Island Kitchen Setup:

How to Usefully Set Up an Island Kitchen

A simple island can provide valuable extra working space, or you can opt for something more elaborate fitted with a sink or a cooktop.

The top of the island can be made from laminate, solid granite, artificial stone, solid wood, or tiles. If you plan to use the surface for food preparation, choose real or artificial stone with a solid wood butcher block inset. It's easy to damage a laminate top by forgetting to use a chopping board and although tiles are attractive they can be impractical as a work surface.

Using real or artificial stone is sensible if you want to include a cooktop. Where electricity is being run to an island, it's a good idea to make the most of it by installing a couple of outlets, either mounted in the top or on the side, so that you can use small appliances. Top-mounted sockets must be protected from spills and liquid by a flap cover.

Using the Top

The top can include a sink or a cooktop but existing floor coverings may have to be lifted so that gas and water pipes and electric wiring can be brought to the island.

It's sensible to site the island opposite the existing sink position to minimize piping. Connections can be run across a concrete floor before the final topping is laid, or run beneath floorboards.

Secondary sink: The island sink is normally secondary to the main sink and can be used for washing vegetables or for preparing drinks. It isn't really a good idea to make the island the site for the main sink - there's unlikely to be enough room for anything more than a single bowl.

Cooking center: You could use the island as a cooking center by installing a cooktop into the surface. An island is the perfect site for an additional cooking unit such as a deep fat fryer or an indoor barbecue. These small units take up less space than a normal 23 ½ in (600mm) wide cooktop, which does not allow enough work space on each side.

These small specialized cooktops can be used alone or in combination. A typical unit includes an indoor barbecue, griddle, deep fat fryer, two zone gas, electric or halogen burners, and a two zone gas cooktop with a wok burner.

If you want to install a cooktop, you need a ceiling-mounted range hood above the island. A dramatic stainless steel chimney range hood, or an integrated range hood hidden in a handsome wooden canopy, helps to turn the island into an interesting focal point. A ducted range hood that carries cooking smells, steam, and smoke is more efficient than a recirculating model - in an island installation, the ducting can be hidden in the ceiling cavity.

Even expensive range hoods can be noisy so if you intend to use the room for living and eating in addition to cooking, consider a remote motor model.

Working Height

Make sure the island is at the right working height for you. Standard working height is 36in (900mm), but some feel that the ideal height for cooking, kneading bread, and other culinary tasks is 31 ½ —33 ½ in (800-850mm). Achieve this by either reducing the whole island height or part of it. If you want it to double as a breakfast bar, lower the cooking and working areas only so that the top is on two levels.

On Top

If you are installing an additional cook-top into the countertop, the range hood will help to make the island into a focal point. There are several other ways to give dramatic overhead impact to a simple working island.

A hanging canopy makes the perfect home for trailing green plants such as English or grape ivy. Both flourish in a warm, steamy kitchen atmosphere. If the canopy is slatted, you can hang utensils from the underside.

Make a utensil hanger from an old-fashioned clothes drier. Make sure that it is securely fixed to the ceiling with butterfly bolts or it might collapse under the weight of pots and pans.

Hang a simple wooden or metal rail from chains and use it for tying up bunches of dried flowers and herbs, and strings of garlic and onions.

Fit a billiard table-style light or a pull-down light fixture above the island to illuminate the surface.

The Base

Make the base of the island unit really work for you with these simple ideas:

Attach wooden rollers to the side of the island for kitchen towel, dish towels, foil, and food wraps.

Install a kick space heater in the plinth for instant warmth.

Leave a space between units or appliances for trays or wooden chopping boards. Fit the space with telescoping rails if you need somewhere to hang dish towels and oven gloves.

If space is limited, use sliding or bi-fold doors on island base cupboards.

Deep drawers are useful for storing casseroles, saucepans, baking tins, and electrical appliances.

If you collect cookbooks, fit bookshelves to the base - small, shallow ones for standard paperbacks; larger, deeper shelves for bigger books.

Disclaimer: Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.