Island life: adding an island to your kitchen

Island life: adding an island to your kitchen – by Alan Woods

Always a popular addition to your home, adding an island to your kitchen can really enhance your home. Islands come in all shapes and sizes, so how best to decide how you want yours to look and function?

If your kitchen is compact, you’ll probably first need to establish whether you have enough space to fit one it.

Trying to cram too large an island in to too a tiny space is a mistake, so think very carefully, otherwise your dream addition could become nothing more than a nightmare of poor ergonomics. Here at Harvey Jones, your designer will be able to advise how much space you’ll need around your island for it to function, and fill you in on alternatives, such as butcher’s blocks or peninsulas if your space in on the small side.


Pick your size

Depending on the shape of your room and its flow of traffic, you can then plan your island’s size and form. Remember to carefully consider things such as seating, as if you want one side of the island to act as a breakfast bar, with stools sitting at it, you’ll need to factor in space for them to be pushed and pulled back when people are sitting down or getting up. Access to open drop down doors on ovens, dishwashers and wine coolers sited in an island is also a factor, as well as allowing space for opening any cupboards or pan drawers you want to include.

If your room is long and thin, an island that mimics the ones popular in professional kitchen – long and slim – could be a good solution. For squarer rooms, letting the island reflect its shape will help it to sit comfortably in the room.

What’s inside?

Of course, the size of your island will also dictate what you can fit into it, so if you’re after an all-singing, all dancing central workstation with hob, sink, dishwasher and wine cooler plus bags of storage space for pans then you’re going to need something pretty big to accommodate all that kit. If you want your island to be your main cooking/prep space then remember to talk to your builder, electrician and plumber about having the right services and wastes run to the base of the island as it will be more difficult to add it retrospectively.

What goes where?

Including a hob in the island is a good idea if you want to face out and chat to guest when you’re cooking, but if you have a breakfast bar on the island that children might sit at, do think about their safety. Creating a high-level breakfast bar in a contrasting material to keep little hands away from gas flames is an option, as is using an induction hob instead. If you can, plan in pan drawers below hobs and china cupboards next to dishwashers if you’re installing them in an island so you don’t have far to go to take things out or put them away. If you’re including a wine cooler, site it facing outwards, so guests can access it without having to enter the main body of the kitchen.

Added Extras

If you’re using your island for prep, factor in plug points, either on the side or with a pop-up plug. Baskets to hold your veg look good and are useful, too, as are bins for veg peelings. Finally, a hardworking island deserves hardworking lighting, so remember to have every part of it lit for purpose, including pendants above and LEDs surrounding the base or below the work surface. These commercial induction cooktops can also be used for everyday home cooking.


Harvey Jones produce bespoke kitchens, made to order, in their Cambridgeshire based workshop. For more inspiration and information about how to create a new kitchen, visit their website, here.

Island life: adding an island to your kitchen – by Alan Woods



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