09 December 2008


Aruba. Bermuda. Barbados. Microwaves and wine chillers. Wait, what??? Yes, it's island season, that time of year when your thoughts turn to holiday entertaining and holiday escapes.

Maybe you're looking for an escape from an over-crowded kitchen, too. Will adding an island provide an idyll for this hardest-working room in your house? Let's consider the possibility.

Last week, you read ISLAND FEVER I: SIZING UP YOUR OPTIONS, and determined that you can make an island work and that you're going to make the investment. You also determined how you want that space to function. After proper sizing, function planning is the most important aspect to making an island pay off for you.


In Island Fever I, I mentioned the following reasons for adding an island to your kitchen:

* Increase your kitchen storage
* Add an additional work zone
* Add a specialty function - e.g., baking center
* Facilitate a Kosher lifestyle
* Add an entertaining center

Read no further before you decide what role your island will play in your kitchen improvement. Any one of them is fine - you can even come up with something else on your own - you just need to define its job before you proceed.


If increasing your storage capacity is your primary goal, determine what will "live" in that space and how best to access it. For example:

* Your existing drawers are overflowing: A trio of four-drawer banks, each with built-in organizers, tame the clutter.

* You just got married and need room for your beloved's cast iron skillet collection, your Calphalon set and your wedding registry's All-Clad: You opt for base cabinets with roll-out trays in each, and a ceiling-mounted pot rack for the ones you use most often.

* You got a juicer to get healthy and need space to store it, along with all the fruits and vegetables you're going to blend: One base cabinet with a built-in knife holder drawer and roll-out trays for the juicer's accessories, one with a lift for the heavy juicer itself and a dual drawer under-counter refrigerator for the fruits and vegetables you'll be juicing.


What tasks does that work zone need to perform. Will it cook? Clean up? Prepare meals? Re-heat? A well-equipped work zone will encompass strategic appliances, appropriate counter top material and well-appointed storage, (as shown in the juice-making example, above). Here are two examples:

* Your island clean up station has a deep sink, garbage disposal and pull-out faucet, a dishwasher and pull out dual trash bins for garbage and recycling. The cabinet holding the sink has a rack for your cleaning supplies. A narrow, open cabinet next to that features a pull-out rack for your dish towels. If space allows, you also have a divided, deep drawer bank for your Tupperware collection, so that left-overs can be conveniently gathered and sealed.

* Your island cooking station is equipped with an induction cooktop, countertop-mounted pot filler, convection-steam oven, (my December '08 Gold Nugget Award winner), ceiling-mounted ventilation hood and warming drawer - everything you need to get dinner on the table, at whatever time everyone eats. It also includes a base cabinet with top drawer organizer and roll-out trays to keep your cooking essentials at hand.

Both of these work stations feature quartz countertops for durability and easy maintenance. Despite their well-respected heat resistance, you keep a trivet nearby for hot pots and pans if all of your induction burners are occupied.


These are always fun to plan, because they cater to the homeowner's passions and bring together the client's inspirations and designer's knowledge in a true partnership. Here are two examples:

* The island baking center has a convection-steam oven, base mixer stand cabinet, tray base for cookie sheets and three-drawer base with top drawer organizers to separate measuring spoons from whisks and whisks from spatulas and dividers below to hold your measuring cups, mixing bowls and other baking favorites. You also opted for a non-porous, engineered stone countertop for rolling your dough and easy clean-up afterward.

* The entertaining center features U-Line's ice maker/fridge/freezer, which I featured in my Multi-Taskers posting last summer, and a dual-zone wine captain. It also includes a bar sink and a three-drawer bank for accessories like wine charms, corkscrews and bottle openers (above) and deep divided drawers for non-refrigerated bottles below. If desired, shallow storage on the back allows for a raised standing bar and spot for serveware. If seating is preferred, factor in serveware storage in a more accessible spot. A decorative glass top, like those from ThinkGlass, offers a splashy focal point for an entertainment center island. It also offers easy clean-up. Handsome focal point alternatives could be wood or concrete. Unlike glass slab, both require some maintenance to preserve their integrity and beauty.


An island gives you a great opportunity to upgrade your kitchen and even add some much-needed style to a dated space. However, since the island and the rest of your appliances and cabinetry share the same visual space, you're best served by coordinating looks, not clashing.

Here are a few tips for the most common builder kitchens I've encountered:

* Let's say your kitchen has golden oak cabinets, dark green laminate countertops, dark tan floor tiles and black appliances. Your island can feature dark green or black painted cabinets and paneled appliances in a similar door style. The dark green cabinets would look great with black tops, and vice versa. Select hardware for your island and add it to the cabinets on the periphery. If the island features a prep sink, choose a bar faucet and a companion main faucet to replace your existing one.

* Let's say your kitchen has white laminate cabinets, white appliances and a light, flecked laminate countertop. Your floors are a beige tile. Choose one of the accent colors in the laminate flecked top, (e.g., light blue or light green) and opt for painted cabinets in that color. Choose a light, solid-color top and paneled appliances.

* Let's say your kitchen has faux walnut cabinets, almond appliances, beige tile tops and floors. If your budget doesn't allow for tearing it all out, replace all your appliances with stainless ones to add some brightness; choose painted black island cabinets to tie into the darker tones in the walnut-grained ones surrounding it, (and coordinate with future replacements), and opt for a solid-toned cream-colored slab countertop. Update all the hardware and faucets with stainless, as well, for more shine. A nifty - extremely durable - sink to consider is one of Blanco's Silgranit models in its handsome Café Brown. It'll tie in with your existing brown cabinets and remind you of how far you've come when you finally replace them!


Adding an installed island to your kitchen is likely to invoke local code issues. Be sure to engage a local professional to ensure that your island is properly wired, plumbed, equipped, sized and planned. This will provide you and future homeowners with a safe, enjoyable addition to your home.


AGAIN, ASK YOURSELF WHY: This island really cooks. It features a hood, oven, cooktop and Brookhaven semi-custom cabinetry from Wood-Mode, featured on the company's web site.

ISLAND CLEAN-UP STATION: This large island that I co-designed for a local family features a dishwasher, trash center, sink and convenient storage for baggies, tin foil, Tupperware, etc.

ISLAND COOKING STATION: This island features a Miele DA424 hood that elevates when not in use, preserving views and conversation sight lines for the cook.

THE ENTERTAINING CENTER: This island features a bar sink, a full suite of entertaining-friendly appliances and a strikingly-beautiful ThinkGlass countertop, shown on the company's web site.

STYLE NOTES: Your island doesn't have to match the rest of your kitchen, but it should coordinate. Here's a beautiful example featuring Dynasty by Omega semi-custom cabinets from the manufacturer's web site.


  1. I just followed your link from over at AT. That kitchen looks great!

  2. Glad you liked the pics! Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment.


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