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So, you’ve decided that you want a new kitchen. A kitchen that has all the mod cons, storage space and all the functionality you would expect from a designer kitchen and especially from an island kitchen design.

From size to materials, shape to integration there are lots of questions that you may have when it comes to making a decision on having a kitchen island unit. Here is our guide to understanding this unique feature, of the island kitchen design.

1. Why are you using the island unit?

For some, it could be that the space in the room is the perfect fit for an island unit, or it could be that from a pure design perspective, it would maximise storage capacity and fulfil a functionality aspect that you’ve always wanted in your home. Then there is the other aspect, you’ve always wanted one.

Whatever the reason for having the island unit, we think that one of the key points is understanding what it would be used for. What is your island unit’s function?

Traditional island unit design includes a side devoted to cooking, the other to eating, but you have to think of what will work best for you. Is it food preparation, eating, entertaining or a bit of everything and more? If that’s the case you will need to factor in space for appliances, a sink and a large counter area.

“When talking to clients about island units, the thing I want to understand the most is how it will be used, or how they think it will be used,” says Stefano. “Overall it’s about fitting into the whole design a way of living. What is the natural flow of the environment and how do we bring together these little areas to make one complete functioning design. Island units thus, are part of a solution to a wider question of design and living.”

2. It’s all about appliances


There is a “magic triangle” in kitchen design. This means that between your three main appliances, your oven, stove and refrigerator there is a working triangle, or magic triangle that designers will use to make sure that you have the working space and configuration that means you can move around your kitchen without issue. What it also does is answer some of the questions from point one, what is the problem with your current kitchen design, and how do you want to change it?

When you start to integrate kitchen appliances into an island unit you need to be sure that the design is correct in the first place. If your primary aim is to use the island area as some sort of entertainment piece then you may want to keep the high functioning appliances away from this area; after all you don’t want someone resting their hand on a hot electric hob for example.

If entertainment or dining is the primary focus, then you may want to consider other appliances such as a wine chiller or uniquely a warming draw. You could incorporate a book rack for all of your cooking and non cooking books, or even storage spaces for smaller pots and pans that are hidden from view.

However, if you’re looking to increase your cooking repertoire, then it is about creating the necessary magic triangle with the rest of your kitchen that you need to think of. Adding a hob, be it gas or electric will require installation of power (and gas) to the unit as well as the necessary extraction hood installing above. A sink unit will need your water supply, the same would be said about any installation of a dishwasher.

And finally, dependent upon the size of your kitchen you could decide that if your island unit were to fulfill a bit of entertainment, dining and cooking, then you must consider how these appliances and the way you work around them would be best incorporated. Slimline appliances would feature best in this kind of scenario, especially if space is tight.

3. How much space do you need for an island unit?

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions we get and the answer can really depend. From room shape to size, shoe horning a kitchen island unit because you want one isn’t the best solution, but that is common sense anyway.

There are three things we would recommend to anyone looking to develop an island unit in their home when it comes to measurements however;

  • There is a minimum clearance space of 900mm between the unit and other elements of the kitchen.
  • If you want an island unit that you want to sit at, then again, a minimum 900mm width.
  • The length of the island unit should be determined by the space of the room and how it fits in with the overall design of the kitchen.

However, don’t be disheartened if you think that you now don’t have the space. For example, you could incorporate an island unit into your kitchen without seating on the unit, but adjacent to it and have a 600mm worktop surface. You could have a two tier island unit, the lower element for food preparation and the higher element for dining, reducing space, and much much more.

Of course these would be things that you would need to see with your whole kitchen design and how it would all work together before deciding on things. Why not ask for a call out and get a bespoke kitchen design from Stefano to see what could be achieved in your kitchen.

4. The storage conundrum

This will all depend on your kitchen layout and what it is you want from your kitchen the most. If you have lots of cabinets built into the overall design, without the island unit, then storage is less of an essential and more of a luxury. However if room for units is less, the island unit then becomes an essential storage space.

“This is where understanding your room and what kind of functionality you want is key” says Stefano. “By creating made to measure kitchen island units, what you can do is maximise restricted space with clever
storage solutions, or you could incorporate more into the island unit and give yourself an open plan design with the other cabinets.”

“Any design and feature in the kitchen can be made to work with how you work, when designed correctly. What isn’t a good option is sticking in an island unit for the sake of it without understanding what the wider implications of design are for the rest of your living space.”

5.What other things should I consider for an island unit?

Stefano De Blasio Kitchens & Interiors

Height is the big one. Your island unit is traditionally designed as the same height as base units. Dependent upon materials, this can lie between 900mm (granite) or 910mm (laminate) as you would need to account for the height of the worksurface material.

“One question we get asked a lot is, ‘what about increasing the height?’ this is more for people that have a longer island unit designed in the kitchen to accommodate for busy family lives, or customers who are particularly great party hosts. Well, increasing the height is achievable but by splitting the work counter.”

Stefano is talking about split level islands which provide function and feature to a kitchen. The “normal” height is there for food preparation or even entertaining. But by adding a split level means you get to create a separate space for those looking to have tall bar stools, a more sociable setting or even, a family set up.

Electrical inputs are also a big question for those who have an island unit. “Feeding electricity to the unit is not a problem, this can be all set up with the electrician and fitter at the time. But one thing that people don’t consider is creating an electrical output that would really match that functional aspect that people search for.” With more mobile phones, tablets, laptops, personal assistants and more gadgets than we can imagine, more power sockets means more opportunities to get your electrical peripherals charged, so you can always keep going.

With all of this in mind, when it comes to designing your kitchen with an island unit, take time to consider some of these points, and what overall style and function you want to couple up for your dream kitchen.

If you’re still not sure where to start, why not give us a call and see how we can help design your perfect island kitchen.


All pictures are taken from our Pinterest page of island kitchen units. For more inspiration, why not visit our Pinterest page.

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