The focal point of any kitchen, the island is a truly versatile piece of modern living kit. Adaptive and accessible, it provides additional space for prep, for storage, for eating, gathering, sipping coffee, socialising, even working. A kitchen island draws people together and generates character in so many ways. Here are some tips and pointers for anyone considering a bespoke island.
First, be clear about what your island is for – and what it’s not for. The Irish Times noted recently that kitchen islands are the “ultimate status symbol”, but posed an extremely pertinent question: “Are they the heart of the home or the mess magnet?” Food for thought!
Your lifestyle will likely determine whether your kitchen island is a pristine, uncluttered surface where you sip an aperitif in the evening and admire whatever’s cooking, or a messy repository for schoolbooks, car keys, phone chargers and other everyday detritus. There is nothing particularly wrong with the latter, of course, but if you strive for the former then this must be a primary design consideration.
The earlier you begin planning your kitchen island, the better. Consulting with your designers, this will help you avoid potentially costly mistakes – no pining for a sink or cooking surface after the event – while optimising both the functional aspects and aesthetic appeal of the space.
In this regard, you’ll have your own ideas, naturally, your vision of how an island can enhance your beautiful kitchen. But if you are just starting out on the consideration phase, we’d like to share some ideas from projects we have delivered ourselves. Here, you’ll see how our kitchen islands work within different layouts – and how the islands lend themselves to truly bespoke designs.
1. Stunning large island in a league of its own
This expansive and open kitchen has a casual yet sophisticated vibe. The L-shaped kitchen island has a work area that includes a built-in sink, while the breakfast bar and dining area is large enough to accommodate five comfortably. You’ll notice the customised timber eating surface – in contrast to the stone prep area – extending out from the island, giving the impression of a floating table and helping the transition from work to pleasure.
The island is painted in a contrasting blue to the off-white cabinetry yet picks out and emboldens the lighter shades on the walls. The curtains to the French doors lend a warmth the room that is unexpected in a kitchen, enhanced by the armchair that adds a lovely cosiness. It’s a gorgeous example of how to make open plan work. This island offers plenty of built-in storage: wine fridge in the corner, elegant drawers, hidden dishwasher and waste bin under the sink.
2. U-shaped kitchen with a curvaceous centre island
The shape of the island is cleverly mirrored in the ceiling details while a sparkling chandelier sets the tone. You can see the island and cabinetry are painted to match, and the polished wooden work surface adds a chic and sexy tone. The homeowners have created a lovely warm room that invites you to sit at the island, while the leather stools give a further air of opulence.
3. Natural stone and cooler tones
This island playfully contrasts both in paint choice and work surface. The cabinetry is traditionally finished in a modern shaker style with the addition of low level lighting bringing the kitchen into the 21st century. There is a second sink fitted into the kitchen island which is ideal for slicing, chopping, peeling, and keeping the main sink free for dishes. The stone slab overhangs a comfortable breakfast bar. This is a bright open plan space and the kitchen island provides a delightful backdrop for styling.
4. Simple and chic, underpinned with versatility
Here, the beautiful aubergine shade of the island and lighting pops from the hand-painted oatmeal cabinets. This is shaker style at its best with everything integrated and custom-finished for a pared-back look that is easy to organise, maintain, style and clean. The polished timber bar surface is a subtle definition in the island; notice too the built-in stove top with pop-up downdraft ventilation for the ultimate in modernity. Deceptively simple but super sophisticated, the kitchen island elevates this kitchen design.
What’s your idea of island life?