Island hopping

Is there anything more coveted in a kitchen than a great kitchen island?

Image courtesy of House Beautiful

If there is, I haven’t found it yet.

Kitchen islands can tackle all sorts of needs in a kitchen and the combinations of options is endless. The most common reasons I’ve found people want an island of their own are:

  • More counter space
  • Food storage
  • Cookware storage
  • Eating area
  • Entertaining space
  • Flexibility of placement in kitchen

An installed kitchen island, like the one pictured above or those with plumbing or heating hook-ups, can cost you thousands (and thousands) of dollars, depending on how elaborate you want to make it.

However, there are many other budget-friendly free-standing options available today. The one question that must always be solved though, regardless of your style or type of kitchen is:

Will it fit?

When you are planning a kitchen renovation of the big kind, such as replacing all your cabinets and countertops, you must discuss your plans with a professional kitchen planner. There are just too many measurement combinations to know if you have the proper clearance for getting around a kitchen.

However, in the case of a simple, free-standing, kitchen island there is one measurement you have to know: 42 inches.  The perimeter of any island must be a minimum of 42 inches from any other cabinet or appliance. However, you may find you need more space depending on your cabinet configuration and appliance doors.

Image courtesy of Canadian House & Home

I recommend measuring out 42 inches from your counters and appliances and taping the remaining central area on the floor with painters tape. Then, you can walk around the space, open cabinet doors, have two people pass each other by the counters, etc. and see if 42 inches is really enough clearance for your kitchen.

Once you have figured out the dimensions that work for your kitchen, you can shop for a free-standing island with confidence.

Island selection

Linked below are some great free-standing kitchen island designs. Just click on the picture to link to more measurement and feature details from the manufacturer. There are so many models to choose from out there, the biggest problem may be choosing which one you like more!

This island looks like a more expensive installed island, with its turned legs and tapered feet. The butcher block countertop also includes two drop leaves which could be used for additional work space or casual dining.

If you prefer more modern finishes in your kitchen, consider this sleek and minimal beauty from Ikea. With plenty of storage, this stainless steel island is durable and easy to clean.

This island, in a classic oak finish, also looks like a pricier installed island. Featuring lots of storage and a fold down breakfast bar, this island would make entertaining in your kitchen easy.

This modern island has three big drawers for storage and can be moved to anywhere you need it in your kitchen. I like the modern lines and stainless steel finishes. You can even order matching stools to go with the island.

With dozens of color and wood finish options, this island would shine in any kitchen with an older style. The surface area of this piece is a massive 6 feet by 30 inches. That’s plenty of space to make a whole assembly line for holiday baking.

Short on space in the middle of your kitchen? This island could turn your small kitchen into an eat-in kitchen without taking up space with chairs or stools. Plus you get a nice stretch of extra counter space.

Few things make a kitchen feel more sophisticated than a nice piece of dark furniture. The island includes some elegant display shelving for your large serving ware, just like you see in all the current home design magazines.

Hello, wine lovers! This island has plenty of storage for your wine and wine glasses. With a little sanding and paint, you could even change the color of this island and make it fit your exacting tastes.

Who says an island has to be square? At only 36 inches in diameter, this little gem can be used to break up all of that rectangular surface space in your kitchen. It comes in cream (shown above) and a gorgeous black.

Okay, confession time. This was my absolute favorite find when I was pulling these sources for you guys. It had me at “granite counter top”. I love the antique-y feel with subtle casters. Love the two deep drawers and the two shallow drawers. Love the slatted shelves that would hold anything, including wine. Love that we could take this show-stopper with us if we moved. In fact, I love everything about this island, including the price.

Now it’s your turn: Have you dreamed of doing a little island hopping of your own? Do you have an island in your kitchen? What is your most common use for it?  Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!

Posted on June 17, 2011, in Furniture. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I used to have an island that had the stove top in it, and this weird electric barbecue grill thing that we switched out for two electric burners. Since the stove was in the middle of the island, it felt like there wasn’t enough counter space for food prep.

    We just moved and I’m looking to replace the rickety island that we inherited. I love the look of all of these islands with space to lay out baking ingredients or pull up a stool and eat. I also like the flexibility of being able to move it around when you need to for any reason. Thanks for all the great ideas.

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