Kitchen Islands: obvious (or not?) pros and cons

Think of a typical American TV series house: several newly-furnished bedrooms, at least two bathrooms, some closets, a living room, and of course, a kitchen with a kitchen island. This general-middle-class image of a ‘prestigious kitchen’ has been ingrained in our collective consciousness for many years. The classic kitchen with a massive island installed, high ceilings, and natural light has become a dream of several generations of house and flat owners. The island in such a kitchen serves not only as the working surface but also as the dining table. Next to it are high bar stools, on which it is very convenient to sit, and the tabletop specifically protrudes forward so that you can place your feet most comfortably.

Seeing successful and good-looking characters laughing, spending nightly hours, throwing tantrums, and even making love in their trendy, neat, and (more importantly) convenient kitchen spaces inspired people to opt for a similar design for their own kitchens.

But can we chalk ‘kitchen island fashion’ up to just the impact of media? A+ Construction & Remodeling will help you to find the answer to this question.

What are the origins of kitchen islands?

Despite our thinking that kitchen islands are a relatively modern trend, the truth is a bit more complicated. In the 19th century, the majority of kitchens in private households (manors and mansions), being relatively more spacious than an average kitchen of that period, had the first islands built in. The decision actually had pretty solid reasoning. First of all, wealthy households used to hire dozens of kitchen staff (including a chef), so the space was supposed to be rearranged in a specific manner. A recently introduced kitchen island allowed to provide enough working space for everyone to ‘operate’ on. Not interfering with each other, cooks managed to save up their time and provide better service for their employers and their guests. Secondly, a kitchen island was relatively cheap to construct in comparison to other methods of space arrangement. No matter how fortunate, property owners were not aching to spend too much money on a space they would probably never visit since it was considered 'improper'.

Today, this type of kitchen arrangement can be found even in kitchens with pretty tight layouts. People still appreciate these models of kitchen sets for their functionality and utility. Being initially developed and implemented for professional purposes, they have won the general audience’s approval. Some would argue that a kitchen island is an essential element of house remodeling! We, at A+ Construction & Remodeling, would quite agree.

Specificities of a kitchen island

The multifunctional tabletop is located in the center of the kitchen and is utilized not only for cooking but also for having a cup of tea or a glass of wine with your guests, be they friends or family. This ‘autonomous’ state and relative isolation from other tops and spaces made people call such a table an ‘island’. The individual module is not connected to the overall kitchen set but is performed in a similar style, manner, and color range.

Often an island serves as a place to put décor elements on it: that can be a vase with flowers, tea sets, or a selection of dishes. According to statistics, more than 70% of modern kitchen models have an included island in their plan. It can be mounted on legs, a monolithic tripod, or be manufactured as a single module. Despite the fact that a kitchen island is a piece of furniture and should, in theory, reduce the useful area, it, on the contrary, allows to zone the space and visually expand the room. The person, seeing an island in the center of the kitchen, subconsciously understands that the space is large. This is one of the undeniable merits of such a decision.

Functions of a kitchen island

An island may serve in several different ways. Prior to purchasing one, consider which of them would be game changers for you personally.

Among the most obvious options we can find the following:

  • ‘Additional storage for kitchen utensils and other frequently used items. Compartments and boxes, which can be installed secretly, often take up too much space which can be problematic. However, your kitchen island can accommodate a significant number of utensils and appliances. There you can place stored vegetables and fruits as well as containers and boxes of cereals. Some designers organically integrate household appliances into the island, thus releasing a significant amount of space in the kitchen set.
  • ‘Serving as a bar reckon’. A large number of options and combinations of metal and wood allow you to implement any idea even in a relatively small kitchen. Bar stools and hanging elements for glasses, and the glasses, as well,  create a feeling of presence in a real bar. Such solutions are very popular among young people.
  • ‘The working triangle’. With utilities arranged around the island, you can place there a cutting surface, sink, and built-in cooker panel, thus turning your kitchen island into a full-fledged working area. Sounds kind of professional, doesn't it?
  • Bold yet practical ideas and the combination of non-standard solutions make it possible to install a separate module of a kitchen set as a highly functional place: serving as a work area and as a ‘wind down and relax' corner.

The pros: your personal kitchen island

Purchasing a kitchen island is a significant step. Not to get disappointed in the decision you made, consider the pros of having a kitchen island.

