It’s no accident that when folks look for new homes or remodel their present interiors, kitchen islands turn up on almost everyone’s “wish list.” We at Diamond Kitchen and Bath are right there with you—in fact, when done well, they can be the best seats in the house! Here are a few tips to help you make your island seating just that.
1. The Cook Still Needs to Be Queen (or King).
Whether your island functions more as an additional table or as cabinetry in its own right, remember to design it so that there’s room enough for both sit-down users and the cook! Also, since the classic kitchen “work triangle” generally includes the center island, plan your island’s dimensions and layout so its traffic patterns don’t interrupt that triangular workspace’s efficiency.
Note that this applies whether there are burners or a heat source on the island or not; prep work needs space, too, so situate your barstools or other seating along the outer perimeter. Often, setting up the island as a long “work table” allows you to have seating at both ends, which aids both conversation and cooking space. Alternatively, Quality’s Woodstar line offers islands that are, in effect, two-in-one options: one part is all business (containing the sink or cooktop), while a second part alongside it offers unencumbered seating and eating space.
2. Think Outside the Rectangular Box.
Islands don’t have to be elaborate to work like a charm: any overhang of decent size and/or kneeholes in the design can accommodate a stool or two. And islands don’t necessarily have to “float” independently in the middle of your space, either. Especially in small kitchens, you can extend your regular countertop in an “L” shape for a peninsula that gives you just as much fun and function.
Don’t have a lot of room for a long rectangle? Think square—or even round. Curvy islands look dynamite in modern kitchens, blending clean, elegant lines and a touch of whimsy. One unique approach comes in KraftMaid’s contemporary line, with an island-shaped much like a slice was taken out of a pie: angled on two sides, curved over the seating area. Another unusual shape comes from Quality’s Woodstar: a freestanding two-level island with large cabinets on one end and bistro-style chairs on the side.
This brings up an interesting point about seating, too: it needn’t be a worry, even with unusually-shaped islands. Mid-Century and Art Deco style stools both work terrifically with these rounded edges; curves also often provide more seating space than their angular counterparts!
3. Consider the View
Don’t think there’s a “view” indoors? Think again. Your island’s position will determine what your guests get to see—or try to avoid seeing! Where you put your seating can determine if your guests are truly comfortable or if they spend time jockeying for “better” positions around your workspace.
For example, if you position stools so they face inward, toward your cabinetry, make sure those cabinets and countertops are neat. A messy or more “spontaneous” cook may want to position the seating so guests aren’t staring down a counter covered in flour, a sink of dishes, or appliance clutter. On the other hand, if your guests face outward into a living room or family room, you’ll want the view there to be pleasant, too. Often, one of the most inviting ways to position your countertop extension, breakfast bar, or freestanding “snack spot” is so guests can take in your family room’s more attractive features from it, such as a fireplace, a terrific wall of windows, or arts on the walls. That makes for a terrific experience all the way around—both companionship for you and a welcoming ambiance for them.
Do remember to position your island so that lighting on it is indirect and without glare, too. This applies especially to natural light. Otherwise, you could have a west-facing kitchen window that pours tons of sunshine into your kitchen well into the evening hours…and makes the center island seating almost unusable during that time. Check brightness levels so your guests don’t need sunglasses indoors!
No Need to Feel Marooned!
Exploring your kitchen island possibilities can be a little like exploring actual physical islands: you may feel a bit “adrift” when confronted with so many details to consider. Never fear—just come see us at Diamond Kitchen and Bath, and we’ll help you “navigate” your way to a perfect island for your décor and budget. Check us out.