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ISLANDS

DESIGNING A KITCHEN ISLAND, EXPERT TIPS AND PLANNING ADVICE

If you know how, designing a kitchen island is a simple step-by-step process. Here are the key things you need to consider, according to our experts. Designing a kitchen island is a task best approached with a ton of know how.

WHY?
Getting kitchen island design absolutely right is vital because your entire space revolves around this central element.  Incorporating the right kitchen island ideas into your planned design can not only provide extra seating and storage space, but can also house a sink and key appliances, while creating a focal point for friends and family to gather around.  A kitchen island can be an opportunity to introduce color, texture, new materials or, for the very adventurous, be a show-stopper, too.

ALLOW ENOUGH SPACE AROUND THE KITCHEN ISLAND
It sounds obvious but make sure you can move around the island and work in the kitchen with ease. This is as important as the kitchen island size itself, says Peter Humphrey: 'The negative space – the space between furniture – is as important as the size of the unit itself.  'The golden rule when designing a kitchen island is to allow 3 to 4 feet to move around easily, but there are times when going narrower is justified – for example when the dishwasher door is open.' Damian Wright echoes this: 'Allow at least 3.5 feet of space around the island, and if you have seating at the island, remember that not all bar stools tuck right in, so take this into account when measuring from the back of the island to the nearest wall cabinet.' Graeme Smith, head of retail and commercial design at Life Kitchens, adds: 'It is important to bear in mind that extra floor space may be needed in areas, like around the hob, that typically experience high-traffic.' 'Fitted or portable kitchen islands are both functional additions to a kitchen, but deciding on what style to go for depends on how multi-functional the kitchen needs to be,' says Graeme Smith.  'A mobile island is valuable to those who need furniture to act as a preparation-based room divider during the day and pushed aside at night to make way for entertaining.  'Fitted islands are a permanent fixture that prove more functional in larger kitchens with extra floor space.'

MIX SHAPES FOR INTEREST AND BALANCE
A round breakfast bar can work to soften a large island in a large room. Proportion is important; the island needs to fit into the design rather than dominate, whether round, square (like in this striking blue and white scheme) or a conventional rectangular shape. 'Using a different material for the breakfast bar helps to break up density,' adds Peter. 'We avoid split levels in island design the appeal often lies in a desire to hide mess away, but they can look and feel disjointed. If surface clutter bothers you, install two dishwashers.'

BE BRAVE WITH COLOR
Even if you have a neutral color scheme, designing a kitchen island gives the opportunity to incorporate more striking kitchen color ideas to add an exciting layer of interest to the space.  'I always like a kitchen island to feel anchored in the room, and the easiest way to achieve this is to use a punchy dark color for the island cabinetry,' says Peter.  'Bold, dark colors can be intimidating, but the island cabinetry is always below the line of sight when you walk in, so it provides an opportunity to be brave with color and create a contrast – a deep, dark blue kitchen island with brass hardware will always have wow factor.'

CREATE ENOUGH SPACE FOR FOOD PREP
'If the kitchen design dictates the hob needs to go on the island, then excellent ceiling extraction is essential.  'Ideally though, the island should be a space for food prep with a sink either the main sink or a prep sink. You’ll enjoy countertop space galore, the opportunity to integrate dishwashers and pull out bins underneath. 'If you need a fridge in the island, opt for a pull-out drawer such as Fisher & Paykel’s CoolDrawer, which can switch between fridge and freezer at the touch of a button,' advises Peter.

ENSURE THE KITCHEN ISLAND'S FUNCTIONALITY IS PERFECT
1. If there is to be a hob in the kitchen, putting it on the island will allow you to cook and socialize at the same time.
2. If you are planning a kitchen island sink, bear in mind that you will probably then have dishes sitting there waiting to be washed – or draining.
3. Consider if there is space for a wine fridge in the island, on the dining side.
4. Finally, factor in storage.
The best kitchen storage ideas for islands tend to be wide, deep drawers on the kitchen side, and either shallow drawers or open shelving on the dining side of the island – assuming it's not being used as a breakfast bar.

By: Jennifer Ebert

ISLANDS

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