Island living: Choosing the Right Kitchen Island
Islands can be enchanting. Beautiful and often mystical, they are single areas of eye-catching land that stand alone in the ocean. The striking nature of the island is enduring. Whether it’s a sandy atoll in the Caribbean or a workspace in your kitchen, the island will always be viewed as a beautiful focal point of the area.
At Extreme Design, we believe that kitchen islands are far from becoming a tired staple in the kitchen. Rather, they should be beautiful pieces of furniture that breathe life into your kitchen design. Achieving this requires a fine balance between form and function. Read on to discover our tips for achieving an island perfectly suited to you. Whether it’s the shape, material used or even the objects decorating the island, you should view it as a piece of kitchen art in itself.
Kitchen Island Aesthetics
At its core, the island is an aesthetic aspect of the kitchen and should be treated as such. While islands can hold many features and fulfil many functions, they will always remain visual focal points of the kitchen. With so many design possibilities, your island is often the best way to make your design more unique to you and your property.
The island’s position in the room, away from other worktops, cupboards and drawers, almost guarantees that visitors to the kitchen will be naturally drawn to it. As such, focusing on the decorative nature of the island is just as important as focusing on the function.
When designing an island with an Extreme designer, form and function are explored in tandem with one another. It’s a cohesive approach in which the aesthetics and functionality battle one another until at last, the final design is achieved – a perfect marriage of form and function.
As it will undoubtedly become the centre of the room – often literally as well as figuratively – your island design should reflect your design story. One of our favourite Extreme Design projects was for a couple whose kitchen was inspired by their American road trip to Arches National Park in Utah. Their island worktop was made using two pieces of stone with the joint between them forming the route the couple took on their journey. This is just one of the subtle yet effective ways through which an island’s aesthetics are able to really speak to the owners of a kitchen –it’s also a nice talking point when enjoying the space with friends.
Our most recent Extreme design project (picture below), was for two art admirers and collectors who wished for their kitchen to be a piece of sculpture and art in itself. The island featured an integrated cantilevered breakfast table coated in liquid metal – creating a suspended breakfast area that appeared to defy gravity.
Aside from the shape of the island, materials are another important aspect of the design journey. As a stand-out feature of the kitchen, it’s the perfect place to incorporate eye-catching materials which contrast yet complement the rest of the kitchen and interior – you can afford to be a little more daring with the materials on your island.
When choosing a material, of course, it’s vital that it is hard-wearing and stain resistant. An island will likely be taking more punishment than the rest of your kitchen, from food prep to wine spills, depending on its purpose.
Kitchen Island Functionality
With functionality at the centre of any island design, how do you determine whether an island will suit your practical needs? The first step is to decide on what the island’s function will be which begins with an understanding of how you will live in your kitchen. Is it a space for entertaining friends? Or perhaps an informal family dining area? Deciding on this at the start of the design journey will ensure that the design reflects your lifestyle and enhances how you will live in your new kitchen once complete.
Another consideration when defining the design of your island is how it interacts with the space beyond the kitchen. For instance, placing the hob on the island can work well for open plan kitchens overlooking the dining or living areas, meaning that you can feel part of the space when cooking. Alternatively, if you wish to have a social space suitable for cocktail parties with friends, the hob may be placed on the back wall leaving the island surfaces completely clear for you to serve canapes and for your guests to place drinks down.
If your island requires space to dine, it’s important to consider the type of dining arrangement you would like and for how many people. Dining can take the form of a high-level breakfast bar, or a lower level integrated dining table.
One of the key functional requirements of an island’s design is storage. The best islands will cleverly conceal very practical storage within a beautiful design. For instance, concealing push-to-open cabinets underneath the breakfast bar seating area can be useful for storing items you use less often. Floating cabinetry which protrudes from the main island can add much-needed storage whilst preventing the island from becoming too cumbersome.
The reverse of a kitchen island can be a place to conceal appliances such as wine storage, preventing them from interrupting the overall aesthetic of the design.
One component of kitchen island design which can be overlooked is the height. The island should be at a comfortable height for food preparation, cooking, hosting drinks or eating as necessary. There are standard heights for kitchen worktops and islands – around 0.9m – however, when going bespoke, your island should be designed to suit you. When designing an island, making it your own is by far the most important thing you can do.
Ultimately, the kitchen island is yours to develop with your designer. Never sacrifice function for form, and always ensure that an island reflects your design concept and personal story. The kitchen should be an extension of your personality and, although only a small part of it, the island is no different.
For information on creating a kitchen island that perfectly suits your personality and ideals, get in touch with the Extreme Design team for a truly bespoke kitchen design service.