The kitchen island: It’s not just another pretty countertop atop a few extra cabinets. It’s a multitasker, a chameleon, and in some cases, a work of art. It can serve as storage place, work station, eating area, and social hub. That’s why it’s become the modern-day must-have in kitchen design.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a big kitchen in order to accommodate an island. Kitchen islands come pre-made in all shapes in sizes, and even small ones can add important functionality to your space. Islands can also be created from other pieces of furniture, so you’re really not locked into a handful of standard sizes. (All it takes is a quick look on Pinterest to see how an old antique dresser or console table repurposed as an island can be a beautiful thing.)
If you’re thinking about adding or changing an island in your kitchen, here are a few off-the-beaten-path but really helpful features to consider incorporating:
Unconventional materials for the base. You could stick with the same wood that’s used throughout the rest of your kitchen, but you definitely don’t have to. How about brick, stacked stone, or concrete? Particularly if you have an open floor plan in which the island rides the dividing line between the kitchen and other rooms, the island’s base can be used to help tie together their different designs, like so:
Multi-surface countertops. Your island isn’t a one-trick pony. Maybe it needs more than one kind of countertop surface—one type for the rough and tumble of kitchen work, and another type for dining. Done professionally, it doesn’t look strange. On the contrary, it adds texture and visual interest to the room.
Make a Place for U. If you have the room for it, a U-shaped island is really helpful for smoothing out traffic flow in the kitchen. Having physical space carved out for the person doing hands-on cooking work at the island means said cook doesn’t have to fight with kitchen traffic. A happy chef equals better eating!
Want to get really crazy? Check out the island fun you can have with the Microsoft Home Kitchen. Text and pictures—think recipes, for example—can be beamed directly onto the counter-top using projection displays. Sound over-the-top? This could easily become a standard feature in the average kitchen of the future, if you just think for a minute about the example of the microwave oven. That undoubtedly sounded wildly futuristic once upon a time, too.