Table Of Contents

All About Kitchen Islands

Placed at the heart of the cook space, these multipurpose units can enhance a kitchen’s utility and appearance

Topping the list of must-haves in most kitchen renovations, an island is the perfect value-added improvement, one that transforms the way you use and enjoy the busiest room in your house.

At a minimum, an island adds counter and storage space just where you need them: at the pivot point between your kitchen’s cooking, cleaning, and food-prep zones. And outfitted with fixtures and appliances, such as a sink and cooktop, or bar stools for dining, an island itself can become the hub of activity. Such utility is the reason builders and designers say that adding an island offers more bang for your buck than just about any other kitchen upgrade.

Island cooktops date to the colonial era. These simple worktables, situated near the hearth of the home, were where families prepped meals and then sat down to break bread. Even after the advent of built-in cabinetry, and well into the first half of the 20th century, the island remained a freestanding piece of furniture, often with a look and style all its own. The tradition continues today, as islands often integrate materials, colours, and design flourishes that are different from those of the surrounding wall cabinets, making them the focal point of the space.

In the following piece, you’ll find all the information and DIY kitchen island ideas to create a kitchen island that’s right for you—from the critical clearances for good traffic and workflow to the many ways you can customise it to suit your particular space and the way you cook and entertain.

A handcrafted island made of reclaimed chestnut stands apart from the painted wall cabinets

For two-cook kitchens or for universal design, which accounts for people with physical limitations or those who rely on a wheelchair, plan a 48-inch passageway on all sides.

Planning: Dining and Cooking Dimensions

The higher a counter, the less overhang it needs. (Knees bend less on tall stools). The distance between the seat and the top of the counter is always the same—12 inches—which puts the surface at a comfortable height for eating.

Island Types: Storage

A basic freestanding or built-in island provides counter and cabinet space without the expense of sinks or major appliances. Open shelves, as shown here,
can keep cookbooks and dishes handy.

Island Types: Prep and Wash

Sinks make islands ideal for washing hands and food and bartending for parties. Tuck bar sinks, like this one, into corners to maximise counter space. Give full-size sinks at least 1 foot of counter on both sides.

Island Types: Dining

An overhanging counter for casual eating needs space for knees, for diners to scoot chairs back, and for seating—at least 600mm for each chair.

Island Types: Cooking

A cooktop on an island turns the chef toward the centre of the room so that he can keep an eye on the action. But unlike a range by a wall, a cooking island leaves hot pans more exposed and will cost more to ventilate.

Island Type: Cooking and Eating

If you plan to cook and dine on an island, opt for a raised eating counter to create a safety buffer against an open flame or scalding steam.

Countertops: Butcher Block

The best material for chopping; it doesn’t dull knife edges, and any nicks and scratches can be sanded out. Treat it with mineral oil for a food-safe finish.

DIY: Movable Cart

It rolls into place on locking casters when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. Most are small—24 by 36 inches—making them good for tight kitchens.

Add-Ons: Open Shelves

When you want cookbooks close at hand, provide shelves at least 10 inches deep and 12 inches high, or size them to your biggest books. An attached bookcase can add 20 percent to the island’s cost.

Do you need help designing your dream kitchen? Contact Perth Premier Home Improvements to get a quote on a new kitchen renovation.

North Perth, Perth, Western Australia - 0439 067 772
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