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Trending Now: The Importance Of Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands are convenient for many reasons: they serve as an extra food prep area and they’re a perfect gathering spot for family members and friends. In fact, according to a recent Fixr survey, 92% of homeowners would like to have a kitchen island, and it’s no surprise why the industry is seeing more and more kitchen islands in remodel plans.

Another appeal to kitchen islands is the design portion. Nowadays, it’s common to see fun shapes and vibrant colors incorporated into kitchen islands. Plus, they’re a great way to add interest into a home.

Should you add a kitchen island into your remodel plans? Let’s learn more about the importance of kitchen islands and how you can design one to fit your needs.

The Increase in Popularity of Kitchen Islands

Long gone are the days where kitchen islands served as only being a prep area for cooking. In today’s world, these islands act as a replacement for breakfast nooks and kitchen tables. Not only that but these islands serve as an extra entertaining area as they are the perfect gathering spot for the cook and taste testers.

The increase in popularity also comes down to the endless style options. Homeowners view kitchen islands as a way to be bold and express their personality. Whether they get inspiration from a home renovation show or flipping through a design magazine, more people are willing to add their own flair with a kitchen island, mainly because it’s a way to separate themselves from everyone else.

Merillat Kitchen Island

But, why exactly are kitchen islands so important? They allow homeowners to take advantage of the kitchen work triangle. What’s that? Having a kitchen island in the right spot will maximize your cooking work center, sink/cleanup work center, and refrigeration. Basically, an island is the center of a kitchen’s room dynamics. Not only do kitchen islands serve as a way to personalize a kitchen but they also serve as a way to keep everything moving in a logical flow.

4 Benefits to a Kitchen Island

When designing a kitchen island, it’s important to think about functionality. Why are you investing in a kitchen island? What’s the main purpose?

Benefit #1: Adds More Storage Space

If you have inherited a smaller kitchen, you know the trouble associated with the lack of storage space. While storing those bigger pots and pans in your hall closet might work for now, a kitchen island can solve your problem.

Nowadays, kitchen islands can be designed with organizational drawers, pull out shelves, and cabinets. Think of it this way: your kitchen island is an extension of your current cabinet and storage situation, and you can be as creative with the storage space as possible.

Benefit #2: Gathering Spot for Kids

From the perfect spot to do homework to an area to help make dinner, kitchen islands will help to make your kids feel special while allowing you to keep a close eye on them. With kitchen islands, you can even include a cabinet filled with snacks so your kids can feel a sense of independence when reaching for that after school or weekend snack.

Benefit #3: Extra Seating for Parties

A kitchen island is a great place to act as an informal dining area. It will even give you more seating space when you host family gatherings and parties. Plus, creating a space for people to gather while you’re finishing some last minute meal prep will allow you to be productive and socialize at the same time. Keep this in mind: even if you have a smaller kitchen, the addition of 2 seats will greatly help when entertaining.

CorianSolidSurface_PebbleTerrazzo_Kitchen (1)

Benefit #4: Place for Additional Kitchen Accessories

Is your top-of-the-line espresso maker sitting in a cupboard collecting dust due to lack of counter space? Do you wish you had a larger stove? You dreams can come true with a kitchen island. Try adding a preparation sink or grill and your island quickly becomes the center hub of cooking. Even adding in open shelves to one side of the island will allow you to display trinkets and other smaller kitchen accessories. Let your kitchen island be a creative expression of you.

Kitchen Island Ideas and Trends

With more counter space and storage options, the sky is truly the limit. Designers have seen everything from tiny islands to big islands to movable islands. There are even different shaped islands you could incorporate into your space, such as t-shaped or round.

But regardless of size and shape, it’s safe to say that the biggest kitchen island trend is to be bold. For example, if your kitchen is filled with beautiful cherry wood cabinets, you can make a splash with your kitchen island by incorporating custom-painted cabinets. Adding in an orange, teal, or even red can make your space a bit more modern without being too flashy.

Island surfaces are another way to customize a kitchen island. Designers believe that there will be an increase in two-surface countertops. For example, in one kitchen, a homeowner could have beautiful Corian® Quartz countertops on the perimeter and have with their island surfacing material made of Michigan Maple Butcher Block. The contrast between the sparkling, smooth quartz and the natural wood of butcher block will create a unique space. These two different surfacing materials also distinguish the food prep area from the seating area. You could even incorporate these two surfacing materials on the same island.

One trend that’s definitely out is using kitchen islands for large appliances such as a dishwasher or oven, as there’s a bigger advantage to having those appliances on the perimeter (aka better access to electricity and water lines). Incorporating kitchen sinks into islands is still on-trend, and designers think it will be for years to come. Another appliance often seen in islands is the microwave, especially one that pulls out from a cabinet drawer.

Material Options for Kitchen Islands

What are some of the best material options for a kitchen island?

For starters, we recommend to choose materials that will not only complement the rest of your kitchen but are best suited to your island’s purpose.

For example, if your island will mainly be used as food prep either Corian® Quartz or Michigan Maple Butcher Block would make a good choice as both are stain-resistant and durable. If your island will be used as an informal eating or gather area, Corian® Solid Surface with its seamless appearance and bold color palette might be the material that’s best suited.

