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The Pros And Cons Of Kitchen Islands

The Pros and Cons of Kitchen Islands

These days it seems as though every kitchen you see has an island. But these built-in features aren’t for everyone, or every kitchen. Here, two designers — Joanne Cannell and John Nichols — weigh the pros and cons of adding an island and consider whether creating a kitchen without an island might be better for your space and lifestyle.

The Case for Kitchen Islands

Arguing for: Joanne Cannell

Expertise: “I am a certified kitchen and bath designer practicing residential kitchen and bath design since 1990,” Cannell says. “After taking a number of design classes, I worked for full-service remodeling firms until I started my own design firm in 2001.”

Why she’s for kitchen islands: “If a kitchen is wide enough for an island and can’t have an efficient work triangle or sufficient work stations and work triangles for multiple cooks, an island can be the best option,” Cannell says. “If there won’t be sufficient counter space but clearances or budget are a bit tight, a movable cart or island could be the best solution. A cart also keeps an island from making the kitchen look cramped.”

On an extra work surface: The main benefit of a kitchen island is the additional countertop space that can be used for prepping and staging meals. Working on an island can sometimes be more pleasant than working on a perimeter countertop where you’re facing a wall. An island work area allows you to face guests or family members while you prep, or feel connected to people in adjacent rooms if you have an open floor plan, Cannell says. The extra surface also can be used for eating or doing homework, depending on the clearances.

On extra storage: An island creates an opportunity for hardworking storage depending on how large of a base you can create. Deep drawers, cabinets and even a spot for the microwave free up the need for perimeter cabinets, allowing you to instead have open shelves or a window.

On creating another location for a sink or a range: An island can offer a location for a main sink or prep sink if perimeter space isn’t available or ideal. For the same reason, an island can be good for a cooktop, although in general Cannell tries to avoid this situation because of the difficulties with providing adequate venting.

On focal points: By introducing a base color that’s different from the perimeter cabinets, or a countertop material different from the perimeter, you can use an island to create a dramatic focal point.


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