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Island living: How to design a multifunctional kitchen island | Home & Garden

Island living: How to design a multifunctional kitchen island | Home & Garden

Kitchen islands have been a big trend for years, and there’s good reasons why: not only are they a natural gathering area and essentially the centre of the home, but they are also extremely practical in that they can be tailored to all your family’s needs.

The most important thing to consider when designing an island is traffic flow in your kitchen. Having easy access around the island is key. That means ensuring that things like stoves, refrigerators, cabinets, and drawers can be opened and closed easily without creating too much of a “jam.” There’s a lot of activity in a kitchen: people are preparing food and moving around and it’s also a natural convening place when entertaining, so an island should never be a hindrance or get in the way. It should actually do the opposite and create an area for settling down.

There are countless ways a kitchen island can be customized. The best way to decide what features you want to integrate into your island is to assess what your kitchen really needs. If you love to have family and friends over for meals, the island can be a great place to add a small wine and beer fridge. For those who love to cook, there are cutting boards that pull out like drawers, waste stations for easy, proper disposal of garbage, recycling, and compost, as well as rolling drawers that can house cumbersome small countertop appliances. Families also love to use islands as secondary eat-in areas – a bar ledge and higher chairs can create a cozy space for quick breakfasts and after-school snacks.

In order for your island to really serve its purpose, you want to keep it well-organized. Not only can you work a professional organizer to find functional ways to outfits all your drawers and cupboards, but there are also lots of incredible products out there to help you in your organizing efforts: bins, baskets, jars, separators, risers, labels, and more. If you’re undergoing a kitchen renovation or moving into a new home, the construction stage is the best time to install some of these.



Families naturally gravitate toward the kitchen island, making it a great “hub” of the home.




Lighting is the final step in designing a great kitchen island. The lighting you choose plays such a pivotal role in the overall look and feel of the island. Integrated pot lights in the kitchen can be installed on a dimmer so you can create whatever mood you’d like, whether it be bright and energetic or dim and cozy. Overhead task lighting is always a must, especially when you’re performing certain duties like chopping or cooking – you can have one larger fixture, or two to three small- to medium-sized ones.

Choose a light fixture material that is used somewhere else in the space – metallic fixtures can look great when matched to the hardware and finishes of the kitchen. You can also go the extra mile and add some lighting under your countertops or inside the cabinets – these can be especially useful at night and when you’re looking for certain cooking implements and tools.

An island is useful in so many ways. They create a centrepiece for the kitchen and can tie the entire look of the room together. They allow people to congregate around them. And they can answer a myriad of organizational needs depending on how they are designed. Take the time to properly plan out your kitchen island and it will quickly become the hub of the home.