How to Design a Kitchen Island

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Kitchen islands have been popular in kitchen design for the past 20 years, because they are so practical, and can be so attractive. Whatever your style, you can design an island to visually enhance your space while incorporating your needs. When updating your kitchen, there are few things you can do to add to your home's ultimate resale value, like a kitchen island.

Things You'll Need

  • a good floor plan of your existing kitchen
  • a new plan of your new kitchen
  • Square Footage:

    Measure out your kitchen, and allow at least three feet from your cabinets to where you would like your island to begin. This is a minimum. A preferred distance is actually four feet.

  • Function:

    Once you have your dimensions for the island, decide what the function of the island will be. Will you house a microwave inside the island? Studies show that below-counter microwaves are really a lot safer than above-counter microwaves because of the danger of spilling when removing hot objects from above. Will this be a 'baking center' with a marble or granite top, or will this be a warm family gathering place? Is this an island with a sink in it? Will this be a prep sink or the main sink?

    New appliance designs, such as Sub Zero refrigerator or freezer drawers, can be conveniently tucked into any area, including a kitchen island. Just make sure you have clearance for opening and closing doors.

  • Fitted, or Unfitted:

    Gone are the days when everything in a kitchen had to match. Today, kitchens often sport an island that is an accent to the surrounding cabinetry. Before you decide on what you want, consider the fitted, or unfitted kitchen look. A fitted kitchen is the traditional American kitchen in which cabinets are built in. The unfitted kitchen is an eclectic look that appears to be cabinetry that has accumulated over time. An island in an unfitted kitchen can appear to be anything from a farm table with drawers, to a full-on cabinet/dishwasher/extra oven laden piece of furniture.

  • In an Existing Space:

    If you're thinking of adding an island to an existing kitchen, it would behoove you to cut an outline of the entire finished island design on large sheets of brown paper, and lay it on the floor of your kitchen. This will allow you to walk around it and see how it feels, size wise. Because the island is a mere idea at this point, you can tweak it until it's right for your kitchen.

  • As Seen From Another Area:

    Islands are often the focal point of a kitchen, and because of the way homes are designed today, islands are often seen from other rooms. Sometimes it's best to raise one area of the island so that kitchen prep mess is not seen from another space. Often commercial 'open kitchens' in restaurants do this, so that there are levels of prep area behind the bar. You can still see everything that's going on in the kitchen, but below where the guests sit, the prep area is obscured.

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