The kitchen island is a great addition, both aesthetically and ergonomically, in a whole range of spaces," says Gail Taylor of TH2 Designs. We see a huge range on our pages, from expansive, showstopping marble islands to slender, practical freestanding tables. Some integrate sinks and appliances, some have recesses or overhangs for bar stools, while others just provide much needed extra worktop space.
Storage is another major consideration. "A well-designed island can significantly increase the storage space available," explains Gail. Many islands integrate appliances on one side of the island, while leaving the other side open for storage or a recess for seating. "I often allow for a shallow run of handleless units on the visible side of the island," continues Gail, "so that the look remains streamlined while providing extra storage for things like glasses, jugs, mugs and vases."
Islands can also be a brilliant space for people to gather in an informal way. In her own kitchen, Gail favours a large island and has put in comfortable bar stools for the whole family to gather around for meals. ‘It just feels more relaxed and sociable than sitting at a table,’ she says. In a small kitchen, there may not be enough room to add seating to an island, but a slim table with a rack for storage beneath can be a great solution instead.
You may be tempted to keep the design of the island very similar to the surrounding cabinets, but this can be an opportunity to be more playful. "I prefer to give an island a different treatment to the rest of the kitchen to save having acres of the same surface," says Rita Konig. "mine is painted a different colour and has a stainless-steel top instead of Corian. You might also choose to have an island higher than your counters to make using it more comfortable."
Gail agrees: "I often choose a different, tonal colour for the island than the rest of the kitchen units to give the island its own visual element," she says. "If the island is large enough, I combine two finishes for the worktops, too. If there is enough room for an overhang to pull bar stools up, I will use a different worktop to the main part of the island, combining wood with laminate or stone with stainless steel, for example."
Written by Virginia Clark.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK.