How to Plan the Per­fect Kitchen Is­land

how to ge There can’t be many t kitchen wish­lists that h e don’t in­clude a kitchen is­land. m Not only do they have the po­ten­tial ri to look great, but they are also hugely g h prac­ti­cal, says Natasha Brins­mead t

Homebuilding & Renovating - - Contents -

The kitchen is­land is high on the wish­list of many home­own­ers, but what do you need to con­sider be­fore­hand? We ex­plain all

Per­haps it is the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of the large, open plan kitchen diner, or maybe it has some­thing to do with the fact that ev­ery­one seems to be car­ry­ing out su­per swish kitchen ex­ten­sion projects of late — what­ever the rea­son, the kitchen is­land has be­come some­thing of a must-have fea­ture.

Kitchen is­lands come in so many con­fig­u­ra­tions and de­signs that your kitchen, be it teeny tiny or gar­gan­tuan, can ben­e­fit. Is­lands not only pro­vide ex­tra stor­age and work­top space, but they can also form a bound­ary be­tween cook­ing and liv­ing or din­ing spa­ces, while curved or shaped units can work to di­rect traf­fic away from busy prepa­ra­tion ar­eas.

De­sign Con­sid­er­a­tions

When it comes to in­te­rior de­sign fea­tures these days, the choice has be­come al­most over­whelm­ing. While we want plenty of op­tions and chances to tai­lor our homes to our unique needs, it can mean that de­ci­sion mak­ing is nigh on im­pos­si­ble. Kitchen is­lands are no dif­fer­ent. Size, shape, colour, con­fig­u­ra­tion, height — all these fac­tors need to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. But be­fore you give up com­pletely on the idea, rest as­sured, there are ways to sim­plify the se­lec­tion process. Be­gin by ask­ing your­self: l Why do I want a kitchen is­land? This is the big one and your an­swers will de­ter­mine its com­plete de­sign and, ul­ti­mately, what you are will­ing to add onto your bud­get to achieve it. An­swers might in­clude: ex­tra stor­age or work ar­eas, some­where to sit and eat in­for­mal meals, as a cook­ing area, or as a sim­ple room di­vide. l How much space do I need for my is­land unit to work well? l How much will an is­land unit add to the over­all cost of the kitchen? l Do I want it to ‘match’ the rest of the kitchen units or be made from a con­trast­ing ma­te­rial? l Do you want a place to sit at the is­land? l How will it af­fect the kitchen light­ing plan?

Armed with the an­swers to these ques­tions, you should be able to start form­ing a men­tal pic­ture of the kind of kitchen is­land that will suit you.

Ideally, the kitchen is­land will form part of your over­all kitchen de­sign from the off, but some­times is­lands are added later, af­ter the main kitchen units have been in­stalled. In the ma­jor­ity of cases, how­ever, a kitchen is­land will be pur­chased at the same time as the kitchen and from the same sup­plier. Other op­tions in­clude build­ing one on a DIY ba­sis or ask­ing a joiner to make one for you. Do bear in mind that if you add it at a later date, it will be more dis­rup­tive to get power, wa­ter etc. to it if needed.

Se­lect­ing the Size and Shape

The size and shape will very much de­pend on the rest of your kitchen de­sign and the over­all size of the room. The

beauty of the is­land is that it can be long and nar­row, wide and hefty, sim­ply a work sur­face or packed full of shelv­ing for all your cook­ery books, or maybe an ap­pli­ance hub — you can tai­lor it to your own needs and wants.

The big­ger the kitchen, the big­ger you can af­ford to go with your kitchen is­land. If your kitchen lies more on the bi­jou side, don’t rule an is­land out. Yes, you might have to com­pro­mise when it comes to what you can in­clude, but set out clear pri­or­i­ties, such as ex­tra prepa­ra­tion space, an­other cou­ple of cup­boards or some­where to perch for a quick snack, and you should not have to miss out.

The min­i­mum rec­om­mended size for a fixed kitchen is­land is around 1m x 1m. These di­men­sions al­low for the in­clu­sion of an in­te­grated ap­pli­ance while giv­ing use­ful workspace too.

The space left be­tween the is­land and the sur­round­ing units and walls is known as the ‘clear­ance space’. This needs to be ob­served as not only will it pro­vide the space you use to walk around the kitchen, but also al­lows unit and ap­pli­ance doors to be fully opened. With the small­est of is­lands, a min­i­mal clear­ance zone of 800mm is rec­om­mended, al­though the ideal dis­tance is 1m.

