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Kitchen Islands vs Peninsulas: The Low Down

Rebecca Silburn | 17 April 2015

For many, the fantasy of their dream kitchen isn’t complete without an island . A symbol of having a large, luxurious kitchen or a way to incorporate gadgetry or storage, an island is without a doubt an aspirational feature. With so many options for materials, designs and features it can be hard to know where to start when designing your kitchen and an island unit adds an extra level of complexity. Here are some thoughts and considerations for people about to embark on the kitchen design process.

Room Size

Firstly, what if you like the idea of an island but the size of your kitchen prohibits it? A small island is an option but the absolute minimum amount of room that should be left all the way around the unit is 900mm. Ideally 1m would be left around each side, so that two people can pass comfortably. With a small island being considered 1200mmx1200mm you would still require at least 3000mmx3000mm floor space, not including cabinetry. Another option if your kitchen dimensions don’t meet this is a peninsula. Instead of sitting in the middle of the room as a centrepiece, peninsulas are joined at one end to a wall or run of cabinetry. These are a nice option if you want to create an informal seating/breakfast area. Peninsulas lend themselves particularly well to U and Lshaped kitchen layouts, breaking up the room and providing an extra work surface as well as a potential seating area.

Kitchen islands with seating sections

Size Matters

In a bigger kitchen islands are ideal for adding a bit of ‘wow’ factor, as well as being highly functional. The bigger the kitchen the larger and more complex the island can be, as it won’t overwhelm the rest of the room. However, one important thing to consider is the practicality of a very large island how will you clean the middle of it? If you’re combining work surface and seating on the island how far will the distance between the two be? A very large island will put guests sitting a long way from the preparation area and make them feel isolated, which is not the intent of purposefully including an area for guests in the kitchen. Aesthetically a large expanse of island can also look very uninspiring. In all cases, for large islands it is a good idea to mix up materials, colours, and levels to keep it visually appealing as well as practical.

In addition, large kitchens can also take unusual shaped islands. As we specialise in curved cabinetry , rather than a standard square or rectangle, why not opt for an ‘S’, ‘U’ or oval shaped island? Something which is bespoke and unusual such as this is bound to be an eye catching feature.

S' curved kitchen island vs kitchen storage peninsula

Are you Sitting Comfortably?

If you plan on incorporating seating in an island and many people do it is important to consider several aspects; will guests be seated opposite the preparation area, or perpendicular to it? Consider the practicalities of where your guests will sit; you don’t want them to obstruct important appliances or access to cupboards. When you decide where to seat them make sure you have enough space to walk behind them. Also ensure that there is enough room for legs: 300400mm is about right; any less and they will end up knocking their knees on the back wall of the island! However, any larger than that and the surface might need additional support depending on the material. In addition, consider the rest of the island; with up to 400mm allowed for leg room, will the dimensions allow for suitable depth drawers and cupboards to house everything you want to store in there?

No matter what the size of your kitchen, there’s an option if you want to add more work surface or seating. Islands can make stunning centrepieces but they must be functional and in proportion with the rest of the kitchen.

Large kitchen island with corner seatoing zone

Island with central barrel unit and seating

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