Clever Islands

Radius Island

Introduction: Thanks to mixed materials, ingenious accessories and undercounter appliances, kitchen islands have become visual focal points that serve as both workspace and gathering place. Islands have become the norm in new kitchens for good reason. They’re multi-taskers, capable of storing pots and pans, concealing appliances, serving as an anchor of the work triangle and taking the place of the kitchen table. Especially useful in kitchens with open floor plans, islands can open up a dialogue between the kitchen and the living room, the cook and the guests.

"This kitchen occupies a large space, and the homeowners wanted the island to become a part of the adjoining family room. The far end of the island is a counter-height eating area that's rounded to make it more sociable. I like eating areas to be rounded, so the family can look at each other rather than eat at a straight snack bar where they sit like frogs on a log. Across from the chairs is a fireplace wall that brightens up the whole space."

"The opposite end also features a rounded top with radius cabinetry for prep and serving. Between those two is the sink, with a dishwasher and pullout wastebasket for clean up. The raised cabinet provides a backsplash, hides the sink and gives dimension to the island. There are coordinated light fixtures-a larger one over the eating area and pendants above the rest of the island. The chairs coordinate with the chairs that are in their informal dining room, and the radius doors and black countertop of the raised cabinet are repeated in the family room and entertainment center."

Two Islands

"This kitchen features two islands. The radius one doubles as a place to sit and have a quick meal, or as a conversation area to chat with the cook as they're preparing the meal. The island features two levels-36 and 42 inches. The 42-inch top has more of a furniture application, with a solid wood top and corbels. With the hutch piece to the right, the radius island transitions from the kitchen proper to the gathering area and breakfast nook.

"The rectangular island is the primary island, with a prep sink, a steamer and warming drawers for food prep and light cooking. A smooth traffic flow and added visual interest are the advantages of the two separate islands. On the wall to the left of the rectangular island are the refrigerator and wall ovens; separating the two gives the cook a smooth transition from prep and cleanup sink to the refrigerator and oven."

Fancy Face

"This true 'working' island boasts a generous size of 108-inches by 84-inches, and was created out of White Ash hardwood with a complementing two-inch thick planked hard rock maple top. With a very active cook, this custom designed island has fully functioning storage to accommodate all necessary items and utensils. Open cookbook storage on one end, and modern conveniences such as cookie sheet dividers and pots-and-pans drawers, make this a cooks' dream.

"The planked top has a dual purpose: The serving side has ICA Urethane finish, offering ultimate durability while maintaining a 'finished feel' and easy maintenance. The working side has a 'hand rubbed' wax finish to allow the homeowner the benefit of a butcher block top. Dividing the two areas is a curvaceous juice groove allowing the best of both worlds. A real stone island face complements the view of the stone fireplace and the rustic feel of the house. The island placement in this very open layout allows the homeowner to enjoy their kitchen work, as well as the view of the abundant wildlife that frequents their property.

Triple Tiers

"This kitchen is quite unique as it contains three levels. The first level, at 42 inches, is located near the cooktop and houses the microwave. It's a fairly small L-shaped kitchen, so it was a challenge as to where to put the microwave; placing it in the highest level kept convenience and counter space in mind. The second level is at standard kitchen countertop height, 36 inches, and is used for prep area and storage. Both top levels are finished with a granite countertop.

"The third level is not only a different height than the others, but also a different material. It is situated at 30 inches in height and consists of a round wood top supported by a pedestal that matches the island color (the wood top matches the stain of the kitchen cabinets). It's used as the kitchen table, as the room opens into a large great room just beyond it. The light paint on the island defines the island, while simultaneously separating the island from the rest of the kitchen."

Curve The Perimeter

"This kitchen offered an amazing wooded view and a high vaulted ceiling with exposed beams; however, its white cabinetry and traditional style didn't fit in with the otherwise contemporary home. In addition, the homeowners' needs had changed over time. As busy parents, they desired a more functional space that would accommodate two active teenagers who also love to entertain."

"A highlight of the new space is a unique center island featuring a curvaceous perimeter to give it a softer shape. It provides a conversation-friendly seating area and the perfect gathering spot to take in the wooded view. In addition to a place to gather and dine, the island provides increased counter space and a large double sink for food prep and clean up. Like the rest of the space, the island features cherry cabinetry with a rich, deep stain that offsets the cork flooring, along with stainless steel pulls."

Mix Color And Texture

"Varied depths, unique countertop materials and architectural details combine to firm a unique textural, functional piece that serves both as a storage piece and as a point of interest. The design utilizes many storage features: roll-out shelves, cutlery storage trays, adjustable shelving and an end display unit.

"In addition to the functionality of the piece, the black finish on the more traditional-style base serves as a great foundation in showcasing the various colors and textures in the concrete countertop and contrasts the mirrored and colored flecks in the material. In turn, the warmer look of the concrete contrasts the contemporary sleekness of the elevated glass countertop, which is supported by a hand carved wood column.

"The combined use of the various textures and finishes creates an island that, as a whole, lends itself to become the focal point and anchor of the space and broadens the range of possibilities for any client who visits our showroom.

Raise The Work Surface

"This dynamic multi-level island accommodates the homeowners' needs, providing the homeowners with a fantastic outside view overlooking their pond and gorgeous property. Complementing stone colors were used on the three levels. The main island countertop level boasts Husk Novolato granite to match the kitchen perimeter. Iris Green granite was chosen for its unique movement and markings on the upper and lower tiers for a dramatic yet complementing effect.

"The dishwasher was raised to accommodate the homeowners' heights and provide a larger working surface at a higher level. They entertain frequently and wanted multiple heights for guests to sit at to enjoy easy conversation. The island shape and placement provides full access on all sides, allows the users generous preparation space and comfortable conversation with guests.

Float Your Island

"The floating part came about because we have the work triangle on the backside of the island with the stove, refrigerator and in-island sink, and we wanted to incorporate an eat-in family space that's separate from the work area but still a part of the action.

"The style of the kitchen lends itself to the contemporary look of the floating island, which features stainless steel brackets and the sleek look of frosted rice paper in its base panels. The countertops at standard height are Corian, and the raised part is a blue CaesarStone that plays off of the backsplash's glass mosaic. It's floating because there's not a continuous support, just the stainless brackets that raise it up over countertop so they overlap. It's almost shaped like a comma, with a circular table area and two types of lighting that play off of the different parts of the island."

Mask the Mess

"The inspiration for the kitchen was the kitchen in the movie "Something's Gotta Give," which features a distinctive Hamptons-style kitchen. It has the same general look with white, Shaker, classic inset-style cabinets; black honed granite countertops; and subway tile. The driving force behind this island was the homeowner's five young children-she wanted them to be able to sit all of them together there. The island orients her toward the family space while she's at the sink-she's not looking out the window or at a wall, but is turned toward her family."

"The island houses an integrated Miele dishwasher, full trash/recycling pullout and a beautiful Rohl farm sink and faucets with an oil bronze finish on both the faucets and cabinet hardware. Finally, the raise in middle of island was last minute idea the homeowner had. It helps to mask what's going on in the sink area from the family and makes the island less monolithic."

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