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.

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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.