To Have And Have Not: Kitchen Islands

Browsing through the editions of any home design magazine will give you a serious case of the Wants. You’ll want a gazebo, a water fountain, vaulted ceilings, French doors and more! But those things are ridiculous. Outlandish! What’s not over the top? A kitchen island! Or is it? The kitchen island – while perfect for some spaces – isn’t cut out for every kitchen. Yes, it’s a beautiful sanctuary of workspace, but it’s also quite problematic. Before you get your heart set on something that might not work for your home, consider these pros and cons.

Space! Glorious Space!

The main appeal of a kitchen island is the unadulterated amount of work space you have for prepping meals, sitting to enjoy your morning coffee and paper, or even having a meal in peaceful solitude. Some come with cooktops, some with sinks and garbage disposals. There’s also the extra storage space underneath that makes the island so desirable. And in some spaces, the island flourishes. But as much as they provide a ton of space, they also require a ton of space.

To make a kitchen island functional without ruining the flow of your work space, you need an allowance of at least 48” on each side. That’s four feet per side of the island. Depending on what space you have available, you’ll either have to go super small on the island, super small on the walkways, or knock down some walls and expand. As this particular room uses all the utilities, this could present a bit of a challenge/just isn’t doable.

Where Does It Work?

Kitchen islands are actually perfect for an open floor plan. You might even say they were made for it. In all seriousness, though, if you have or are transitioning to an open floor plan, the kitchen island is simply the way to go. You won’t be limited on either surface or walking space. A couple stools or chairs on one side provide the optimum place for guests to sit and converse with you while you cook. Best of all, it’s a structure that clearly defines the space without closing it off to the rest of the house.

So What About The Rest Of Us

For those that don’t have an open floor plan and can’t really take out any walls to accommodate an island no, you aren’t doomed to too small countertops for the rest of your life. Your contractor will have a solution that fits your space, your needs, and your budget. If you happen to have what feels like a lot of floor space, but not enough to make an island feasible, consider custom cabinetry that deepens the amount of storage space down below as well as the counter space you have for working up above. Since it will be a custom job you can have sliding or rotating shelves installed to make those objects stored in the back more reachable.

Another option is the peninsula. Extending the counters and cabinets out a few feet will provide more seating and work space without needing as much clearance as an island. In the end, your contractor will work with what you’ve got to provide the best solution to create your new, spacious kitchen.