What's The Purpose of a Kitchen Island?

Published: 30th July 2009
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Remodeling a kitchen can be fun or a disaster; I once heard the divorce rate during kitchen remodels is high! Living without a kitchen can be more than an inconvenience, it can be painful.

So whether you are a man or a woman, single or married, here are some important planning tips about kitchen islands to avoid the headaches and minimize your kitchen downtime.

The Kitchen Triangle - No this is not like the Bermuda triangle, though plenty of stuff seems to disappear in my kitchen! The most efficient design for most kitchens is when the locations of the stove, refrigerator, and sink/dishwasher form a triangle. Consider this when planning the construction of a kitchen island.


What is the purpose of the island?

An island can:


* provide more workspace


* house appliances


* add storage


* provide seating and eating space



The Kitchen Island - If you are adding an island, there are some measurements to keep in mind. There needs to be a minimum of 36" for walking between counters, appliances, cabinets and islands. Also ensure that every one of the appliance and cabinet doors has ample room to open and close completely. The height of the island should be the same as your counter height. Many are square or rectangular, though the shape of your island is only limited by the space and your imagination.

Islands are often built with the same finishes as the kitchen cabinets in order to match. However they can be metal, wood, or stone. Some islands wrap the surface material down one or more of the sides.

Islands often need electricity. You don't want to have electrical cords hanging across the walkway areas. Electrical outlets can be installed high on the sides of the island and preferably away from any seating areas around the island. Check local codes. Most advise 20 amp 120-volt circuits and GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles.

Appliances on the Island - Islands can incorporate appliances, stove tops, and even sinks.

Above Your Island - The lighting above your island should be considered as well as other options. In many installations, cabinets, pots and pan hangers, and vent hoods or exhaust chutes can be installed above the island, depending on the application.

There are all sorts of different racks available for hanging pots and pans above your island. They come in many shapes and sizes and finishes. Be sure to measure for clearance if people will be seated anywhere around the island.

Island Tops - Counter top planning requires some answers to a few questions:

* How much cooking and baking will be done?

* What is the counter top budget?

* What material do you prefer?

Think about heat resistant counter top materials such as stone, granite, tile, or metal that blends with the other counter tops in the area. Nowadays people do mix and match surfaces depending on use.

Make sure edges and corners are smooth and rounded for safety. The most widely used counter top materials for many years were Formica and laminates. Now lower costs and technology are replacing laminates with natural stone and newer fabricated surfaces. Some counter top materials include butcher block, ceramic, concrete, copper, granite, laminate, limestone, marble, quartz, slate, soapstone, stainless steel, stone, tile, and wood.

Under Your Island - Under island cabinets and drawers are common and useful storage. If your island houses the main sink you will probably want to incorporate a dishwasher. An island can also be a handy place to house a trash receptacle as people might be eating there.

No Island is an Island - Even your island is subject to local building codes. You will want to run your plans by a local contractor and/or your zoning code engineer to make sure your island is meeting all building codes.

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