Written by Paula Kennedy, KBB Editorial Board Member and founder of Seattle-based Timeless Kitchen Design
We all agree the kitchen is the heart of the home. Given that, I believe the kitchen ISLAND is the heartbeat, or the PULSE of that heart. It’s like a magnet! You can’t help but be drawn to it; it has an energy all its own.
Growing up at my Grammies’ house, I would sit on a stool at the kitchen table, which back then served as the island. That stool had years of paint layers, and every grandchild grew up with it. We would sit there decorating sugar cookies for hours or rolling out homemade cinnamon buns or pretending to help with canning.
My fondest memories visiting my parents as an adult are at their kitchen island. We would talk for hours sitting there, even though their stools were uncomfortable if you sat too long. But there was a sense that the magic would be broken if we moved to a more comfortable chair or room. They recently moved and downsized and no longer have an island, but the kitchen table serves just as well! My sister’s busy household has an island that is like a magnet, but it isn’t very big. It has a gas cooktop right in the middle of it, which severely limits countertop space and brings up safety concerns, yet we still gather − we can’t help it.
The is a critical element in our design; it can go really right or really wrong. What’s fascinating is that no matter how well or poorly designed, the island still draws us to it in a way no other element in the kitchen can. The sense of community and connection is palpable.
I was recently inspired to craft this Pinterest board − https://www.pinterest.com/paulakennedyckd/kitchen-islands/ − to get you inspired and keep you thinking out of the box. No more pedestrian kitchens here please! Think about it, we have the honor of designing homes, kitchens and kitchen islands that will bring families and friends together for generations.
Below are a few areas I want to really emphasize before you get lost in Pinterest, again:
Island sinks are almost always necessary, I’d say nine out of 10 times. This one below is my new favorite way to accomplish this goal. Make sure they also have a soap dispenser and garbage disposal. The island sink is no longer just the bar sink or a cute item they have to have to keep up with the Jones.’
Bar stools, get out of your rut if you are in one! Please help the MAGIC by having comfortable seating. Heights are important to get right, and please do give us a place to rest our feet.
Convertible, modular and flexibility − these concepts and function are in high demand and will only increase as trends continue to change.
Do you treat the ends of the island with as much care as the rest of the design?
We could go on and on, but they won’t let me.
- Accent material or color, only if it makes sense in the design
- Attached “table” – see great Pinterest examples
- Attached banquettes
- Appliances in the island, microwaves, undercounter refrigeration, secondary dishwashers
- Think outside the box with re-purposing furniture
- Countertops – mix it up!
- Visually stimulating, steal the show or be a supporting actor?
- Avoid the block of cabinets, open it up to add interest and to aid visual illusion of a larger space
Please follow the NKBA Guidelines while designing the Pulse of the Kitchen. How many steps would you want to take to complete cooking for your family? How far would you want to walk with a hot dish out of the island? How many kids, dogs or adults do you want underfoot when preparing a meal? Enjoy the Pinterest board, it has a narrative all its own. Happy island designing!
Paula Kennedy, CMKBD CLIPP, Timeless Kitchen Design, COPYRIGHT 2017