Like an islands location, its shape is often determined by the surrounding area. In enclosed rooms, the basic rectangle is the most popular shape. In open layouts, angular islands – L, Y or V shapes can act as boundaries to delineate the kitchen without closing it in.
While these designs cost more to build, they offer more room for appliances, shelves, drawers, wine racks, towel bars, pullout bins and other amenities. Although most kitchen islands are rectangular, you may want to experiment with other shapes to see if they would work better with the shape of your kitchen. Round, semicircular and even kidney-shaped islands can be very attractive, but be aware that they’re tricky to design and expensive to build.
If you do choose a curved design, consider using a rectangular base cabinet and getting creative with just the countertop – curved countertops are generally far less expensive than curved cabinets. Finally remember that you can use the space above the island, as long as you don’t obstruct the sight lines with solid cabinets.
Common overhead additions include pot racks, vent hoods and pendant lighting. Once you have an idea of the size and shape that would work best, create an outline of the proposed island on the floor with strips of tape. (Painters tape works best; it’s wide and dark and peels up easily:) Leave the tape in place for a few days, shifting it around until ou recognise and resolve a traffic pattern problems.
Taking form an island is basically a countertop supported by cabinets. If you require a non-standard cabinet size, you may need a custom-built base, but otherwise you can economise by using stock cabinets.
Cabinet manufacturers offer specialized units designed for islands, but you can adapt standard base units for that purpose, as well. Island cabinets used to be carefully matched to the style and finish of the other kitchen cabinets, but today there’s a growing trend to dress them up as distinct pieces of furniture, using moldings, trims, brackets and decorative feet.
The idea is to make the island look like a one – of – a – kind piece. Since all four sides of the island will be visible, buy cabinets that have finished sides, or face any unfin- ished surfaces with a matching plywood skin – a thin sheet of finished plywood. Stock base cabinets come in 3-in. wide increments, starting at 9 in.
You can mix and match the units to get the dimensions you’re looking for, but installation will be easier if you select one or two larger units, rather than many smaller ones. Standard base cabinets are 24 in. deep, and you can install them back-to-back to create an island that’s 48 in. deep. Other options include using deeper base cabinets or backing a standard base unit with a 12-in. deep wall cabinet, for a 36-in. depth. If the island will link the kitchen and the family room and you’re planning to put cabinets or shelves on the family room side, be sure to take into account the dimensions of any electronic equipment that will go into the units.
Topping it Off
Although standard countertops are 36 in. high, that doesn’t necessarily dictate the height of your island. For example, breakfast bars are typically 42 in. high, table – height counters are usually about 30 in. high and baking centers should be lowered to a level that’s comfortable for the cook. Consider the possibilities of an island that has more than one surface level.
A breakfast bar or table-height extension on your island can double as an informal eat- ing area and a serving counter. ln addition to providing a place to eat the meal as well as cook it, a two-tier island can be a great way to screen off any cooking mess from adjacent rooms – the higher eating level hides the lower work level. For more information on breakfast bars and table – height extensions. When it comes to countertop material for an island, most people choose to match the material used for the existing countertops in the room.
However, this isn’t always possible, or even desirable, if the surface is intended for a specific use. For example, marble is great for baking areas but is a poor choice for a cutting surface.
Putting it to Work
If you’re adding a sink, cooktop or electrical outlet to the island, you”ll need to consider your local building codes and what you’re building on. lf the floor lies over a concrete slab, plumbing and wiring will be difficult, at best. On the other hand, if there’s a basement or crawlspace under the floor-particularly if the floor joists are running the right direction-you should have plenty of room to work.