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Designing Your Ideal Kitchen Island or Peninsula

Homeowners love kitchen islands and peninsulas, and if you’re considering renovating your kitchen, it’s worth thinking of how you might incorporate an island into your space.

Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands can be designed to fit any space and lifestyle

When a kitchen is large enough to accommodate a free-standing kitchen island, the island can become the unique centerpiece. And, when an island won’t fit, often a peninsula will. Whether small or large, kitchen islands or peninsulas lend themselves to making a design statement that can be both aesthetically pleasing and functionally satisfying.

View our gallery to see how we’ve incorporated islands in kitchen remodels, and keep reading to read about islands and peninsulas!

The Fun & Functionality of a Kitchen Island

Well-designed kitchen islands can become the social hub of a kitchen. Kitchen islands are the perfect spot for coffee and newspaper reading, homework or a quick breakfast before school or work. Cooks love islands because family and guests can gather around the island and not be in the way.

Kitchen Islands for Cooking: If cooking is your pleasure, the kitchen island can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. Because of space limitations in kitchens, a large sink and dishwasher are often placed in the island. (An island is even ideal for a microwave drawer!). Two kitchen sinks can be a practical and fun design feature, and the secondary prep or bar sink is often located in the kitchen island. But if you desire counter space for dining, baking and food prep, a new kitchen island doesn’t have to incorporate appliances or even a sink. Available space, personal needs and tastes will influence any decision when it comes to designing a kitchen island.

Kitchen Islands for Entertaining: Often the cooktop is placed in the island, putting the chef on center stage. If you want to be a part of the activity while cooking and entertaining, your kitchen design will require coordination to resolve exhaust issues for cooking odors. Placing a cooktop into an island does require resolving the exhaust issues for cooking odors with either a downdraft unit or a ceiling hung hood that needs to be suspended over the island. If you have small children, you may not want to have a hot cook top adjacent to a counter top “homework area.”

Kitchen Islands

A kitchen island can become the social hub of the kitchen and is the perfect opportunity to
have a little fun with design

Kitchen islands or peninsulas are often good areas to accommodate bar stool seating. The typical counter top is at 36” and requires a bar stool with a 27” seat height. Our design team always recommends armless stools that are easy to maneuver in and out of. In some instances, homeowners wish to use their new islands to screen their kitchens from the dining room, with a design calling for a split level island countertop (42” to 48” high level with the main area at a 36″ height). Although a visual screen is a nice amenity to hide a messy kitchen, our design-build team has found that most homeowners prefer a contiguous work surface at a 36” height.

Enhance Your Kitchen with an Island or Peninsula

A kitchen island also provides the opportunity to have a little fun with the design. For example, the cabinet finish on the island can provide contrast to the other cabinets. If the main cabinets are stained wood, our design team will often specify island cabinets in a painted finish and vice-versa. The kitchen island also provides the perfect opportunity to be creative and break up the monotony of the kitchen cabinetry. In certain instances, a kitchen island can be designed to resemble a custom piece of furniture. With the right design, spending a bit more on the island and a bit less on the main perimeter cabinets can be a smart decision.

Kitchen Peninsula

Islands and peninsulas built to resemble furniture add personality to any kitchen

This is also true for the kitchen island countertops where our design team will often specify a higher quality stone or manmade material. Such decisions help give the kitchen island and the kitchen immense visual impact. When the island provides the “wow factor,” the perimeter countertops can be simpler, less expensive and more natural.

A Well-Lit Kitchen Island

Building codes require electrical outlets to be integrated into an island, and an experienced designer knows how this can be done properly and unobtrusively. And for both functional and aesthetic reasons, lighting is also an important feature for a kitchen island or peninsula.

Our design team frequently specifies hanging pendants (typically 1-3) over the island – a decision that provides a decorative element and a splash of color. Pendants over the island also help focus light on the countertop, and an island meant for food prep or reading should be well-lit. A variety of lighting in a kitchen helps give a bit of glamour to a kitchen space. For homeowners who do not want hanging fixtures, our team often suggests proper down lighting and occasionally hip tracking lighting.

Hanging pendants over a kitchen island adds visual interest

Hanging pendants
over a kitchen island
adds visual interest

Whatever your preference and however you use your home, a kitchen island is sure to enhance your new kitchen. A well-designed kitchen island or peninsula, one with your chosen features, is sure to become your home’s social center, the place to be when the kids come home or the friends come over and you’re cooking a big meal, enjoying a glass of wine or catching up on the week’s news over a leisurely breakfast and the Sunday paper.

Ready to start your dream kitchen? Contact our team!

“ We had such a good experience with your studio that we are pleased to recommend Wentworth. We also hope to be back for other projects on our home. ”

D.S., Chevy Chase, MD
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