Kitchens have become the heart of modern-day homes. The days of mysterious cooking enclaves hidden from view are long gone. In their place, an era of open, dynamic social hubs is being ushered in. Now, the kitchen is evolving into a communal center — the primary destination for gathering and entertaining. No other single component is more impactful to the function of this space than the kitchen island. Its purpose and role within your overall kitchen design should cater to both those doing the cooking as well as the array of guests that it will host simultaneously. We’ve profiled a collection of islands suitable for nearly any kitchen and sensibility — which one could you envision in your new home?
1. The Center Sink
In the typical collection of kitchen fixtures, the sink is the most frequently employed. It fills, soaks, rinses and drains at all phases of preparation, serving and cleanup. Therefore, of the places you’ll be stationary in the kitchen, this is where you’ll linger the longest. By orienting it front and center, and facing an adjacent space, you’ll be able to stay engaged while being productive.
2. The Table Extension
This island is for homeowners seeking an informal dining space that is integral to the kitchen but separate from the flurry of activity associated with meal preparation. As opposed to the more conventional bar arrangement, this configuration allows you and your guests to face one another while eating together. The lower height of the extension is more suitable to standard-sized dining chairs and provides a subtle distinction from the prep surface.
3. The Bar
A secondary sink at the island establishes an ideal entertainment and serving space within the kitchen. It eliminates competition at the primary sink, which can be located along the outside wall and used exclusively for prep work. Equipped with a small overhang, deep counter space and a beverage refrigerator tucked in below, this island is ideal for hosting guests.
4. The Storage Hub
The large, square shape of this island suggests its primary function: storage. Stacked back-to-back below the countertop, two full-depth base cabinets can house an assortment of appliances and tools. The variety of drawers means you can distribute utensils and necessities closest to where they’re used, which makes a large space like this one all the more functional.
5. The Work Table
Sometimes the most effective island is not actually an island. When space comes at a premium, perhaps in a townhome or condo, there may not be adequate dimension in your kitchen to host a conventional island. In lieu of this, a table could provide just enough prep surface to supplement limited counter space in the rest of the kitchen. You can achieve extra versatility by opting for a mobile cart with wheels that can be employed only when needed — freeing up floor space for circulation when stowed away.
6. The Cook Top
As a general design principle, placing a cook surface on the island is often avoided. It presents some logical concerns about the impact of smoke, odors and splashes in close proximity to a seating space. Sometimes though, the opportunity to pull the cook top off the wall to allow for more windows is an enticing tradeoff. This design offers an efficient work triangle within a compact footprint, all while being flooded in natural light. The range hood is also integrated well with the cabinetry, avoiding the common result of a distracting eyesore in the middle of the kitchen.
7. The All-in-One
This island offers everything: a preparation surface, central sink, display shelves, eat-in capabilities and ample storage. Its location at the center of an open floor plan makes it the true focal point of the home.
Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at www.wcralston.com.