Friday, December 1, 2017

Kitchen Islands

I remember when a kitchen island was a hot item to put in a kitchen remodel in the 1980s. My best friend's parents remodeled their kitchen when I was around 5 years old and I remember them showing the kitchen to my parents. I was eye level with the stools at the counter and I thought that the cookbook shelf in the island was so impressive.

Now here we are in 2017 and islands are a must for almost all of my clients. I have my own kitchen island and hope to expand my kitchen in a few years to have an even larger island.

What I like about my own island is the functionality. I can pivot from my stove to a large open workspace on my island and make soups, cook pasta, make a quick fudge sauce, all of the things that are easier when there is plenty of room to chop and mix the ingredients nearby.

But are we missing out on work space by not having the U shape in our kitchens any longer?

My experience has been that the U shape is frustrating for 2 reasons. First, the U shape is maddening when a few cooks are in the kitchen putting on a large meal. This is often the case in my mom's kitchen and we are constantly bumping into each other. There is about 6-8 feet between the peninsula and the oven and it fills up with people, including my mom in her wheelchair.

The second reason is that the distance between the peninsula and the oven makes the peninsula more of a snack and eating area instead of a chopping and stirring area. This puts a lot of strain on the counters adjacent to the stove. In my experience this is usually 3 feet of linear counter space with a blender and paper towel holder in the way against the backsplash.

With an island, what is gained are two access points into the main cooking area near the stove. This can be so nice for children who want to come in and get a snack or make their own lunch while an adult is also working in the kitchen. It is also incredibly nice for multiple cooks and for the chef to have some company if guests want to sit at a bar stool while dinner is being made.

Almost certainly, kitchen design will morph over the next several years and islands might be a thing of the past--just like the galley kitchen was in the 1950s.  But for now, the kitchen island suites me just fine.

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