Is there a perfect island in your wildest fantasies?
A kitchen island, we mean, in your kitchen daydreams?
If so, heres a bit of reality: You cant jam all the latest gadgets and gizmos into an island.
The fascination with islands is linked to the trend toward open design, said Lisa Carlay, award-winning kitchen designer at International Kitchen & Bath in Davidson.
If you knock down all the walls, youre left with an island. If there is no wall for upper cabinets, that storage space goes to the island. If theres not enough wall space for the sink or stove, those features go into the island.
Nobody has ever come in here and said, I want to put up more walls, she said.
So, many things end up on the island because theres just no place else to put them, even though some are better placed on a wall.
But there are reasons that your island cant accommodate all the features of your daydreams.
First, theres size.
The maximum manageable size for a granite slab, Carlay said, is about 5 1/2 feet by 10 feet. If you want a far bigger island, there will likely be a seam in the countertop. And you dont want a joint, she said.
Then, of course, an island thats too wide is hard to reach across when youre serving someone on the other side.
Island vs. cabinets
Which kitchen features are suitable for the island and which ones belong in cabinets along the wall?
For nine straight years, 2004 to 2012, International Kitchen & Bath won kitchen design honors in a competition hosted by the Lake Norman Home Builders. The companys kitchens twice won statewide honors. We asked Carlay for her advice.
Does the cooktop belong on the island?
Some cooks like the idea. They can cook while facing their guests on the other side of the island. But parents might not want their kids to eat at the island close to the heat.
If you have only one wall and want the sink in front of a window on that wall, then the cooktop might have to go on the island. Im really not a fan of it, though, Carlay said.
The best place for an oven, though, is in a tall cabinet away from the island if theres room for a tall cabinet after youve knocked down walls to create the open concept.
Families typically choose large standard dishwashers, while empty nesters with fewer dishes are more likely to choose drawers.
Either way, choose a quiet machine. Thats especially important if the island is open to the great room. Compare the noise ratings.
Narrowing the scope
Theres one new device that users appreciate when Carlay includes them in a design: an air switch to turn on the garbage disposer.
It works like the air switch on a jetted tub and replaces the standard switch typically located on a wall near the sink. Theres no electric power right at the switch. You dont have to worry about wet hands, Carlay said.
Homeowners would be better off carefully choosing fewer features with wider appeal, Carlay said. You dont want to over-plan and over-personalize a kitchen island.
An island planned around kids can lose its appeal after they grow up. A built-in mixer is just taking up space when you lose interest in baking.
You might think its cute and convenient to feed and water your dog in a cubbyhole in the island but the next owner might not want pets underfoot in the kitchen.
We try to hold people back from micro-planning their kitchen islands, Carlay said.
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