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Beyond the stand-alone island

Multiple islands and two-tiered alternates mean islands are possible for more kitchens

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If you don’t think you can have a kitchen island, think again. There’s more than one way to look at this powerhouse kitchen staple.

Whether or not you have the ideal kitchen layout to accommodate the island of your dreams, newer options mean more homeowners can welcome a kitchen island into the heart of the home.

Not all islands are created equal. Some spaces call for an expansive island with abundant seating and all the trimmings, while others might not have the kitchen floor space for a single large island.

From peninsulas and smaller islands to two-tier island setups, creative options provide for more counter space, seating, eating areas, storage and a chic entertaining hub.

You can enjoy an intimate island-like gathering spot when it’s sized just right to meet your needs and your kitchen’s available space.

The peninsula

A peninsula can be a modified island option for those with smaller kitchen spaces and a premium on floor space.

Peninsulas extend counter and storage space while providing an additional surface area for meal prep and baking.

Add a couple of stools for for casual dining or to relish that first cup of morning coffee.

“If you don’t have space for an island [you can] do a peninsula, which can also be used with lower profile stools,” said Leigh Nunno, a Realtor and associate broker at Melissa Healy Group at Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown.

Peninsulas are not freestanding. That means they will tie into or connect with an existing perimeter countertop and cabinet.

In addition to adding seating, a peninsula can offer built-in space for drawers, storage, a wine rack, cabinets or small appliance space, according to The Spruce.com.

Smaller islands, big impact

When a large island isn’t possible or practical, consider sizing down.

Having a “just right” sized island work space still affords additional counter space, a chance to add interest to cabinetry and countertop materials, as well as more storage for kitchen gear and tools.

Two-tier and split level

Homes & Gardens.com reported two-tier or “split level” islands are “the future” of kitchen islands and renovation projects. They’re especially attractive in open floor plan layouts, the website said.

From adding visual interest, providing a way to hide food prep during everyday meals, parties or when entertaining the split level island provides a way to incorporate seating – either high or low – to island furnishings.

For those who prefer table seating over a stools, a split level island can handily stand in for a conventional table and chairs in an eat-in kitchen, while giving island quality prep and storage space.

Integrating more seating – on demand – with a tabletop that can be retracted or stowed into the island can add even more flexibility in a less than spacious kitchen, Homes & Gardens.com said.

Two-tier islands can step up when a desk area is a priority, too.

For a recent project John Gemmi, owner of Gemmi Construction Inc., in Buckingham Township said an island included a lower tier desk space with a wood top to differentiate the use.

The two-tier or split level approach can “…also break up a big island,” he explained.

Lighting and electric features

If the kitchen island is home command central, make sure it has enough electrical outlets, charging stations and other features to accommodate varied uses.

Lighting is an important element in any room and because kitchen demands are diverse aim to include different types of lighting, too.

“Lighting is important with islands. Some people want ceiling mount, and we typically do recessed along with smaller [hanging or pendant] lights,” Gemmi said.

Consider hanging and pendant lighting as a way to dress up the kitchen or as an opportunity to add whimsy or playfulness.

“How many pendants do you want, what is the size and what works in scale and proportion” to the island and the room, he said.

Islands that incorporate several electrical outlets and charging stations provide a way for several corded appliances or electronic devices to be run from a hub space.

According to Gemmi many recent island projects have included charging receptacles and built-in outlets with USB port tech.

If small appliances, dishwashers, mini fridges or ice makers are part of the island plan electrical components and access for them must also be taken into account.

Appliances and storage

In busy households, there almost never seems to be enough storage space, and a large island provides even more opportunities to stow gear, gadgets, small appliances, cookbooks, cookery, crockery and kitchen tech.

“When you’re designing your kitchen, think overall about what appliances you want in the space,” Gemmi said.

Think about adding a handy island microwave drawer, mini fridge or an independent ice maker for ease and convenience.

Nunno said ice makers in islands are trending, especially in active households and among those who entertain often.

“You want the ice maker as close to where you are filling your beverages. And you can get different types [of ice makers] for different sizes of cubes. You can level up however you want to,” Nunno said.


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