Let’s talk about kitchen islands. The reality is, at the writing of this post (September 2017) we are seeing a trend which indicates 2/3 of our new customers are asking us about incorporating islands in their kitchen design.
The are a 2 key points which you should consider when thinking about an island for your kitchen:
- The size of your kitchen – will it allow for the planning of the island, and if so – what would be the perfect island size?
- The purpose for which you intend to use the island – will it be cooking, food preparation, dishwashing, dining, doing homework with your kids, or all of these tasks?
Once you have a good think about these two points we can elaborate further. Your room size is crucial to understanding whether an island can be planned into your kitchen (which means unfortunately most of London flats without an open space dining area will not be able to have an island), but if you’re lucky enough to have a new build flat or house – read on!
Theoretically speaking kitchen islands can be as long as you want them to be (room size permitting!), but we recommend a maximum of 1.5 meters in width. Keep in mind that if your island is going to be more than 3.3 meters in length and 1.6 meters in width you will have joints in your worktop as this is the maximum size of a jumbo stone slab. Have a discussion with your kitchen designer about how you envisage using your kitchen and where all the appliances will be located as you will need at least a 90cm of walking space all around the island, usually no more than 110cm is needed. Imagine the scenario – you have a straight run with a sink and built in dishwasher, there is an island adjacent to this run. When you are loading the dishes into the dishwasher the door of the dishwasher will be open, in order to make sure that another family member/friend can walk past comfortably and safely you need to ensure that the dimensions mentioned above are adhered to.
A lot of people wish to place hobs into the islands, in this case remember that depending on the size of the hob you will need to ensure that you will plan at least 30 cm on each side. For example if you wanted a hob which is 60 cm you would need 30 cm on the right side and 30 cm on the left side, which means your island would have to be at least 120cm with a 60 cm hob, if you were to go for a 90 cm hob this would increase the size to 150cm. Preferably you would need to have an extra 30cm of space at the back of the hob as well to prevent the splashes and grease going on the floor while cooking, however if this is not possible you can install a mini glass splash back behind your hob. In order to maximise your kitchen storage we recommend installing a drawer pack underneath your hob in the island where you can keep all the cooking utensils, cutlery, pans, etc. What happens with the extractor you might ask? Well, there are a few solutions at your disposal, the first and most traditional is to install an extractor in the ceiling, unfortunately due to the size of the components, a flush look will be very difficult to achieve, the negative point of this is you will need quite a powerful extractor, and even then it will not be as effective as the other options simply because there is so much space between the cooking surface and the extractor. The second option is to have an extractor ‘hanging’ down from the ceiling closer to the hob, this will be more useful than the former option, however this does not do any favours for the aesthetics of your kitchen – imagine yourself cooking and having a great bit of glass/steel hanging almost on your eye level, it is rather intrusive in my opinion. I have left my two favourite options till last. The third option is to have a downdraft extractor which is built into the island behind the hob and slides in and out, as well as being useful, it does not take up any space and keeps your island looking clean. The fourth option is to get a hob from a make such as Bora which has a built in extractor inside the hob and makes your kitchen look like a million £.
Another option is to install the sink in the hob, in this scenario it makes sense to put the dishwasher on the left or right hand side of the sink in the island, as putting in anywhere else will make it troublesome to load the dishes without splashing anything on the floor, also – please consider the fact that islands are meant to add the “wow” factor to your kitchen as well as be functional, while having a sink in the island might seem like a good idea, make sure you plan for a simple sink base unit where you can store all your sponges and washing up liquids as leaving them on plain view on top of the work surface or even inside the sink may spoil the aesthetics of your kitchen. Whether you decide to go for the hob or the sink in your island – remember that plumbing and/or electrics will have to be prepared and put in the correct position prior to installation therefore it is a good idea to liaise with your electrician and/or plumber in the design phase to let them know your plans as the plumbing and electrics will have to be run under the floor in preparation for installation.
Would you like to use the island as a sitting/dining area as well? Consider that the standard cabinet depth is 56cm, it is usual practice to put the cabinets on the island back to back which and then cover the joints on the sides with panels for the seamless look. In order to have a comfortable sitting area you need 30cm (12 inches) of over hang on the worktop for leg space. One of the solutions if you are strapped for space is to use full depth cabinets on one side of the island, and to use slimmer cabinets perhaps 36 cm on the back, this would leave you more room for leg space, and also you can store items which you do not need to access on a regular basis. There are different solutions for sitting space on the island such as a multi level island where the preparation and sitting areas are on different levels – please ask your designer for the available options. It makes sense to install power points in the worktop which you can use for everything from charging your laptop and phone to using a blender. Flush tower sockets with USB outlets are available to provide this solution. The socket is hidden in the island, but when you push the top, a tower slides up with the power outlets, which can be hidden neatly once you have finished using it. Another option is to put a socket on the side of the island, however please keep in mind that if you wish to install a socket on the side of the island you cannot use a drawer pack as the last cabinet where the socket will be installed. Using an island for food preparation would also make sense to install an integrated bin cabinet where you can swipe all your cooking waste directly into the bin from the worktop, this saves space on the kitchen floor and is very useful at the same time!
The final point I would like to make is as I mentioned earlier in this post – the island, regardless of it’s function should add a “wow” factor to your kitchen, to achieve this one can incorporate a few different tricks such as using mirrored plinths with LED strips built into the recess above the plinths – this would give your island a floating effect, another neat trick is if you have a handless kitchen you can use side panels with dummy handless recess to make it seem as though the handle is going all the way around without breaking any symmetries, please ask your designer on other available options.