Kitchen Islands Offer Variety, Service

Easy to incorporate into any style of kitchen, the possibilities for island design are endless.

Historically, tables were the center of kitchen activity. Today, these work horses have evolved into the extremely popular kitchen island.

For maximum functionality, an island's shape should conform to the kitchen's unique design.

Islands provide the main preparation and landing area in the kitchen. They can be used for storage and seating as well.

The island connects the three main functional areas of the kitchen - the cleanup station, the cooking station and the storage station - or it may incorporate one or more of these stations.

There should be 3'4" to 3'6" inches of space between the island and the outside edge of cabinets. To function ideally as a preparation area, an island should have all the tools needed, especially a sink, a stove and secondary appliances like warming or refrigerator drawers.

Since an island is primarily a preparation area, to function well it should have electricity for ovens, warming drawers or refrigerator, and frequently a water source for sinks.

Islands can be modified with different counter heights. The popular breakfast bar is often raised above the working area. A lowered surface for baking and chopping is an ergonomically sound choice.

Multiple counter heights increase an island's functionality. In addition to the preparation area height, they might include lower surfaces for baking and chopping, and higher surfaces for eating up and away from the preparation area.

To make the island look different than the cabinetry and add color and interest, try using a different wood or the same wood with a different finish or color. Also use a different material for the island counter top. You might even try using two different materials for the counters, especially if the island has dual-height counters. Adding legs or feet makes the island look more like a piece of furniture, a popular trend for today's kitchens.

Stone, wood and steel are ideal choices for island countertops.

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