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Kitchens Islands: Determine the Functions You Need Before Choosing the Design

by Susanne Clemenz

Whether it's a from-scratch new kitchen, a kitchen remodel, or making better use of your existing space, there are kitchens islands for both your taste and your budget. A purchased butcher-block island may be all you need. Or you may be scouting kitchens islands that can multi-task magnificently. Here's how to maximize your final result.

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Narrowing Your Kitchen Island Options

Available space and funds are your first considerations, but determining the functions you would like your island to offer can help you prioritize. Consider the list of functions that follow--it may help to check off all desirable options before starting your quest for an island. After making your choices, you use this rating system to label each one:

MH = Must Have

D = Desirable, but not essential

UN = Unnecessary, but nice if possible

Choose from popular kitchen island functions:

  • Work space for general food preparation
  • Chopping block
  • Large items storage
  • Utensil storage
  • Knife storage
  • Towel rack
  • Paper towel rack
  • Wet bar
  • Stemware storage
  • Wine rack or refrigerator
  • Breakfast bar
  • Homework area for kids
  • Mail sorting area
  • Message board
  • Dry goods storage
  • Instant hot water faucet
  • Food prep sink
  • Garbage disposal
  • Appliance garage (food processor, waffle iron, etc.)
  • Other (any options not listed)

You may have several other functions unique to your needs. Be sure to include them all in your list. If you plan to work with a kitchen remodeling contractor, have your list ready beforehand to maximize your time together. Sketch your kitchen's precise measurements on graph paper and see what space is available. Kitchens islands can be custom designed or purchased as a unit.

Preparing ahead of time can help you make sure that your island's functions and final form work beautifully together.


About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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