If they could, just about everyone would have an island in their kitchen. A kitchen island not only looks good but is practical, offering both storage and worktop options.  However, as with every type of kitchen configuration, careful planning is key to achieving an efficient island that will enhance your space. 

Here are 6 tips on designing the perfect island for your space.

How best to orientate your island

This depends on a number of factors, including access routes, location of windows and, most importantly, the shape and size of the room. For example, if your room is rectangular and you want a rectangular island, this would typically follow the same orientation as the room, with the longest edge running parallel with the longest wall.

How big should the island be?

In general, the island will be a platform for either the sink or the hob, so the length and depth will vary depending on how you plan to use it. Most people put a hob on their island so they can face into the room, and towards family or guests, while cooking. To allow for a hob, the ideal size of an island is between 2.4m and 3m in length, and approximately 1m to 1.2m in width. The minimum size it could be is 2.2m in length x 1m in width; any less and the work surface would be too small.

It’s important to note that for a continuous piece of worktop with no join, you may need to reduce the size of your intended island, depending on the size of worktop slabs available. Standard sizes for most solid stone materials are 3m x 1.35m, although within quartz ranges the biggest size available is a jumbo 3.2m x 1.14m. Any bigger than this and you would need two pieces of worktop, with a resulting join. 

Rather than trying to conceal a worktop join though, one solution is to make a distinguishing feature of it. This is often achieved through mixing and matching different materials. For instance, you might have 3m of quartz contrasted with a wooden breakfast bar or butcher’s block at one end of the worktop.

Similarly, if you wanted to extend an island down the length of a room, you might drop from worktop height to an adjoining table at the far end. Again this could be in a different colour or material from the main worktop.

What appliances should I house?
Including appliances on an island will often make for a more sociable setting. Whatever appliances you choose, it’s important to liaise as early as possible with your builder to ensure all plumbing and electrical work is in the necessary position. Doing this retrospectively can prove a lot more expensive or, in some cases, impossible.

Appliances you might choose for your island include sinks, hobs, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers and wine coolers. Pop-up sockets can also be included and are convenient if you want to use small appliances on your island, such as blenders and juicers.

What is the best type of extractor to use?
Many people don’t want a large extractor fan hanging from their ceiling. To get around this there are a few different options. The most popular solution is a flush-mounted ceiling extractor. Contrary to popular belief, in most instances these are not actually mounted into the ceiling, because the body and chassis of these machines is approximately 300mm deep, while a normal ceiling is around 250mm deep. So in order to fit the extractor in it is necessary to build an architectural ceiling bulkhead the same size as the island, into which fits the extractor fan. As the bulkhead can be used to hide lighting feeds, it also provides the opportunity for some added layers of light within the room.

Another option for an island extractor fan is to have a ‘pop-up’ or downdraft extractor, which rises up out of the worktop at the push of a button. When it’s in use, it rises from the worktop, but when closed, it’s completely flush. As well as providing light and a filtration system, this extractor also acts as a splatter guard, which is particularly helpful should you have people sitting behind the island.

A third, and slightly more expensive option, is to have a combined hob / extractor fitted into the island. These hobs are at least 80cm wide with a central fan that draws down fumes and steam into a ducting system within the island. This ducting expels filtered air out through a discreet outlet at the side of the island, with the residue trapped in the filter for easy cleaning. This type of hob will require sufficient depth in the island to allow for space for ducting around the various cupboards, drawers and other appliances.

Should the island include seating?

It is a good idea to include seating at the island. It makes for a sociable setting as well as providing a practical space for working or dining. Typically, islands are rectangular in shape, with seating at either of the shorter sides, across the back length, or a combination of both. 

Ensuring enough space for seating at your island is important. Generally, you will need to allow a width of 50-60cm from the edge of a worktop to the back of a stool, and 30cm of knee space for an average-sized adult. On a 3m island, these dimensions would allow for 4-6 seats, depending on your choice of stools.

A lot of the seating for islands is intended for children. Where children are involved, you might prefer to lower the height of your island’s seating to allow for three or four chairs rather than stools.

What alternatives are there to regular shaped islands?
Kitchen islands can come in different shapes and sizes. For instance, if the room is wide enough (such as a 5m wide x 10m long room), you could create an L-shaped kitchen layout complemented by an L-shaped island. Other designs include round islands, islands with curves, or islands with integrated open shelving, which is functional as well as decorative. 

Space permitting, you could even include two islands facing each other. With a hob in one and a sink in the other, this arrangement creates an intense and focused work zone, while still allowing others to continue around the outskirts to reach, say, the oven or fridge. 

If you’re looking for something a little different, and you have the space and the budget, this last idea would certainly give your kitchen some serious wow factor.

How FABRICO can help

FABRICO’s one-stop-shop approach to helping our customers achieve the home of their dreams includes a free kitchen design service. We can offer advice and suggestions on how best to plan an island that meets the functional and aesthetic needs of your kitchen space.We are always pleased to discuss your plans and give you the benefit of our time and expertise. Feel free to contact us either through our website (click here to contact us) or email us enquiries@fabrico.uk.

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