Allen Norwood

Go crazy on the island in your kitchen

The island is sort of the powder room of the kitchen – and, even as type those words, I realize that I probably need to explain.

Designers tell us that we can go crazy in the powder room, on everything from funky fixtures to wild wallpaper. We can indulge ourselves in the small space. It doesn’t cost a lot to decorate a powder room, and when we want to change everything in a few years, that’s affordable, too.

Kitchen expert Brenda Bryan says the island fills the same role in the kitchen.

The island is the place to indulge yourself, to add personal touches. Want a butcher block countertop instead of the stone elsewhere in the kitchen? Go for it. Love ornate carvings and other furniture-like features? Use them on the island.

Use classic, conservative colors and finishes in the rest of the kitchen, Bryan suggests. “Then, on the island, paint it turquoise.”

You won’t have to spend as much if you focus on the island, and you won’t have to rebuild the whole kitchen when you want to make changes.

Bryan is executive director of the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence, or RICKI. The Charlotte company tracks consumer trends and preferences for commercial clients who make kitchen appliances and components of all sorts. You can learn more about RICKI and its work at

Bryan knows a lot about kitchens. Some of what she knows might surprise you.

For instance:

Bryan said that attitude reflects more than just money, or settling for an affordable stove. It’s also about the dust and disruption in kitchen remodeling. “A lot of people said they did it in pieces and parts. They didn’t do it all at one time ... But they wished they had.”