Kitchens islands, to be or not to be

Since Hurricane Florence tore through our city I’ve been hard at work putting flooded homes back together. Sometimes it’s just giving advice, other times it entails walking clients – already overwhelmed by flooding, insurance claims and displacement – through a remodel project that is unexpected and difficult in so many ways.

I am currently working on 5 projects and 3 of them are kitchen designs. In 2 of these kitchens the homeowners desperately wanted an island installed. Don’t get me wrong, I love an island and the bigger, the better; but I don’t like an island for the sake of having an island, and I don’t like it when it inhibits the functionality of the kitchen because, ultimately, the kitchen needs to function.

Both of these kitchens presented with similar issues: a narrow kitchen that has barely 36″ on either side of the proposed island. Now, 36″ all the way around the island is fine if you just want it to house cabinets and/or have counter space. It is more problematic when you want to seat people at an island and, again, that was the case with both. And because every HGTV kitchen has a huge island that seats 10, everyone wants one just like that!

When you lay out a kitchen on paper it often will look like an island will fit easily and that is why I always recommend that we draw the island on the floor or, better yet, put boxes where the island will be and walk the space. This allows the client to see how it will affect traffic flow and ease of getting around the work space. In both cases we walked the space and the client quickly realized that modifications needed to be made to make an island work. In one case we reduced the size of the island and in the other we had to relocate the refrigerator.

Here are a few “before” pics of one kitchen:

A little dark and already in remodel mode. The homeowner has changed out the floors already and has also done some drywall work.

These are after the cabinets have been installed:

Already looking brighter, and we are getting excited for a new window and granite counters!

And now with the granite installed. It is not quite done, still needs lighting and a backsplash but for my part it’s complete.



As you can see from the pictures this was a complete transformation! It is brighter, has tons of storage, and the island is proportioned to the space. Not an inch was spared anywhere in this kitchen.

So here is the learning…..

  1. No matter how badly you want an island you need to make sure it will fit in the space and not inhibit flow or functionality.
  2. Lay it out on the floor beforehand. Kitchen mistakes are costly and you will probably have to live with it awhile if you make one; so take the time to lay it out beforehand to ensure it is exactly what you want and expect.
Nancy Bradley photo

Nancy bradley

I consult, design, and remodel spaces that reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle and budget by getting the cost question out of the way and really listening to what my client wants and how much they have set aside for their project.