For another example, let’s say that you’re using your kitchen island for additional storage. There are plenty of cabinet lines that offer creative storage and organizational solutions, such as Merillat Cabinetry and Kountry Wood Products. From lazy Susan’s to a spice pull out to wine racks, the possibilities for storage solutions are truly endless.

Merillat Cabinet Organization

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember the kitchen island’s purpose and use that as the framework to finding the perfect materials and organizational accessories.

Other Items to Know About Kitchen Islands

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, it’s important to make sure you have enough space before you start buying material. How much space do you actually need? It’s recommended to have at least 36 inches of clearance on each side. If your island will be used as a prep area for cooking, that minimum should be increased to at least 42 inches per side.

If you do have a big enough kitchen for an island, let’s briefly talk about the cost. While the cost will vary based on materials, features, plumbing, and electrical, Fixr indicates that a 24 sq. ft. kitchen island with a sink and quartz countertop would cost around $4,500. That price is just an estimate. For exact pricing, you would need to work with a contractor to determine material costs and installation costs. Even if the price is steeper than you originally thought, the benefits of kitchen islands is well worth the investment, and can greatly add more value to your home.

Final Thoughts

With the variety of storage and design options, it’s really no surprise why an island is still one of the most popular items homeowners add to their list when remodeling their kitchen. If you’re in the beginning stages of a kitchen remodel, please feel free to stop by our showroom to tour over 16 different displays featuring cabinets and surfacing materials. You can also meet with one of our designers who can give you plenty of kitchen island advice. The H.J. Oldenkamp Company is located at 4850 Coolidge Hwy., Royal Oak, MI 48073.

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Understanding the Background Of Cabinet Construction

High quality cabinets should not only look gorgeous, but they should also be functional and built with top strength and durability. Unfortunately, sometimes we see poor cabinet construction.

The good news is that this can easily be avoided. Below, we’ve highlighted a basic overview of kitchen cabinet construction along with explaining some key terms to understand so you can choose the best cabinets.

Basic Cabinet Styles

The way a cabinet is built is dependent upon the manufacturer; however, all cabinets come in two different designs: framed or frameless. The biggest difference between the two comes down to the face frame.

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinetry

Face-framed cabinets (also known as framed cabinets) include wood pieces around the front outer edge of the cabinet, which ‘frame’ it (hence the name).
The design functionality behind framed cabinets is that it helps the entire cabinet to remain square and sturdy. Framed cabinets also offer a more classic look and are typically seen in American households. You can; however, get some variety and uniqueness with door overlay (we’ll get to that later on in this post).

Due to the cabinet construction, the inside portion of the frame will extend past the inside edges of the box causing some blockage with the cabinet opening.

Frameless cabinetry is also known as full access simply due to the fact that frameless cabinets offer greater accessibility by completely eliminating the face frame. This style is very popular in Europe; however, we are seeing this trend emerge here in the United States.

In the frameless cabinet construction process, flat panels of engineered wood (usually either particle board, plywood, or medium density fiberboard) are precisely constructed using dowels and glue.

  1. Frameless cabinetry offers these benefits over traditional framed cabinets.
  2. They have no center stile allowing for more room and storage.
  3. Due to more precise construction, frameless cabinets have a tighter fit with less gaps between doors and drawers.
  4. Usually the shelves are adjustable, so you can store that awkward sized box.
  5. They have a thicker box construction which increases the stability.
  6. Typically sizes include base cabinet manufacturing on 3-inch increments from 9-inches up to 48-inches.

 

frame vs. frameless cabinets

What Cabinet Design Should You Choose?

That answer is entirely up to you and what you’re looking to do with your space; however, we do have some quick tips for you:

Frameless Cabinetry

  • Sleeker look
  • Contemporary/European style
  • Provides full access to cabinet interior and drawers
  • Requires a more skilled installation

 

Framed Cabinetry

  • Traditional/American style
  • Face frame reinforces cabinet alignment
  • Easier to install

 

3 Common Cabinet Construction Elements & Methods

Similar to cabinet design styles, cabinet construction methods are left up to the manufacturer. In addition to knowing some key terms (which we’ve highlighted below), it’s important to know that cabinet construction can affect the level of quality, durability, and longevity of cabinets.

All About Overlays

Door overlay is defined as how much a cabinet door covers or overlaps the face frame. Cabinet doors can have three different overlays:

  1. Full Overlay refers to the doors and drawers covering the face frame entirely. Frameless cabinets typically come in full overlay. With a lower cost, full overlay cabinet doors provide the greatest amount of storage.
  2. Partial Overlay (Traditional) means the cabinet doors and drawers only partially cover the frame. This is the most common and least expensive option. Typically, the overlay will leave about 1 to 1 ¼-inch between doors and drawers.
  3. Full Inset is when cabinet doors and drawers are designed to fit within the face frame. On occasion, frameless lines will embody the full inset. This smooth and clean look will probably increase the cost of your cabinets and can, unfortunately, leave smaller storage spaces.

