The Versatility of Kitchen Islands

It's the place in the kitchen where family and friends congregate, the homework gets completed, the party is started and the conversation is shared.  The large island, it's on many “must have” lists when it comes time to remodel the kitchen.  Where did these island dreams come from?  The kitchen island was certainly not a common fixture in homes built before the 1970's.  Kitchens were originally built as a separate room in the home, self contained and typically not visible from other rooms in the house.  It was a room where meals were prepared and either eaten at the kitchen table or in the dining room.  As women began to enter the workforce in the late seventies and early eighties lifestyles began to change, due to busy schedules and activities the family dinner was becoming a less frequent event.

Maybe it was an opportunity to reconnect with the family, but as families became busier the kitchen seemed to come out from behind its four walls.  Walls actually came down, no longer relegated to a closed off room where only cooking and eating took place, the kitchen was now a part of the living/family room.  The great room concept was born and it seems like we've never looked back.  Islands have become a necessary component of the open great room concept. Without a lot of walls the island became the divider of sorts, serving multiple functions depending on its size and shape.

A dark stained kitchen island in a white painted kitchen with Dura Supreme Cabinetry.

The islands of today come in every size and shape imaginable, from a simple base cabinet that offers additional prep space, to the elaborate cooking center or clean up zone.  There can be seating at counter height, bar height or even dropped down to table height. Islands can look like a piece of furniture, match the surrounding cabinetry or be an entirely different finish and door style. 

Craftsman Styled Cabinetry and Kitchen Island

A cottage styled, country kitchen design with white painted glass door cabinets)

Stained wood cabinets in a transitional styled kitchen design has a casual and warm feeling.

White kitchen design with a Kitchen Island with a sink and clean up zone.

The possibilities are endless but there are rules to follow.  The most important of these being space requirements.  The minimum recommended clearance around an island is 42" for a one cook, any less than this will diminish the overall functionality of the space. If you don't have the necessary space to accommodate the island of your dreams there are other options to consider which we will explore next time.


Wendy Anderson's picture