Get­ting the Height Right

The height of your is­land unit will de­pend on what you in­tend on us­ing it for. The chances are that, if you are plan­ning on us­ing it for a work­top, hob or sink (any­thing you stand at ba­si­cally) then you will want it to be set at work­top height. This tends to be 910mm, in­clud­ing a work­top thick­ness of 40mm. Of course, if you find it more com­fort­able to have your work­top set higher or lower than this, then some tweak­ing will be re­quired.

If your is­land unit is go­ing to pro­vide a spot to sit at, its height may be dif­fer­ent. In gen­eral, to sit at an is­land unit on a chair, an over­all height of around 760mm works well, whereas to sit at an is­land on a stool re­quires a height of ap­prox­i­mately 1,060 - 1,220mm.

Some of the most prac­ti­cal kitchen is­lands are dual height. Not only is this is a good way to achieve both an eat­ing area as well as a food prep site, but it can also work to con­ceal cook­ing clut­ter from the din­ing side of a kitchen.

Choos­ing the Work­top

Some home­own­ers like to match the is­land work­top to that used on their base units, while oth­ers pre­fer a con­trast­ing ma­te­rial. Prac­ti­cal­ity is key. If you plan on in­cor­po­rat­ing a hob or sink into the is­land, then a ma­te­rial that is heat or wa­ter-re­sis­tant makes sense — oth­er­wise, in­te­grated triv­ets are a bril­liant idea.

Hard, non-por­ous stones such as gran­ite are prac­ti­cal, as are com­pos­ites con­tain­ing quartz. Mar­ble stains eas­ily, and tim­ber needs a good amount of care and main­te­nance.

If you want a con­tin­u­ous piece of work­top with no seams, you may have to ei­ther re­duce your is­land size or re­think the ma­te­rial. The stan­dard size of most slabs of stone for work­tops is 3m x 1.35m, al­though com­pos­ites such as Co­rian can be made to join seam­lessly, at a cost. Oth­er­wise, cus­tom-made stone slabs and tim­ber sec­tions are an op­tion.

Con­sider Lo­ca­tion

Where you place your is­land will re­flect the lay­out of your kitchen. How­ever, a cen­tral po­si­tion in the room tends to work well for most spa­ces, keep­ing in mind the re­quired and rec­om­mended clear­ance spa­ces.

Cre­at­ing a gal­ley kitchen lay­out us­ing an is­land is a great idea — loved by chefs for its prac­ti­cal­ity and ease of use. A gal­ley kitchen lay­out en­ables you to work at the is­land, turn and spin and reach the work sur­face be­hind; this al­lows quick and safe ac­cess to all use­ful ar­eas of the kitchen. Avoid clear­ance spa­ces of more than 1,200mm in this in­stance as they re­quire an ex­tra step and cre­ate an awk­ward and dis­con­nected feel in the room.

In­tro­duc­ing Ap­pli­ances

Cre­at­ing an ap­pli­ance ‘nerve cen­tre’ or even in­clud­ing just one or two ap­pli­ances within your kitchen is­land re­quires some ex­tra plan­ning.

An in­te­grated hob or cooker means you will need to con­sider an elec­tric­ity or gas sup­ply as well as ex­trac­tion, while in­clud­ing a sink or dish­washer means think­ing about wa­ter sup­ply and waste. None of this will typ­i­cally be a prob­lem as long as you make your re­quire­ments known to your elec­tri­cian, plumber and kitchen sup­plier early on in the de­sign stages, be­fore work starts on site.

If you plan on sit­ing your kitchen sink within your is­land, con­sider how you will con­ceal the wash­ing up mess from the din­ing side of the is­land. Many peo­ple choose to fit a higher level plinth to cre­ate sep­a­ra­tion be­tween food prep and eat­ing ar­eas — and to hide dirty dishes from view.

Ex­trac­tor Hoods for Is­lands

When it comes to ‘ over-is­land ex­trac­tion’, wall-mounted units are out. In­stead you will need to look at free­stand­ing ex­trac­tion units, ei­ther mounted onto the ceil­ing di­rectly above the hob, or com­ing out from the work­top. In the case of ceil­ing-mounted ducted ex­trac­tion units, the duct­ing will need to be taken up and out through the ceil­ing, us­ing the short­est route pos­si­ble for max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency.

