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The 6 Most Recommended Features for Kitchen Islands

The 6 Most Recommended Features for Kitchen Islands

A useful and convenient upgrade, kitchen islands offer many benefits including extra seating, storage space and a bonus countertop. Here are the six most popular features to consider when planning a kitchen island of your own.

While a kitchen island may seem like a straightforward project to take on, there are many considerations to think about when designing one that looks right and functions well in your space.

1. Seats

Seating is the most popular kitchen island feature, by far. The reason? More often than not, the island will naturally become a gathering spot for the household. It’s just easier to embrace it and offer seating. Luckily, there are many different approaches to island seating, so you’ll surely find a solution for your particular needs. Just be sure to explore the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

For example, if the seating will most likely be used for quick snacks and doing homework, having all the seats facing the same direction might be fine. However, if you prefer looking at the person next to you or if conversation is important, seating on two sides of the island might be the best option. Just remember that a minimum of 24 inches between seats is necessary for personal comfort.

How you plan on using your island seating will affect other design decisions, such as the depth of the overhang. For the most part, 16 to 18 inches should be allocated so that there is enough clearance for knees and bar stools. The minimum depth is 12 inches. Leaving a bit of an overhang on the countertop is also a nice touch for attaching cooking tools like pasta cranks or meat grinders.

The standard island countertop height is approximately 36 inches, however many homeowners enjoy having a portion of the island that is bar height — 42 inches. That way there is a specific spot designated for guests to roost and relax, but also stay engaged.

2. Lots of Storage

A well-planned kitchen island can provide a lot of extra storage to your space. While most of it will manifest on the interior side, the back side of the island can be quite useful as well.

For example, additional cupboards can be added under the overhang on the back side for hidden storage. Stash holiday serving pieces or small appliances that are not used often and access the storage by moving the chairs/stools out of the way. With kitchen trends moving away from upper cabinets, extra storage space in the kitchen island helps make up for that space lost overhead.

Drawers, shelves and cabinets at the ends of the island also work well for easy-access storage, depending on your island design.

3. Electrical Outlets

At least one outlet is required for a kitchen island, according to building code, which means you need to figure out the best placement for your outlet or outlets. If you’re working with a design or building professional, be sure to get their recommendations before deciding.

A kitchen island outlet lets you plug in small appliances like mixers or blenders directly on your food prep surface. You can also use an outlet to charge electronic devices. While locating one on the back side of your island might be helpful when the seating is used for a homework or work station, an outlet located on the side might be a better option for plugging in kitchen gadgets. Another clever option is including an outlet inside a drawer for charging devices so they don’t clutter up the countertop.

Be sure to pay attention to small details, like outlet cover style. Consider forgoing the basic white plastic outlet cover and use a painted or matching outlet cover instead, especially when it comes to a wood or dark painted island.

4. Mini Fridge

Incorporating a drink fridge or refrigerated drawer into your island is an excellent way to avoid disruptions and kitchen chaos. People can easily slip in, grab a drink or snack, and slip back out without interrupting the work flow. A good spot for a mini fridge is at the far end of the island, away from where the main kitchen action takes place.

Also, during parties, the countertop above the mini fridge can easily become a drink-making spot while the rest of the island counter space is still available for food prep.

5. Microwave

Similar to the drink fridge, including a microwave in your kitchen island design allows people to heat up food or a drink without interfering in the main workings of the kitchen. Plus, having a microwave closeby when prepping food at the island can minimize kitchen traffic since it’s no longer necessary to walk back and forth to the microwave. Getting the microwave off of your kitchen counter also frees up space and eliminates visual clutter.

6. Prep Sink

If your main sink is located elsewhere in the kitchen, consider putting a small prep sink in your kitchen island. This allows more than one person to comfortably prepare and cook food. For those that consider the kitchen island as their main prep space, having a sink there is very convenient as it allows them to rinse items right where they’re working rather than slogging food back forth across the kitchen.

It’s a good idea to place the prep sink off to one side of the countertop, as near the refrigerator as possible so that foods can be transferred easily. Plus, positioning the sink off to the side makes for a larger work surface to prep and serve food.

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