Kitchen Island Ideas for Great Custom Kitchen Islands

Use kitchen island ideas to better understand how to create a more functional and comfortable kitchen. Using custom kitchen islands means having the most appropriate island for your home and kitchen area based on your kitchen space and your needs. Kitchen island ideas take us back to the farmhouse kitchen, even back to medieval times when a large worktable was used to do most of the preparation work.

Besides meal preparation, the kitchen can become a gathering area for family and friends if there is enough space. Since so much happens in the kitchen on a regular basis, getting the layout right is important. The kitchen island can serve as an additional eating area, and food preparation can easily be done there. In a large kitchen, the kitchen island can shorten the distances within the working triangle (sink, refrigerator and range or cooktop) and make it more efficient.

Here are kitchen island ideas to consider when planning your kitchen:

1. Kitchen islands work best in larger L, U or G-shape kitchens. If the kitchen is too small, the kitchen island will become an obstruction and hinder easy movement. The best custom kitchen islands for small to midsize kitchens are a portable butcher block or kitchen cart for food prep or extra storage.

2. Include a ventilation hood overhead to eliminate smoke, steam and cooking odors if your kitchen island is going to have a cooktop. The range hood should extend beyond the cooking area by 3 inches or more on the sides for proper ventilation. Using the correct fan size will ensure that removal happens as intended. Have a fan capacity of about 50 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for each square foot of cooktop area.

3. A second kitchen sink can be included on the kitchen island. Use a sink that is deep enough for washing large pots and pans, and consider equipping the kitchen island with a trash compactor, garbage disposal, recycle bin and even a dishwasher. Cleanup will be much easier when these appliances are close by the sink.

4. Allow adequate countertop space on both sides (left and right) of the kitchen island if a sink or cooktop will be used. Include at least 15 inches of countertop space on each side, and if your kitchen is large enough, allow even more space. You can never have too much countertop space in a kitchen. Also, rounded countertop corners help protect everyone from bad bruises — this is true about all kitchen countertop corners.

5. Additional kitchen island ideas are to consider using shelf space on the sides of your kitchen island for cookbooks, collectibles or storage. A built-in TV works here, especially if it faces the family room. Or a microwave may work well for heating up after-school snacks and cooking foods quickly.

6. Countertop material for the island doesn’t have to match the rest of your kitchen countertops as long as it is harmonious with the room’s overall design. You may want to splurge on solid surfacing here, for example, and use laminate on the other countertops. A butcher-block countertop is ideal for chopping, while granite or marble works well for baking purposes and for rolling pastry dough.

7. Maximize natural light by having windows and skylights, and keep kitchen wall surfaces light in color to reflect daylight. Custom kitchen islands work great by using pendant or recessed fixtures to direct light onto the kitchen island and other work areas. Electrical codes will likely require that electrical outlets be located on the sides of fixed kitchen islands, not on the top, to prevent electrical shock.

Use custom kitchen islands ideas to help you know how to create an attractive area that will perform a variety of useful functions. Designed correctly, kitchen islands will make your work area more functional and efficient and will be enjoyed by everyone for many years. Read as many kitchen island ideas as you can on using an island to improve the functionality and comfort in your kitchen — after all, your kitchen is most likely the most popular room in the house.

Copyright 2005 InfoSearch Publishing

Kitchen Units – Types and Uses

We all take for granted the work it takes to design and construct a kitchen, as we expect everything to just fit into the space. It actually takes hours of design work to make sure you are getting the best use of your space as we all know how limited floor space is especially in a smaller home. When designing a new kitchen, the main thing that is going to take up space will be your kitchen units, as they will be holding loose object so you aren’t left with a cluttered mess with your new kitchen. These will also contain your appliances as well if you choose to go for a built in kitchen if you desire the sleek flush aesthetic a built in kitchen can give you.

