April 2, 2012

Our Love Affair with Kitchen Islands (Part 1 of a 4-Part series) Design Basics

Waypoint's style 630S in Maple Mocha Glaze

Islands are nothing new. In fact one could say that tables served as kitchen islands in the earliest of indoor kitchens. Even back in the ’60s ’70s and 1980s islands played an important part in kitchen design. When housingIsland shown in Waypoint's style 610D in Maple Mocha Glaze trends turned to open-concept living, walls disappeared, islands became larger and more complex. When that happened, it became important for islands to look as good as they worked. The backs of the islands got special treatment and overhead lighting was as decorative as it was functional.

However, as much as we love islands, not every kitchen is large enough to accommodate one. Take a look at these images provided by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). They show the minimum clearance guideline for single and multiple cook kitchens. Believe me, they are critical dimensions for a comfortable workspace.

NKBA aisleway guidelines for kitchens

The minimum recommended aisle way for a kitchen primarily used by a single cook at a time is 42". Image compliments NKBA

NKBA aisleway guideline for kitchens

When two or more cooks frequently work together, the aisle way should be 48". Image compliments of the NKBA.

Appliances installed in islands take up a surprising amount of space when proper clearances are provided. For an example, let’s look at an island where the primary sink is installed. For our example we’ll use a single bowl sink. Allowing 27” for the single bowl sink in a cabinet, 24” for a dishwasher, three inches for a panel to conceal the exposed side of the dishwasher and provide support for the countertop and finally add NKBA’s recommended 18” of clearance on the other side of the sink, the minimum width of this island would be a whopping 72”. Not every kitchen has room for an island that wide, especially when remodeling an older home. Sometimes a kitchen space can’t accommodate even a much smaller island. It’s all in the dimensions.

So, here we’ve discussed some basic island design considerations. In the next three weeks, I’ll be talking about several islands that I especially like. Each is packed with design ideas.

Connie Edwards CKD, CBD, Waypoint Living Spaces