I must confess. I’ve been reluctant to embrace the island centered kitchen layout. Previous experience designing lean production lines is undoubtedly to blame. Commingling processes was anathema to manufacturing efficiency and kitchens are for cooking, not for hanging out, right?
If the kitchen is the heart of the home then the kitchen island must be its soul.
Thanksgiving was when my climbing partner and I would stuff my pickup truck full of climbing and camping gear and head west. This was the time we made our annual pilgrimage to the Utah desert in search of splitter cracks up endless buttresses of bullet hard, chocolate brown, Wingate Sandstone.
Long days climbing gave way to long nights eating, rehydrating, and planning the next day’s adventure. I can’t help but think of those nights in the desert this time of year.
This Thanksgiving was different and rather than thinking about splitter finger cracks up perfect sandstone, I couldn’t help but notice how similar the vibe hanging out around the island with family was to cooking over an open flame in the desert with my closest dirtbag friends.
Maybe it’s the global pandemic or maybe it’s turning 40, but each passing year has me appreciating the small things more. I’m also beginning to realize just how many of those small things happen in the kitchen, especially around the island. If the kitchen is the heart of the home then I reckon the island must be its soul.
Islands around AP
The center of the kitchen
Islands bring our attention to a central focal point in the kitchen, even if they’re not centrally located. We naturally gravitate to islands, especially ones that have bartop height space and stools.
The island brings people and processes together but it also provides some separation and dedicated space so some can mingle while others prep and cook.
Islands also create a prime under counter space for locating a dishwasher, multi-bin pullouts, spice racks, and storage shelving.
Kitchen island basics
There’s no limit to artistic license when it comes to island design but here are some general specs and guidelines to consider.
- Space required: 8′ x 12′ or ~100 sqft
- Min length: 4′ – 6′
- Min depth: 2′
- Max depth: 4′
- Space between other surfaces: ~3.5′
- Counter height for chairs: 28-30″
- Counter height for bar stools: 42-48″
How humans create and occupy space fascinates me but the evolution of the modern kitchen I find especially intriguing. Here are some articles on the subject I’ve come across during my travels.
- The Evolution of the Kitchen, Architectural Digest
- Victorian Kitchen Reveal, Farmhouse Vernacular
- The evolution of the kitchen, The Boston Globe
- Kitchen Design History, Phil Kean Kitchens
- How Kitchen Design Has Evolved Over the Last Century, Inhabitat
- How to Build a Kitchen Island, This Old House