Pop-up ex­trac­tors are com­monly known as down­draught ex­trac­tors. When not in use, these units are hid­den be­neath the work­top. When re­quired, they rise from the work sur­face, to a height of around 310mm.

Like all ex­trac­tion units, these down­draught ex­trac­tors can be used to sim­ply re­cir­cu­late the air, through a

char­coal fil­ter, elim­i­nat­ing the need for duct­ing. How­ever, they work best when ducted to the out­side. In this case, the duct­ing usu­ally passes un­der the floor­ing, be­low or along the back of the kitchen units. (As such, you be­gin to build up a pic­ture as to why is­lands – and in­deed the whole kitchen – is best planned in ad­vance, be­fore start­ing work on site and cer­tainly be­fore first fix.)

If you nei­ther like the idea of a down­draught or a pen­dant-style ex­trac­tor, then con­sider a flush-mounted ceil­ing ex­trac­tor in­stead. In or­der to make them ap­pear flush, the units usu­ally need to be fit­ted into a sec­tion of false ceil­ing or over­head bulk­head. The re­sult is a sleek, yet ef­fec­tive, fea­ture — plus the over­head bulk­head al­lows for the in­clu­sion of some in­ter­est­ing light­ing ef­fects.

Kitchen Is­land Seat­ing

The kitchen is­land is the per­fect place to in­clude some ex­tra seat­ing — and makes the ideal spot for guests to perch or for more in­for­mal din­ing as a fam­ily.

The shape and size of your is­land will dic­tate how much seat­ing you can in­cor­po­rate, but in gen­eral, you will need around 300mm of clear space be­neath the is­land to ac­com­mo­date knees. You will also need to leave enough space be­hind and to ei­ther side of your cho­sen stools or chairs for peo­ple to get in and out com­fort­ably.

If your seat­ing will be used by chil­dren, you might want to con­sider low­er­ing the height of your is­land at one end or along one of the longer sides — so that it tran­si­tions from is­land to ta­ble.

The Light­ing Scheme

Good light­ing will trans­form your kitchen is­land from func­tional into an ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture. The sim­plest light­ing route is the tried-and-tested three pen­dants in a row so­lu­tion. This is a method that looks great and does the job of shed­ding light where it is needed well.

How­ever, not all is­lands lend them­selves to this set up, mean­ing you may need to look for some nifty al­ter­na­tives. Well-placed re­cessed down­lighters can work well, pro­vid­ing they are po­si­tioned in such a way that who­ever is work­ing at the is­land will not block the light from the sur­face. Spot­lights set on a track are a great op­tion, par­tic­u­larly if they are ad­justable.

A strik­ing over­sized chan­de­lier can re­ally add glam­our and wow fac­tor to the is­land, while in­cor­po­rat­ing some con­cealed LED light­ing within a sec­tion of false ceil­ing di­rectly above the is­land will in­ject some ar­chi­tec­tural magic to the set-up.

flex­i­ble is­land

above: The K7 solid wood kitchen by Team 7 morphs from a kitchen coun­ter­top to a din­ing ta­ble, a side­board or a bar — all at the touch of a but­ton. The is­land can be ad­justed in height from 74cm to 114cm. The sink can be cov­ered and the taps re­tracted. From £33,000, as shown (wharf­

com­pact is­lands

above: How­den’s Al­len­dale white kitchen fea­tures shaker-style doors. The U-shape kitchen here fea­tures a small cus­tom-made penin­sula, per­fect for smaller kitchens (how­ right: The Ox­ford painted kitchen is­land from Cotswold Co. comes com­plete with handy stor­age bas­kets, £849 (

is­lands for ev­ery kitchen

left: This is­land, part of How­den’s Bur­ford range, dou­bles up as a cosy seat­ing area (how­ be­low: This con­tem­po­rary is­land is part of the Genoa col­lec­tion from Op­ti­plan Kitchens (op­ti­

cen­tral kitchen is­lands

from top: The Fitzroy kitchen from Sec­ond Na­ture (sncol­lec­tion.; The Mil­bourne kitchen from Sec­ond Na­ture (as be­fore); Grey Lin­ear kitchen from Har­vey Jones (har­

din­ing is­lands

left: This Har­vey Jones’ Lin­ear kitchen com­bines dif­fer­ent work­top ma­te­ri­als and breaks up a large expanse (har­ be­low: Us­ing three pen­dants over a cen­tral is­land works well. These Upton ce­ramic pen­dants from Fritz Fryer are ideal (

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