There are few places in the home as important as the kitchen. Of all the rooms in the house, it is the kitchen that sees the most activity. It’s where the day starts and ends, and it is a room that must, therefore, be carefully designed so that your time spent here is comfortable and practical.
When designing a kitchen, each person in the home will have their own idea of their dream kitchen, but one of the absolute essentials in contemporary kitchen design is a kitchen island. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the kitchen island is the heart of the kitchen. When it comes to bespoke kitchens, you will see that the majority of kitchen showrooms around the country revolve around the concept of the kitchen island. Customising your bespoke kitchen island, however, is another matter entirely. Here, we take you through how to build around this fantastic centrepiece and use it to its full potential so that your time in the kitchen is both constructive and enjoyable.
Your Kitchen Island’s Purpose
The first thing to consider is the purpose of your kitchen island. Kitchen islands can open up a whole new world and they have so much to offer, but you need to think about how yours will function in your bespoke kitchen.
A vital concept in kitchen design is the “Kitchen Triangle”. The three points of this triangle are the oven, refrigerator and sink, a combination that ensures a layout that is efficient and comfortable for those using the kitchen. It might be that one of these points is located on your kitchen island, or it might be that your kitchen island is not part of this layout but instead functions as an extra surface for chopping and preparing or as a seating area.
You need to think about its usage and how frequent this will be. Will it be used just for cooking and preparing food? Or will it also function as a seating area for breakfast and snacks? It could even be big enough for use as a social space when hosting dinners. Depending on your needs, a kitchen island can be easily customised to be the most practical part of your kitchen.
The Size, Shape and Surface of Your Kitchen Island
Once you know the purpose of your kitchen island and how it will function in your kitchen, it’s time to think about the size, shape and surface of your bespoke kitchen island.
You don’t want a kitchen island to be closer than four feet from your other work surfaces, whatever purpose it is serving. If it is acting as a place for dining as well as preparing, and your kitchen allows it, you might want to think about having more space than this.
Islands tend to be a minimum of 36 inches tall. However, the length and shape of your island are entirely up to you, the shape and size of your kitchen and how you envisage your kitchen island. Large square islands in smaller kitchens do not allow much room to walk around, and when it comes to cabinets or drawers, you must consider the amount of room needed to open and access these storage spaces.
When it comes to the surface, again, the function of your kitchen island is paramount, but there is a larger variety of kitchen island options on offer than you may think. Wooden islands with wheels offer manoeuvrability and versatility, while stationary stone islands can offer that extra space for morning meals or doing homework without you needing to worry about maintenance and durability.
You might decide that an adjustable top is what your kitchen island needs. A drop-leaf top with a butcher’s block creates both a storage space and preparation area in your kitchen.
Optimising the Spaces within and Surrounding Your Kitchen Island
The biggest advantage of having a kitchen island is that it is slap bang in the middle of the space and is super accessible. Given that it is going to be quite a large part of your kitchen, make the most of what is underneath the countertop.
Extra cupboards, drawers and shelves are popular choices in bespoke kitchen design, but if your kitchen already accommodates for these things, you have a plethora of other options that you can just as easily factor into your fitted kitchen island. Open shelving makes a wonderful space to store cooking books that are within arms reach, while they also look tidy and decorative. Another idea is a wine rack — which, again, is decorative as well as functional and not difficult to install.
You can also think about what sits above your kitchen island. The overhead space, depending on your aesthetic preferences, can be fitted with a hanging rack. Pots and pans hang from above your island, meaning that you no longer need to bend down and rummage through the back of your cupboards. An alternative option is overhead lighting, which could be a fantastic design choice if you choose to frequently use this spot for work or homework.
Stephen Flower is Managing Director at Ashford Kitchens & Interiors, a quality provider of bespoke luxury kitchens, bedrooms and home offices in and around Middlesex, United Kingdom, since 1984.