Island dreaming – how to design the perfect kitchen island
Ideal for food preparation, cooking, dining, and socialising, a kitchen island is a great addition to any kitchen. However, careful planning is key to achieving an efficient island that will enhance the use of your space. Read Phoenix’s recommendations to set you on the right path.
Consider the island’s purpose
Not all islands are equal! Some are created for prep and service, others for cooking and eating and some for storage and washing up. So, before you begin to design anything, think about how the island will be used as this will have an effect on the width and depth of your island.
If prep is the main use of your island, consider how the unit can help to enhance the cooking process. The island should feature plenty of space to house food and appliances and for preparation such as chopping, mixing, and blending. A sink can also be a useful addition to your island, as it will create a smooth process between washing food and preparing it. If you’ll be cooking on it, don’t forget you’ll need a range hood above the cooktop or smells will hang around the kitchen.
If your island will double as a dining and entertaining space, prioritise seating and make sure you provide appropriate clearance based on the height of your counter as well as behind chairs or stools. You should also create a workspace away from the seating area, as this will allow for a space for people to gather that doesn’t encroach on the prep space.
Get the proportions right
If your kitchen is long and narrow, you will want an island that fits into this space. For a small, compact kitchen you will obviously need a scaled-down island.
Next look at the orientation of the island within its intended space. This will depend on various factors, including access routes, location of windows and 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.
The final and most important consideration is the actual size of the island. At a minimum, an island should be 1.5 metres long, and to allow for a cooktop, between 2.4 metres and 3 metres in length. In terms of depth, usually islands are 1.2 metres to accommodate deep cabinets back to back. If you’re doing a breakfast bar on the outside rather than storage, you’ll only need to allow for one set of cabinets, but the bar will need 30cm-45cm of overhang.
Choose the right fixtures and fittings
Once you’ve decided on the main purpose of the island, and how to balance the unit’s functions against one another, it’s time to consider its style, and how it will fit with the overall kitchen design. Let’s start with the materials for your island. It’s a good idea to keep the materials used for the island similar to those across the rest of the kitchen to keep the room feeling consistent. So, if you have wooden units, stick to a wooden kitchen island and if you have granite worktops, install the same on the island.
But this doesn’t mean that the island needs to be in a uniform style to the rest of the kitchen. Choosing different yet complementing colour schemes can create a statement, be it dramatic, formal or casual atmosphere.
When it comes to storage, deep drawers rather than doors work well as they pull out easily, giving a view of everything inside, meaning you don’t have rifle through dark cabinets. If you have a smaller kitchen, incorporate some open shelving in your island to make the room feel more spacious.
Tapware is the crowning jewel of the kitchen and with myriad styles and finishes available, a good starting point for selecting the right tap is to draw style cues from the design of your kitchen.
For contemporary kitchens, brushed nickel and matte black are on trend, but for timeless appeal chrome or brushed gold is the way to go.
If you’re looking to make a statement, you could add a splash of colour with a split finish such as brushed rose gold or go bolder with blush pink, powder blue or sage green as found in our Zimi collection.
Functionality is also key – sink mixers with pull-out sprays and pull-down taps can often be a statement piece, particularly on an island bench, with the tall adjustable head suited to washing large pots and directional sprays ideal for rinsing vegetables.