Are we over a kitchen island trend?
‘‘In practice, I think islands are an invention of the wealthy who spend more time heating up take-aways.’’
Watch any television show, or turn the pages of a home design magazine, and chances are the kitchens you see will have a central island. In theory, a kitchen island adds extra workspace; and in an open-plan living area, it helps to delineate the kitchen from the rest of the larger room.
But according to a some British interior designers, kitchen islands are ‘‘strangely impractical’’ and nothing more than ‘‘a middle-class status symbol’’.
In a recent Daily Mail article, interiors expert and Cowboy Builders presenter Alison Cork said, ‘‘I don’t exactly remember when island units came into fashion, but they quickly because a status symbol. I remember spending hours measuring out my kitchen so I could shoehorn one in, completely ignoring the fact that the kitchen would in fact be far easier to get around if there wasn’t this granite carbuncle plonked in the middle.’’
Interior designer Vanessa Arbuthnott agreed, ‘‘They seem to me a middle class aspiration and a status symbol; a sign of a ‘‘good’’ cook, a professional mum and cool wife. But in practice, I think islands are an invention of the wealthy who spend more time heating up take-aways.’’
That may be true in London, but according to Auckland-based kitchen designer Robyn Labb, ‘‘Kitchen islands are ideally suited to the way we live here in New Zealand and Australia. They’ve been around for nearly 30 years, and they’re still large as life.’’
‘‘Their homes [in the UK] just don’t have the space for the kitchens that we have,’’ says Mal Corboy, who has designed awardwinning kitchens around the world. ‘‘New Zealand and Australia have some of the biggest homes in the world, on average. Our lifestyle is about open-plan living, and a kitchen with a big island is absolutely part of that.’’
London-based designer Anya Choroszczynska is quick to point out the potential pitfalls. ‘‘The lighting is often a disaster and the smell of cooking can reach the sitting area. People use kitchen islands in so many different ways but... there is nothing worse than a dead area in the middle of the room.’’ Rebecca Dupre of Dupere Design London agrees.
In this kitchen, by Mal Corboy, the island takes a prominent position, while the working space is set further back.