When considering your kitchen design, the main thing you want is to not have any wasted space. You also can’t have too many units crammed into one space as this is going to cause walkway issues, as well as obstructing units that might block each other when they are open. You might think this process of designing might leave gaps in-between cabinets but there are smaller cabinets that can be installed that ensure you get the maximum use of the space.

Below we go through the different units you are going to consider when designing your kitchen.

Single and Double Kitchen Wall Units

The majority of your kitchen units are going to be your single and double wall units as these are going to make up the general units of your kitchen. Single and double units mean just that, singles having one door and doubles have two, giving you more space and a different aesthetic as you are going to have two handles in the middle rather than just on one side.

Kitchen Units Top Boxes

Top boxes can be described as one of the filler units we mentioned earlier, as they are often used above induction hoods to fill the space so you are still getting more storage space than you would without it. This can also complete the join between two units which you usually have since the cooker hoods are always in-between two units to stop any fire hazards against a wall. The size of the top box will depend on the size of the space left above the hood, as it the height of the cooker hood will dictate the size of the box you need.

End Of Kitchen Run Units

End of kitchen units are used for just that, the end of an island or aisle of units if you don’t want an abrupt end to your units. These can be tailored to your liking as you can have a mix of designs, either having a door or even a pull out unit for storage. You could also opt for curved shelving on the end of the units but a corner unit is most recommended for the aesthetic values it brings to your kitchen. This again can also act a “filler” unit as you may not be able to fit another normal sized single or double unit so you can opt for a smaller corner unit which is going to hit two tick boxes in one, making extra storage space where there wouldn’t be, and giving your kitchen a more refined look.

Corner Angled and Curved Kitchen Units

Corner and angled units are great if you want to introduce something new to your kitchen. These will give you some functionality in the form of more storage as well as some interesting mechanism that make corner units open. There are a variety of options you can go for, including inward corner doors, sliding doors or your traditional curved doors for your corner units.

Straight Corner Wall Kitchen Units

Straight corner wall units are meant for the meeting of two aisles of units that leave a corner open. If this is the case in your kitchen then you’ll be able to make use of this unit, giving you more value as well as an interesting aesthetic. This unit will be a bi fold door or a single door opening either direction.

Bi-Folding Wall Kitchen Units

Bi-folding wall units are something you might want to consider if you want something a bit different as these work like garage doors where the door lifts up to reveal the compartment inside. There are also horizontal folding doors, which can give your kitchen great visuals as these can be made of mostly glass.

Open and Microwave Wall Kitchen Units

Whilst units with doors are the norm, you can find some units that are open. If used sparingly it can create a nice aesthetically pleasing kitchen as it can create nice accent units that you can use effectively as some open space can be nice in the right layout. Being creative with these units are the best tip as you could place a nice display piece in the unit like some decorative plates, perhaps a plant or two to act as an accent feature in the kitchen space.

Full Height Pull Out Kitchen Units

Full height units are great if you really want to add a touch of futuristic influence in your design. These units run from the ceiling to the floor give or take a few centimetres for ground clearance and pull out towards you, giving you a side access style of unit that can also be used as a rack for spices, wine and anything else you can put in there. This really does alter the appearance of your kitchen, but some special work may be required to make your space compatible with the styling and overall design of your kitchen, so please speak to a kitchen designer for further advice.

Kitchen Remodeling Top 10 Tips

1. Determine a Kitchen Layout that Suits your Needs

Ever find yourself in the kitchen at a house party or during the holidays? It’s safe to say the kitchen is the heart of the home and over the last 50 years the kitchen has moved from the back of the house, to the center of attention. Once a dead end in the house, the kitchen’s contemporary application is often found in a “great room” setting promoting a home’s open floor plan. Although the kitchen’s modern appeal has doubled it into a social gathering space, one thing has remained the same:

Most of us are probably familiar with the work-triangle. This refers to the optimal relationship between the sink, stove, and refrigerator, being spaced no more than 6 feet apart. A proper “work-triangle” is designed to reduce needless steps while cooking in the kitchen.

