there is more counter space. And it’s a great environment for parents to teach children to cook, as well.
The Hub of the Home
The island of the kitchen is the center of activity in the home. It’s where kids often do their homework while a parent can easily supervise. With enough kitchen island outlets and charging stations, the island may double as a mini office for one of the adults in the home. And it’s the congregating place for loved ones to sit and talk while one or two take care of the cooking or dishes.
The Eating/Snacking Headquarters
In many homes, the kitchen island has replaced the eat-in kitchen. Family members often eat breakfast or snacks at the island on a counter at a stool. Or some islands include built-in tables at table-height.
A Visual Boundary Line
The island marks a boundary line between the kitchen and living space without being a full wall. So those who are in the kitchen can watch a movie with the rest of the family or keep an eye on younger children. It’s also a fantastic place for architectural details and interesting accents.
A Place for Family Connection
The most wonderful feature of the kitchen island is that whoever is at the sink or cooktop at the island doesn’t have to feel left out of the family’s discussions. They are no longer facing the wall or a window, but out into the rest of the home.
Types of Kitchen Island Layouts
When choosing your island—kitchen layout is important to consider. If you have a large space, you can have any shaped island you’d like. Curved, L-shaped, U-shaped, straight line, large square, or a T-shaped kitchen island. Or create a unique triangle kitchen island, a two-tier kitchen island, or even double kitchen islands.
But if you have a narrow kitchen or an L-shaped kitchen with an island, your options will be more limited because your kitchen island size will have to be smaller to accommodate your small space.
Some kitchens are designed to be so narrow, a kitchen island won’t fit at all. So as you design your dream kitchen, be sure to include enough room for your kitchen island plans. One option for smaller kitchens is to choose an extendable kitchen island that has leaves that can be folded away when not in use or propped up to become extra counter space when needed.
Something that is becoming increasingly popular is a kitchen with two islands (like in the picture at the top of this post). This is especially helpful if you have multiple people cooking together. You can have one person doing prep work at the prep island with the rinsing sink station. And the other person can be at the island with the cooktop.
Custom kitchen islands allow you to create any shape you’d like, any style you’d like, and personalized shelves, display cabinets, pet feeding stations, and work stations.
Kitchen Island Base Cabinet Options
The kitchen island base is the foundation of your island. Your options are practically limitless. Choose base cabinets that match your other kitchen cabinets. Or create something that looks totally different from the rest of the kitchen but that adds harmony.
Many people like to make the kitchen island base look more like a piece of furniture with legs and have it painted a different color from the rest of the room to help it stand out as the focal point of the kitchen. For example, you might want a white kitchen and blue island for contrast and interest. When the kitchen island is a different color, it looks more modern, unique, and draws attention to the island as your focal point.
You can use regular kitchen base cabinets or have custom cabinets built. Choose from shaker cabinets, glass-paneled cabinets, floating shelves/open shelving, sleek modern cabinets, farmhouse cabinets, or whatever you like.
Some options for finishing the kitchen island base include:
- Beadboard kitchen island
- Shiplap kitchen island
- Reclaimed wood kitchen island
- Barnwood kitchen island
- Stone kitchen island
- Painted wood with heavy custom molding
Styles of Kitchen Islands
With a custom kitchen island, you can choose any style you prefer. One of the most popular styles today is a waterfall kitchen island where the stone countertops seem to spill over down the sides of the island.
If you would like a kitchen island with table extension, consider a foldable butcher block section that can fold down or be propped up with moveable support.
Design your kitchen island with legs if you want to be able to have a bar stool that slides underneath and you would like to have people sit at the island, itself. Or create a kitchen island overhang to allow for tall stools to provide an eating space along one, two, or even three sides of your island.
Eat-in Kitchen Islands
Because kitchen islands are the congregating point for the home, having a place to eat built into the island makes a lot of sense. If you have a bar-style counter, you can serve informal meals there with a dining table in a dining room. If you want something more formal for the island, you could have an attached table-style eating booth or area as part of a multi-level island.
Kitchen Island Appliance Options
Your kitchen has to have a refrigerator, stove, oven, and sink. When you design your custom kitchen, you can decide which appliances and stations you would like to include on the island and which ones you want to be along the wall of the kitchen.
If you love to do a lot of cooking and want to talk with family, friends, and guests while you cook, having a kitchen island with a cooktop facing a counter with bar stools or chairs would be ideal. Or you may decide to have the prep area and sink on the island with the cooktop along the wall so that the range hood can be on the wall instead of in the middle of the kitchen ceiling.
Workstation and appliance options for your island include
- Cooktop/oven/dual ovens
- Microwave drawer/built-in microwave under-the-counter
- Wood stove
- Warming drawer
- Baking oven drawer
- Full sink (or two)
- Dishwasher (or two dishwashers)
- Rinsing sink
- Refrigerator drawer
- Under-the-counter refrigerator
- Quick freeze refrigerator drawers
- Wine cooler
- Drink cooler
If you have many children in your home or multiple generations, having two full kitchen sinks at a large kitchen island and two dishwashers can make life a lot easier.
Kitchen Island Lighting
One of the best parts of the island is the kitchen island lighting options you have. Most people choose pendant lighting because they illuminate the specific workspaces well and can be very colorful and decorative. But you may also want LED panel lights, recessed lights, or LED dome lighting to give general lighting to the area
Another light fixture option is to use a chandelier or multiple chandeliers over your island. And if you have a range hood, choose one with LED lighting for light to work by or for special lighting effects.
Ready to build your dream custom kitchen island in the Lexington, SC area?
At Blythe Building Company, we build luxury homes in the Greater Columbia, SC area. We’d love to help you build your dream home!
Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
We build in areas like:
Lexington, Irmo, Ballentine, Chapin, Columbia, Blythewood, West Columbia, Forest Acres, Pine Ridge, the Lake Murray area, and more.
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