Homes & Gardens



ESTABLISH SIZE The overall dimensions of any island unit should be influenced by the size and proposed layout of your kitchen. Begin by planning the perimeter cabinetry, plotting out depth as well as width, to ascertain how much space remains for the island. ‘The floor space around the island will often dictate the best size,’ says Mark Mills, managing director, Mereway Kitchens. ‘Aim for 90-120cm of floor space between the island and adjacent furniture or walls. This allows for walking around it, even if drawers are open or stools pulled back. Take care with the dishwasher placement if it has a drop-down door – you should be able to walk past when emptying it.’

CONSIDER SHAPE Whatever your island size, don’t be afraid to opt for a dynamic shape, says Jane Powell, designer, Roundhouse. ‘The pay-off can be huge in terms of visual impact. Shaped islands, such as L-shaped or deeply curved, can also help to zone an open-plan room, creating clear boundaries between cooking and relaxing.’ A round island is great for balancing out the harsh lines in a kitchen, but make sure it’s not too big, or it may become more obstacle than advantage. For any island shape, check that you will be able to reach the middle to wipe the surface without excessive stretching.

COOKING ON THE ISLAND Including cooking appliances in your island isn’t essential, but it can result in a more sociable kitchen layout, offering more room to spread out when cooking. For safety, a gas hob requires at least 30cm of worktop at either side, 15cm for induction, but go for more if possible. There are many extractor options for islands; two-in-one extracting induction hobs are a popular, space-saving choice. James Rayner, bespoke product manager, Westin, advocates choosing the extractor based on how you cook. ‘Serious cooks, who create a lot of fumes and odours very quickly, should go for an island hood or in-ceiling model. Downdraugh­t extraction is fine for everyday low-intensity cooking, but may fall short when searing a steak.’

INSTALL A SINK Large island units can accommodat­e the main kitchen sink and prove a smart way to gain a view while washing up if there’s no window on your kitchen’s external walls; however, they do guzzle a lot of valuable prep space. James Smith, director, House of Rohl, believes a small or mid-size sink is more suitable. ‘A secondary sink on an island can be a great way to divide kitchen functions between “clean” – drinking water and food preparatio­n – and “dirty” – washing up and household cleaning,’ he explains. ‘Pair a small prep sink with an instant hot water tap for extra convenienc­e.’

INCLUDE DINING The best islands have a working side and a social side. The latter could be a simple breakfast bar or a more substantia­l drop-down dining table/banquette arrangemen­t. ‘The table format can prove more comfortabl­e if you intend to eat most meals at the island and supports a change in worktop materials for extra design interest,’ says Richard Moore, design director, Martin Moore. Three is the dream number for a line of stools; if you need more, consider wrapping them around one end of the island for a more sociable sitting position.

SOURCE MATERIALS Due to their central position and the fact that they can be seen from all sides, island units are ideal for exploring interestin­g materials and finishes. From burnished brass sheeting and encaustic tiles to beautiful marble and back-lit quartz, the options are endless. ‘If you’re worried about overdoing it, restrict your statement material to the main focal point of your island – the elevation that will be on show from the dining table and/or as you enter the kitchen – then match the rest of the island materials to those used on the main cabinetry,’ advises Leila Touwen, co-founder, Pluck.



JANE POWELL, designer, Roundhouse

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