Are kitchen islands a good idea? How do I know if I have enough space?

If we had to name one design feature that only continues to increase in popularity as part of a kitchen design and layout, it’s the island. Many of our clients request one as part of their new kitchen design and its easy to understand why – an island is such a great way to increase both counter and storage space and can be used to replace long runs of cabinetry as part of a more open-plan kitchen design.

Vita Nova Interiors Murrin
Credit: Vita Nova Interiors

But as well as providing practical storage, a well-thought-out and superbly designed kitchen island can completely change the flow of a room by adding a definitive central point and creating a social space for working, cooking, eating and relaxing.

So, a kitchen island is certainly a good idea in our opinion, but only if you have space for one and ensure it is sized properly to complement your room without taking over the space.

Here are our key points to consider when deciding if an island is a good idea for your kitchen design:

Is your island the right size for the space?
If you make your island too large, it will only serve to make your kitchen feel smaller, which is the opposite of what most of us want to achieve! Generally, we advise clients to have at between 1metre to 1.2metres of space at each side of their island, and if your kitchen is less than 13ft wide, we’d generally advise not to include an island as there simply won’t be enough space.

You want to be able to walk freely around your island at all sides and also have enough room for your bar stools to push back when you get up from sitting at the island without touching the wall, so take this all into consideration planning your island.

Vita Nova Interiors
Credit: Vita Nova Interiors

What will the main purpose of your island be?
By this, we mean the reason why you want an island (in addition to it looking beautiful!). Many of our clients choose to incorporate their oven and hob into the island, meaning it is a working cooking space and as such needs to function like that. If you need your island to incorporate major appliances like a sink and dishwasher, this will obviously affect its width and depth as these appliances will need to fit.

You’ll also need to consider the placement of your cooker hood/extractor. Where budget allows, personally we would recommend specifying a hob with a built-in extractor that sucks smells down into the hob rather than up above into the extractor, as this means you don’t have to compromise the aesthetic of the room by having a cooker hood fitted over your island.

If your plan to replace your dining table with an island, you’ll need to leave plenty of room for stools and have at least one open side that you can ‘tuck’ under when eating. This will mean losing space for built-in storage in the island itself, as the structure has to accommodate space for your seating to fit.

What about electricity and lighting?
We always advise clients to think early on in the process about lighting for their island and how it will work as part of the overall kitchen design. Typically, pendant lights work beautifully to illuminate an island so make sure you advise your electrician of where you want the lights to go when they are doing the prep work. We’d also advise having your island lighting on a dimmer switch so you can create a softer, cosier light for when you sit down and eat.

We also always recommend having at least one double plug socket built into your island, either along with one of the shorter edges or underneath the lip of the work surface at the breakfast bar section. This is really handy for plugging in phones, laptops and tablets if you’re going to be using your island as a workspace or for family activities including schoolwork.

It goes without saying that islands that incorporate ovens and dishwashers will need proper electricity and plumbing too.

Kitchen Islands

Are there any alternatives to an island?
Fear not – if you want an island but don’t quite have the space, there are always alternatives! Peninsulas – like a smaller version of an island but usually attached to a wall or run of cabinetry – are a brilliant alternative to an island in smaller kitchens where space is at a premium but you still want the effect of an island and require the additional work surface.

Peninsulas usually convert an L-shaped kitchen layout into more of a U or horseshoe shape, and they work well to divide the space between the kitchen and dining/living area as part of an open plan layout.

And remember, at Daval, all our kitchens are made to measure for every project, so we can help you create a bespoke-sized kitchen island or peninsula that is the perfect fit for your space and blends aesthetics with practicality to achieve the perfect result.

Hopefully, we’ve helped answer some of the important questions around what to think about when deciding if a kitchen island will work for your space, but if you would like more information or want to discuss your kitchen project, please contact us by emailing enquiries@daval-furniture.co.uk.

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