17 December 2008


'Tis the season of decking halls, lighting menorahs and Auld Lang Syne. Why not add styling a kitchen island to the traditions list? If you're putting one 'under your tree' this season, make sure it does your home proud!

I'm often asked, "Does my island need to be the same as my other cabinets?" It doesn't. But it needs to look like it belongs in the same space. Here are a few cabinetry dos and don'ts on achieving this effect:


* Match the island's door style to the other "peripheral" cabinets. If you've always loved bead board style doors, an island is a great spot to add them, (as a little bead board goes a long, long way!), but match the rails and stiles, (the door's "frame") to the peripheral cabinets in terms of size and shape.

* Use the same door style if it's available in a different wood - e.g., stained cherry peripherals and painted maple island; white peripherals and stained maple island.

* Consider using the same style and wood species, but in a colorful stain. For example, your peripheral cabinets are a golden oak; choose a moss stain for the island.

* Match the knobs or pulls on the island with those on the surrounding cabinets. If the same finish works on both, go that direction. Otherwise, find the same style in a finish that looks better on the island's coloration.


* Use an island to change your kitchen's style. It will just look out of place.

* Add elements to an island that look out of place with the rest of the kitchen - e.g., fluted columns, steel legs or grape corbels that don't tie into anything else in the room.

* Try to pair new cabinets of an almost - but not exact - finish. It will probably look a bit "off kilter," especially if one is real wood and the other laminate.

Here are some countertop dos and don'ts to consider, as well:


* Feel free to use a different countertop material or color on your island, especially if you're upgrading. This is your kitchen's focal point, and a great place to add a style statement and material improvement to your kitchen.

* Coordinate the color of the island top to another element in the room. For instance, cherry tops on a painted black or white island will look great with cherry peripheral cabinets topped with granite.

* Factor in the pattern of the peripheral tops when choosing your island's counter. If the peripherals are topped by a granite with flowing movement, choose a quieter, more solid-colored material for the island - perhaps a quartz or concrete.

* Consider your lifestyle when choosing a hard-working top for a busy island. If you're a busy, low-maintenance gal, choose a low-maintenance top. If you're a gourmet guy with sleek style, know that absolute black polished granite is going to compete for attention with your Beemer.


* Go overboard on countertop drama. Too many focal points equal no focal points, just eyestrain. If you've got one strong style point on the peripheral tops, go quieter on the island.

* Overlook the island's function when choosing your tops, or the material's essential properties when considering that function. For example, let's say you opted for an entertaining center island and equipped it with a wine captain. Understand that at some point in its life, a glass of red wine or a Bloody Mary will either spill or leave a ring on that counter. If you were inspired by your honeymoon in France and opted for creamy marble tops, please remember how darkened and mellowed those café tops were and don't cry over spilled guilt.

* Blow your budget on island cabinetry and be forced to settle for tops you wouldn't otherwise choose. Save up for a time when you can afford what you want in both, along with qualified, professional installation.

* Don't choose your countertop fabricator from a flyer left on your windshield, or because someone is offering the lowest price in town. Ask for recommendations from friends or a designer, builder or contractor you respect.

Don't miss Island Fever I - Sizing up your options or Island Fever II - Equipping the dream if you're new to this blog.


In order of section, top to bottom:

CABINETRY DO (Green islands) - This kitchen works because the beadboard style on the peripheral cabinets ties into the reeded legs on the island and the cream and green coordinate beautifully. Matching stone tops unify the look. Bertch Cabinets.

CABINETRY DO (Blue island) - The island's blue relates beautifully wtih the blue tiles in the backsplash, and shares a door style with the white maple surrounding the room. The wood top provides a rich accent. Craft-Art Wood Countertops.

CABINETRY DON'T (Black island) - This kitchen avoids being a "don't" by matching the island's heavy legs with the pair flanking the range. The door style on the black island also matches the surrounding cabinets. Crystal Cabinets.

COUNTERTOP DO (Glass-topped island) - The island is clearly the focal point in this kitchen, with its curved lines and glass top. The island's curve mirrors the pantry and soffit curves and the glass top becomes the stand-out star. Bertch Cabinets.

COUNTERTOP DON'T (Maple island) - This island's white top whispers, rather than shouts, and its whiteness coordinates with the backsplash tile. The effect is clean, modern and pulled-together. Kraftmaid Cabinetry.

COUNTERTOP DON'T (Black island) - This homeowner -- a client of mine -- wanted practical but stylish-looking tops. She opted for quartz by Cambria and got both. Cambria and Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC.

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