Any chef can attest to the indispensable utility provided by a kitchen island: it serves as a work-space, an intimate dining surface, and as a landing point for incoming groceries.
With the advent of small space living and open plan concepts, kitchen islands are less often confined within the walls of the cooking gallery – so to provide you with some inspiration and help you keep up with the Joneses, we sought out the most popular uses of kitchen islands that will likely redefine the norms we expect of future kitchens.
1. The Beverage Bar
By far the most common use of kitchen islands can be observed in the beverage corners of larger homes. As ready-made bar surfaces can be difficult to come by without the expertise of a carpenter, kitchen islands are often made to accommodate bar stools by narrowing the width and raising the height of the countertop beyond typical dining surfaces. The bar’s design can be made to match adjacent counters and cabinets by modifying a kitchen island rather than searching for a purpose-built fixture.
2. Decorative Features
Expanding beyond the utilitarian role of a culinary work space, kitchen islands have often been spotted being used as central decorative features. These decorative islands enable a greater degree of freedom in their design, as they can be composed of stark rectangles to suit a contemporary aesthetic, or irregular angles for more eclectic tastes.
The functionality of these decorative islands can be expanded when fitted with discrete shelving on the operative side, or with additional lighting hidden in recesses to bolster the ambiance.
3. Dining Surfaces
Some kitchen islands have been topped with wider surfaces, providing room for conventional dining with some chairs of appropriate height. These arrangements are best suited for smaller homes, where the incorporation of a dining area into the kitchen frees up additional space for other functions.
4. Dining Extensions
In spaces large enough to accommodate a dining table, kitchen islands have been seen being used to extend dining surfaces and to provide room for serving beverages or large dishes during gatherings. In addition to providing additional space for entertaining guests, these dining table extensions act as a form of physical separation that help to define the border between dining area and dry kitchen.
5. Teppanyaki Dining
Taking the role of dining surface a step further, we have seen kitchen islands accommodating Teppanyaki-styled arrangements in larger kitchens. These kitchen islands incorporate a grill or stove-top in the centre of the island, and with the accompaniment of bar stools or dining chairs to match the height of the counter, a meal can be served under the direct supervision of the chef.
6. Retractable Utility
In some small kitchens, kitchen islands have been reduced to their simplest forms and made retractable to provide the option of additional work space with the benefit of a stowable design. With the inclusion of a few stackable stools or dining chairs, the retractable work surface can be turned into an intimate breakfast nook without permanently sacrificing floor space.
7. Mobile Versatility
When you have a compact kitchen and lack countertop space, a mobile island unit or kitchen trolley is a great idea. Apart from giving you extra worktop space, a movable island also offers more storage areas, for example additional drawers, pull out shelves, and cabinets. You can also install recycling or trash bins underneath your mobile island to reduce visual clutter in the kitchen.