2. Use Quality Materials

Cabinets provide the heart and soul of the kitchen as well as help set the tone and style of your entire home. Whether you prefer a traditional look or a contemporary kitchen, the drawer fronts and cabinet doors you pick accentuate the beauty of the kitchen, while also determining much of its durability. It is essential to consider both the aesthetics, including color and style, along with the function and strength of the material. As a major portion of the kitchen budget, balancing beauty, durability and cost are vital to a successful cabinet choice.

Although there is a multitude of different cabinet materials available, solid hardwoods, wood veneers and synthetics are currently the most popular.

Common Solid hardwoods:

Alder: This solid hardwood has remained popular due to lower cost, broad range of available stain colors, and subtle grain appearance. Alder’s natural nut brown undertones allow it to take stain similar to a light colored maple, a dark walnut, or even a red cherry. It is a softer wood within the hard wood category, so not that tough. Great economical choice for raised panel stained wood with a high end look in the rustic and traditional kitchen styles.

This solid hardwood maintains its popularity due to its great versatility of use coupled with a reasonable cost. The subtle grain and natural nut brown undertones opens the alder to a variety of stain options. Well stained alder can have the appearance of many other wood types including light colored maple, dark walnut, or even a red cherry. Alder is a bit softer than other hardwoods so it may not be quite as resistant to wear and tear. Overall, it makes a great economical choice for decorative raised panel, stained wood giving a high end finished look best suited to rustic and traditional kitchen styles.

Poplar: Good economical choice for painted kitchen. Difficult to stain due to natural green undertones. Softer end of the hardwood spectrum, less durable than a maple, oak, and a little softer than alder. For the white French country style kitchen, painted poplar will give you the same look as maple at a lower cost, but it will not resist nicks. Typical used for high end decorative painted trim such as white wainscoting and crown moldings in tradition and French country kitchens.

Cherry: Higher end material choice that carries good durability and a rich red undertone. Often found in formal and refined traditional kitchens. Alder is an economical substitute that will achieve the same refined look at the sacrifice of durability.

Maple A very hard wood with a mild grain pattern. This material can take a natural stain, dark stain, or hold paint with a high level of durability. Cost is higher than poplar as a paint grade alternative and alder as a stain grade alternative but the maple will hold up better over the long run.

Wood veneers – Most any wood commonly used for hardwood doors is available is in thin sheets called veneer which are applied over resin particle board or MDF (medium density fiberboard). This type of door construction accomplishes a clean look with a natural wood finish often found in contemporary kitchens. A kitchen cabinet door cannot resist warping when fabricated in a flat wide style, so a wood veneer is used to create the appearance of a solid wood door without losing stability. When selecting specific veneer wood, the hardness plays a large factor in long term durability. Maple and cherry are the toughest, while alder and poplar are the softest or least durable. Cost is often pretty comparable to a solid raised panel door of similar wood species.

Synthetics – Process is similar to the above mentioned wood veneer, with the exception that the veneer material is a PVC substance that typically possesses more durability and lower cost. Often used in commercial applications and utilitarian residential. applications such as garages and laundry rooms.

3. Decide Whether to Paint or Stain

The debate continues, to paint or to stain! I’ll leave my biases out of this one (even though stain is easier to maintain, paint is often still preferred) and list the major pro’s and con’s:

  • Stain
  • Colors come in variety of shades
  • Repair and touch-ups are easier. Easier to keep your cabinets looking good for a long time.
  • Less expensive and fewer steps.
  • Distressing or glazing make the maintenance easier.
  • Great choice for the Do It Yourselfer’s
  • Paint
  • Probably the most popular look amongst home owners.
  • More process steps than stain and more expensive to finish.
  • Touch-ups can be difficult.
  • Refinished often requires professionals to match your existing colors.
  • On average 10-12% more expensive than stain ($2,000 more on a $20,000 kitchen packet).