Other door details can include raised panel, which is when the center panel of the door is elevated. Recessed panel which is where the center panel is set in lower than the door frame.

Our designers also see slab door styles as being very popular. A slab door style is a solid, flat front door with no panel or face frame.

Dovetail Construction

This term has to do with joinery or how the various wood parts of a cabinet are joined together. While there are a few different methods, we often get asked about dovetail and why we recommend it.

Dovetail construction (or dovetail joints) is one of the strongest ways to join two boards together. Why? In incorporating dovetail, the ends of the two boards have v-shaped cutouts that fit in and correspond to the notches on the adjoining wood panel. They are interlocked together on right angles.

Dovetailo construction

Full vs. 3/4 Extension Drawers

We’ve been talking a lot about cabinets and doors, and now it’s time to give drawers some love.

When designing a new kitchen or remodeling an existing one, it’s important to think about functionality. This comes down to drawer details, specifically deciding on how far you want the drawers to extend out.

With a full drawer extension, you’ll be able to open drawers the full length of the slide. This allows for greater access, especially if you’re using this drawer to hold smaller items.

¾-drawer extension means the drawer slide will only come out three-quarters of the entire length, leaving part of the drawer in the cabinet. While it doesn’t provide as much access, it is a good economical option.

Cabinet Installation

To ensure that cabinets are properly installed, strong, durable, and will last for years, buying fully assembled cabinets that are assembled at the factory is the best route to go. In doing so, these cabinets will be built with industrial techniques that increases the strength of them. When shipped from the factory, the cabinet is a full unit with doors and drawers intact, and will be ready to install as soon as it arrives.

However, there is an alternative: ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets.

What are Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) Cabinets?

RTA cabinets have many benefits including:

  • All plywood construction
  • Nice finish and polished door profiles
  • Simple offering

If you do choose to go the RTA route, there are some items that you should know before ordering:

  • They are imported from overseas
  • Assembly is required, with an average assembly time of 20 minutes per cabinet
  • Replacement parts can be hard to order
  • If inventory is low, your order could take months to ship
  • Usually you have to pre-pay before they ship

Typical Cabinet Construction Sizes

In addition to the basic design elements of kitchen cabinet construction and installation, the other components to understand are the “building blocks”, or main components of cabinets.

Base Cabinets

These types of cabinets are mounted on the floor and help to support the countertops. Base cabinets usually come standard with a 24-inch depth.

A great example of using base cabinets in a unique and custom way is to incorporate them into a kitchen island.

kitchen island cabinets

Wall Cabinets

Like the name implies, wall cabinets are mounted directly to the wall and have no connection to the floor. These cabinets are usually located above countertops and ovens. The standard depth of wall cabinets are 12-inches. There is the possibility of a 24-inch depth but that applies to select appliance cabinetry only.

Vanity Cabinets

On a basic level, vanity (also known as tall or pantry) cabinets are tall versions of base cabinets. Vanity cabinets stand on the floor and can either be free-standing or connected to a wall or base cabinet. A typical vanity-sized cabinet either has a depth of 18-inches or 21-inches.

For all three cabinet types, the widths start at 9-inches and will max out at 60-inches. Of course, all typical cabinet sizes will vary by the cabinet manufacturer and SKU. We ask that you work with your contractor or builder to ensure that the right cabinet and size is ordered.

Making Your Cabinets Look Beautiful: The Finishing Process

The final stage in the cabinet construction process is finishing. Getting the desired look and feel of your cabinets depends upon the type of finish, wood type, and the cabinet maker’s capabilities. Fortunately, a lot of cabinet assembly plants have modern day technology which allows for a variety of finishes to be applied to cabinets.

Paint

One of the biggest trends right now for both kitchen and bathroom cabinets is paint. Why? Paint allows you to have a limitless color pallet. You also won’t be limited to the earth tones that you often see with common wood stains. For example, you can see how this kitchen incorporated yellow paint.

painted cabinets

Stain

Stains are a beautiful option if you love the natural look of wood. With a wood stain, a topical color treatment is applied. While it stains the outer layer of the wood, it will also bring out the natural grain pattern.

stain cabinets

Glaze

Contrary to stain, a glaze allows the surface detail to shine. Typically, a glaze is a pigmented coating that’s applied overtop a paint or stain. It’s often used to enhance the look of cabinets. This is a more manual process than other cabinet finishing types simply because the glaze is hand wiped off.

In reality, these are just a few finish options to choose from. We recommend that you work with your builder, distributor, or cabinet company directly to see the variety of finish options offered in your door style.

Partnering With The Best

Here at H.J. Oldenkamp, we are proud to offer the nation’s most popular cabinet lines which include:
Merillat: Masterpiece & Classic
Mid Continent Cabinetry
Vista Cabinetry
Fabuwood
QualityCabinets & Woodstar
Kountry Wood Products

From our semi-custom cabinetry to value series, we offer a cabinet line that will fit your needs and budget. Plus, most of our cabinet lines offer a variety of door styles, accessories, and storage options – everything you need to create your dream space.

If you have any questions about cabinet construction or our cabinet lines, please feel free to call our team today at 800-462-6047 and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions.

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