As for the pros, one can find there the following factors:

  • Kitchen islands are not just efficient but also attractive, glamorous, and eye-catching. They can often be found in fashion magazines, and remember our passage about the island in popular TV series and movies! It would be a perfect solution if you dream about a kitchen like the one Carrie Bradshaw from ‘Sex and the City’ or Gaby Solis from ‘Desperate Housewives’. This is a luxurious photo zone that is also functional. Yet, one should also remember that an island submits to the rest of the kitchen set (not the other way around).
  • A professionally planned kitchen island allows to expand the working space and make it a more usable area: statistically, the increase is up to 30-40%. Now you can indulge yourself in any kitchen experiments no matter how big they are!
  • The total area of the countertop island can be divided into a working area and a relaxing area which makes a kitchen island a multitasking space. Consider some technical advances. For instance, a bar rack, a cabin for card games, and a built-in refrigerator would provide you with a wider range of spare time opportunities compatible with the kitchen area.
  • An island, as an addition, makes your kitchen more harmoniously arranged in terms of its design. The island allows you to ergonomically organize work for daily kitchen routines and activities, reduce unproductive loss of power and time, and optimally arrange utensils, containers, and tools.
  • You can cook together. The extra workspace allows far more than one person to be in the kitchen and prepare or have dinner simultaneously. It is convenient for those who like to host guests or often cook together. Since many families complain that gathering every family member is next to impossible, a kitchen island will provide you with an additional opportunity to finally have a cozy family reunion.

A few Downsides

And yet nothing is perfect under the moon. Such a useful furniture type as a kitchen island can be rather awkward and clumsy for one’s interior. Before investing in a kitchen island, do not hesitate to reconsider your decision, taking into account the pros of it.

We would like to help you with that by providing some info. So, in the list of kitchen island cons one can find the following:

  • It might not be suitable for a small kitchen. To install an island, you need a spacious layout. Sometimes one, in order to acquire a kitchen island, has to tear down the walls and combine the kitchen with the living room. But such changes can not always be agreed upon by your local authorities. When installing the kitchen island you need to focus on the width of the aisles, which remains between all the furniture items. If you make the distance smaller, there will be problems with the functionality of the kitchen. It will be uncomfortable and inconvenient to move the drawers, open the doors, and use the equipment. Special attention should be paid to those locations that are particularly frequently used. For example, if you open a refrigerator, an oven, or a dishwasher – installing a kitchen island should not be the reason for blocking all passages through the kitchen.
  • It is difficult to provide access to utilities. A washing and cooking surface (on the island), as well as a hood (above it), are quite often installed as essential premises. To do this, you need to provide electricity and water flow and make additional outlets. Such manipulation cannot be performed in certain types of flats. Also, one must consider how to repair the utilities in case of an emergency. There is no point in installing a kitchen island if you are not able to maintain it. And beware that repairing the utilities can be rather expensive.
  • While some people will like the zoning advantages that the island may offer, it may disrupt your workflow, depending on your lifestyle. That is why you must evaluate your daily routine to assess whether the island will benefit you or not. To begin with, you have to make a decision about where you would be able to place such appliances as a stove, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a dishwasher, and a wine cabinet (if you need one, of course). Will the island interfere when you move from one device to another? Or will it provide a convenient relaxing space? The choice is all yours.

Well, perhaps the last (but not the least) con is the considerable cost of such a design. For sure, the price can vary depending on the design features, filling, and selected materials. However, do not expect it to be low by any means. Just remember that some people have to get a loan in order to purchase a kitchen island.

Kitchen island: to buy or not to buy?

Another not mentioned advantage of kitchen islands is that they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Prior to making a decision, remember that a kitchen island does not have to be a typical square monolith: it can be L-shaped, U-shaped, etc. The height of the island is usually the same as that of other working surfaces of the kitchen, so cooking there is convenient. As for length and width, it is selected individually, but with some requirements.

As for design, it completely depends on your personal taste and budget. Do you want a simple kitchen island combining practical qualities and a modern design? There is no better idea than a cubic style decorated with bright decorative elements! You are a minimalist? Then a simple birch or oak kitchen island with fewer decorations would suit you the best. In case you are looking for something unique and unusual, it might be wise to consult with a professional designer.

Good cooking is great. But to enjoy a full meal, you need the right conditions. Specifically, a place where even a regular breakfast feels like a dinner party. It is in your power to arrange such a space. Whether you choose to zone the place with a kitchen island or opt for a classier option – we would gladly help you with re-arranging and remodeling your kitchen! A+ Construction & Remodeling is a trustworthy agency experienced in installing kitchen islands of the best construction and quality. Do not even hesitate to apply for our services right away!