Cleverly break the scale down. Notice how the countertop slab is elevated slightly on stainless steel pins above the slab legs. This creates a zen-like, floating effect which gives the island some breathing space.
Recess the storage underneath the island on all sides. This also allows seating all the way around, similar to a table. Decorative turned legs at the corners complete the farm table look. A differing countertop material on the island also can also eliminate “material exhaustion” typical of most suburban kitchens.
Break down the boxy appearance of a typical island by adding trestle ends. Also, an island should be no deeper that 5′-0″. That’s as far as you can comfortable reach the center to clean.
Here, the island was designed with completely different material than the rest of kitchen cabinetry. The lacy industrial steel ends and dark cabinetry visually lighten the piece. Three light fixtures over the island (as opposed to one large one) keeps things appropriately proportional.
This island was not only built out of differing wood than the rest of the cabinetry but was designed to appear as a furnishing. By eliminating bulky-down-to-the-floor-storage, we were able to keep this island light in tone but still useful. Recessed bin drawers located under the counter pick up additional storage.
Create a one-of-a-kind focal point. This iron and wood island was commissioned by us and manufactured by the artisans at Herndon and Merry in Nashville. An inordinate knee space depth helps keep this large island from appearing too bulky.
The knee space in this island was eliminated, allowing the island to be a narrow depth. To accommodate casual seating, an antique table with dining height chairs and stools have been silhouetted against the backside of the wood fluted island. This club-like grouping is much more social and comfortable than being perched, diner-style, on tall bar stools.
Use a piece of furniture instead. Kitchens rarely have good furnishing potential so utilizing a found piece gives a kitchen a collected and eclectic character. After all, the original island is the well-worn farm table found in most English manor working kitchens. Return to the roots with a real piece of furniture – if it was good enough for the staff of Downton Abbey, it’ll be good enough for your crew.
If you have enough real estate, go with two islands. This works really well in situations where there are literally too many cooks in the kitchen. It also allows great circulation where one large island may serve as a roadblock.
Have a kitchen with only islands. This unique kitchen (located at the end of a large open salon) is only equipped with a pair of islands. These islands were designed with elevated wood fluted screens which shield the rest of the room from inevitable countertop clutter.
The best advice I can give is to edit, edit, edit your kitchen island needs. If you can unburden the poor kitchen island of some responsibilities (i.e. storage), it can become a simple, elegant element. The less program the island has, the better it will be. How many zesters do you really need anyway?
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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