4. Choose Appropriate Colors

This might seem like the simplest of things to do in a kitchen remodel, but choosing the right colors can either bring harmony to a room, or a create a wrong impression. In basic color theory, colors have different meanings and are generally either stimulating or relaxing. Here is a list of the colors of the rainbow and their meanings:

  • Red: Stimulating/Increases Appetite
  • Orange: Stimulating/ Increases Appetite
  • Yellow: Stimulating/ Increases Appetite
  • Green: Relaxing/Balance
  • Blue: Relaxing/Decreases Appetite
  • Indigo: Relaxing/Decreases Appetite
  • Violet: Balance/Relaxing/Decreases Appetite

The kitchen should be a combination of both relaxing and stimulating colors. It is difficult to work in a kitchen that is too relaxing but at the same time shouldn’t be too stimulating that it makes you hungry.

5. Break the Horizontal Line

Stagger the height, length, and depth of wall cabinets. Horizontal lines at the top and bottom row of cabinets can make a kitchen look rigid and static. A break from the horizontal line can give your kitchen remodel an updated look.

6. Build Bridges, Not Walls. Islands and Peninsulas are the New Kitchen Walls

Over the last 30 or so years, the open floor plan has become increasingly popular and the function of a great room (containing kitchen, dining, and living space) is becoming the norm. Many remodels we’ve done in the past have been transforming compartmentalized floor plans into a contemporary, open floor plan by knocking down any barrier walls between kitchen and living room. Instead of walls defining the kitchen’s borders, peninsulas and islands provide a better alternative. They prevent the kitchen from spilling over visually into other spaces, and also allow the cook to maintain visual and conversation contact with family members and guests.

7. Find a Creative Contractor with Expertise and Realistic Ideas

There’s no one size fits all approach to kitchen remodeling (or home remodeling in general). That’s why it’s important to find a contractor that has access to designers capable of creating unique solutions specific to your kitchen’s needs. A popular model contractors are beginning to use is the design/build model.

Traditional remodels typically involve an architect or designer, an engineer, and a general contractor. The design/build model combines all three into one convenient package. Allowing one company to oversee your kitchen remodeling project saves you money and headaches. In addition, a creative contractor will offer practical design solutions that may otherwise have been overlooked.

An example is creatively using the existing kitchen footprint which saves money on flooring, plumbing, and other minor expenses allowing money to be dispersed on larger features of the kitchen remodel.

8. Selecting the Right Kitchen Countertop

Countertops are important to your kitchen because they can help give your kitchen a particular tone that represents your lifestyle. If you have been looking around, then you are probably aware by now that there are numerous alternatives to granite or laminate.

9. Selecting the Right Kitchen Sink

Kitchen remodels are everything AND the kitchen sink. When it comes to the kitchen sink, the function will usually outweigh the looks. Sinks come in an array of styles, but it is important to consider how you plan to use your kitchen sink. It is also important to choose a sink appropriate to the size of your kitchen.

It is recommended for kitchens less than 150 sqft to use a standard 22×24-in. single bowl. For larger kitchens there are multiple bowl options and it is often recommended to consider a secondary bar sink if multiple cooks will be in the kitchen.

10. Light your Kitchen Appropriately

What good is the your perfect kitchen remodel if you can’t SEE its features? If you are fortunate enough to be situated near windows, use them! Nothing beats natural lighting. But what about at night or in cases where you don’t have any windows? That’s when using a combination of ambient, task, and natural lighting comes in hand.

Pendant lightings are typically used as task lighting above a kitchen island or peninsula. They serve as a perfect design element that accentuates the tone of your kitchen.

Under mount lighting is a nice way to add luminosity to areas otherwise void in your kitchen. They’re a great way to accent your kitchen’s features such as a special tile backsplash or glassware.

Recessed lighting is by far the most popular way to light a kitchen. It has become a standard choice of lighting in contemporary homes.