With contemporary lifestyles meaning more entertaining from home, forward-facing kitchen islands with integrated seating make staying in the new going out. But what makes the perfect kitchen island?

N Elle by Cesar

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

N Elle by Cesar

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Now that open-plan living has freed the kitchen from its traditional closed-off position and introduced it into a more expansive and sociable free-flowing area, home designers are able to integrate cooking, dining and socialising space with multi-functional kitchen islands. Here are the key points to consider when creating the perfect kitchen island.

Size and shape

Firstly, is the space big enough? It may seem like the functional answer to all storage and countertop needs, but if there’s too little space to move around comfortably, it won’t work. Kitchen islands require around 1.2 m of free space on all sides, with a minimum size of 1 m x 1.2 m.

Filó by Euromobil

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Filó by Euromobil

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Small kitchen spaces

Even if there’s not enough space for an additional island, you may consider doing away with the wall-connected counters, altogether. By positioning this Filó kitchen island from Euromobil alongside slimmer shelving with no counter, the kitchen becomes bathed in space.

Extra-large kitchen spaces

Alternatively, if the project has space to spare, kitchen islands with long straight breakfast bars can feel like cocktail bars, like the height-adjustable worktop in the k7 island from TEAM7. If one long island blocks out too much space, however, doubling them creates more usable counter space and a T-shaped galley effect, keeping everything a few steps away, as shown by this Double Island example from Arclinea.

k7 island by TEAM7

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

k7 island by TEAM7

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Functionality

By integrating elements such as a sink, hob or food-prep space into the kitchen island, users are able to socialise with comfortably-seated guests while they prepare meals and refreshments.

Breakfast bar

Bringing cooks and guests closer together, breakfast bars are one of the most popular elements of kitchen islands. They can be as simple as an extended continuation of the worktop, hanging over stool storage. Or they can be separated in a split-level, multi-material format like the Lain Multisystem by Euromobil. Along with entertaining, breakfast bars bring advantages to home lifestyles too, allowing parents, for example, to continue cooking while keeping a close eye on eating children.

Lain Multisystem by Euromobil

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Lain Multisystem by Euromobil

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Home offices

You’re going to want to use electrical appliances at the kitchen island, so it will need power outlets. Combining the dining table element of a breakfast bar with power outlets, along with proximity to the kettle, makes kitchen islands like the Mediterranean System by SCIC, with its connected table at a lower height, surprisingly suitable locations for home offices.

Mediterranean System by SCIC

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Mediterranean System by SCIC

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Show-stopping design

As the kitchen’s centrepiece, the eye is immediately drawn in to the kitchen island. While some choose to easily identify the island as kitchen space by blending it with the rest of the worktops and cabinetry, it’s also possible to highlight it with accent colours, materials and accessories

Contrasting kitchen islands

The vibrant yellow of the Artematica Vitrum kitchen by Valuccine provides a pop of colour within its dark landscape, while the texture of the grey porcelain used in Euromobil’s Telero also sets the island apart from the rest of the kitchen.

Artematica Vitrum by Valuccine

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Artematica Vitrum by Valuccine

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Strikingly minimalist kitchen islands can be created with the inclusion of flush appliances such as V-Zug’s extractor range or Teppan Yaki cooking plates. Alternatively, visual intrigue can be created by positioning statement appliances like Olympia Express’s Maximatic espresso machine to the kitchen island’s cityscape.

Teppan Yaki cooking plate by V-Zug

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Teppan Yaki cooking plate by V-Zug

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Island walls

With the underside of kitchen islands featuring either storage or seating, the edges are often blank canvases on which to project a user’s personality.

The counter itself can fold down to create a striking waterfall worktop, especially stunning here in Cesar’s N_Elle kitchen island in dark marble. Alternatively, the counter can overhang free space on two or three sides, for an L- or even U-shaped breakfast bar, such as the Monolite kitchen island does, by SCIC. Or, the edge can be used as segregated storage, as seen here with Sintesi.30 by Comprex. Perfect for keeping favourite cookbooks within easy reach.

Sintesi.30 by Comprex

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Sintesi.30 by Comprex

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Kitchen island storage

Kitchen islands provide a useful extension to storage as well as working space, but be careful, the island’s specific functions can often dictate the storage needs. If there is an integrated sink, for example, it’s useful to include a dishwasher and refuse storage nearby. While easily accessible metalware and utensils are a local necessity for island hobs.

Open storage

If the far side of the kitchen island faces a separate dining table, it’s the perfect location for easily accessible table fodder such as ceramics, napkins and cutlery. Using open storage showcases these vintage collections to provide a decorative element while remaining functional. Meanwhile, open storage can also create a natural partition to separate the rest of the open-plan space, as shown here by the Maxima 2.2 kitchen by Cesar.

Maxima 2.2 by Cesar

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Maxima 2.2 by Cesar

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Above island storage

By installing a hung shelf, as Dada has with its Hi-Line 6 island, essential ingredients, metalware and glassware can be stored above preparation space, hobs and

Hi-Line 6 island by Dada

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

Hi-Line 6 island by Dada

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Kitchen island lighting

With a mixture of possible activities from cooking and eating to working and socialising, the kitchen island’s lightscape must include flexible combinations of lights for multiple purposes.

SLX Pure by SieMatic

How to design a stunning and functional kitchen island | News

SLX Pure by SieMatic

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Linear lights, such as this one lighting the SLX Pure kitchen island by SieMatic, or singular pendants spread out in regimented order, provide the right combination of accent light. While ceiling-recessed spots can give an ambient balance or an accent for ceiling-hung storage.

© Architonic

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