Islands are workhorses in the kitchen. They offer an additional surface area, apart from the perimeter countertops, that can be used for food prep, serving or as a place to perch and hang out with family and friends. Those with space-challenged kitchens often think there’s no way they can squeeze in an island, but you’d be surprised at just how compact you can go.
It’s important to think about the function of your island. Do you need additional storage space at the base of the island? Can it be open, such as the island above, or do you need closed storage? If it’s going to be an open shelf, think about what you will store there, as it will take center stage in your kitchen. Whatever is stored there could become a grease and dust collector unless it gets frequent use.
Or perhaps you need an island that serves as an in-kitchen hangout spot. Sure, you’re not going to serve a multi-course meal on an island like the one pictured here, but it’s the right size for a couple of people to sit, visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. If you plan to set a stool or stools around the island, consider placing them so that the person seated doesn’t get in the way of the cook.
Clearly, a narrow island is not going to be able to house a sink or a cooktop, but it can still be useful as a landing area when taking items out of the refrigerator or oven. In fact, for safety’s sake, if your kitchen lacks a surface next to your range or cooktop, you may want to add a small island nearby so that you have a place to set hot things without having to walk too far.
An island needn’t be a fixed piece of cabinetry. This cool industrial-style kitchen features a free-standing cart as its island. Think about adding wheels so that you can move the island around the space as needed. Just be sure you can lock the wheels to keep your island from wandering off.
Size your island to best fit the geometry of your space. If your kitchen is long and narrow, then you’ll want a long and narrow island. However, if your kitchen is more square-shaped, such as the one shown here, then an island that is similarly shaped will fit and function better.
Bigger isn’t always better. If your kitchen is a bustling space, I think giving yourself wider work aisles and a smaller island is preferable to cramming in an oversize island in a way that leaves you with uncomfortably narrow aisles and walkways.
Your turn: How have you squeezed a tiny island into your kitchen? Post and share a photo in the Comments.
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