No man is an island

Island Dreaming

To island or not to island?

The pros and cons of having a kitchen island is one of the most hotly debated subjects in kitchen design, with some arguing that the much-coveted pieces of kitchen furniture are overrated, expensive and zappers of valuable floor space. Nevertheless, they routinely hold the Number 1 spot on our client’s wish lists, but just why do so many of us crave this go-to piece of kitchen cabinetry?

In this blog, we explore the pros and cons of island living and showcase some of our favourite past projects and showroom displays which have made great use of the space available to create islands both big and small with our very own Rencraft flair.

How much space do I need?

An essential point to consider when deciding whether to include a kitchen island in your design is whether you have enough space. According to The National Kitchen & Bathroom Association, the key measurement you need to keep in mind is a minimum of 42 inches (or 1066mm for the Millenials amongst us!) of clearance on each side of your island. But is this really the magic number? Rencraft Director, Robert Waite sums it up perfectly when he says: “It all depends on use.”

“For example, if you’ve got a sink against the wall and a hob opposite on the island, then you might want a bigger gap of 1200-1300mm to allow 2 people to stand back-to-back in the working space to allow you to cook and use the sink at the same time.

It also depends on the shape of the room as it may be that you choose to have more clearance on one side of the island, so giving you plenty of space to swing a saucepan, which in turn means you can get away with having a smaller gap designed purely as a walk through.

Another thing to bear in mind is seating as you’ll need to allow space for bar stools to be pulled out and sat on with ample clearance behind to avoid a cramped seating area.”

But does the kitchen island’s need for a walkway on all sides take up valuable floor space and have the potential to be overly imposing and interrupt the flow of your kitchen? Not if you have the expert eye of one of our kitchen designers!

Here are our top reasons why we love incorporating a kitchen island into our designs:

More Storage


Extra storage is a huge bonus, so we love to include built-in cabinets to allow you to store larger pieces of equipment like food processors, bread machines and juicers, as well as provide space for food waste and recycling. You could also consider adding a wine cooler, and additional under counter refrigeration, or even a super convenient in-drawer knife block, spice rack or bespoke cutlery drawer to make everyday items accessible and close to the cooking zone.



Shaker Dark Blue Kitchen Island

Extra Work Surface Space


A kitchen island creates extra work surface space, giving you more room to prep food, lay out finger food and serve drinks for parties, read the paper and eat a leisurely weekend breakfast, sit together and plough through the dreaded homework and even plonk down your bags of shopping when coming home from Waitrose.



Island Cooking


A kitchen island is also a great location for a hob and a sink. This revolutionised design means you’ll no longer have your back to the room whilst cooking so you’ll enjoy a more social aspect, interacting with an open plan design more easily and improving views out to garden, dining and snug areas.



Contemporary kitchen design with SieMatic kitchen island, Buster and Punch lighting, Bora hob and Bora ovens.

Take a Seat


An island is the perfect place for additional seating, so creating a multipurpose space for breakfasting, catching up on emails, a spot of lunch and an informal location to share a glass of wine and a catch-up with friends and family. You could even consider an elevated mondial like this example in our penthouse show kitchen, or why not think about including banquette seating in the form of a in-built sofa within the island to give a comfy space to relax or enjoy a pre-dinner drink.



Dark Grey SieMatic Kitchen

Get into the Zone


A kitchen island helps define spaces in an open concept home as it creates a visual & functional separation between the kitchen and other living areas. Rencraft Interior Architect, Jonathan Reynolds explains: “In large, open-plan kitchens islands are a necessity not a fashion trend. When the space is too disparate between wall countertops, the island becomes a central ‘way station’ connecting the essential elements together and so making for a more cohesive space.”



Dark Grey SieMatic Kitchen

The Wow Factor


A kitchen island can add a real ‘wow factor’ as it creates a focal point and gives the opportunity to add extra visual appeal with the introduction of a secondary colour to your space. In this project we included two islands into our design, with one island taking on a functional space with a sink and food prep area, whilst the other provided a social area with seating and an integrated wine cooler.



Lewins Lighting Island

It's All About the Light


You can also use an island to increase your kitchen lighting options with additions such as pendant lighting to create a relaxing atmosphere or illuminate a workspace. In this project we were asked to design a central kitchen island which would appear like a contemporary art installation or “pod” which had just landed in the middle of the beautiful, character-filled room. To accentuate this look, LED lighting was installed within the glass-fronted cabinets and beneath the Silestone Quartz worktop, allowing the look of the kitchen to transform effortlessly from daytime into night.



Lewins Lighting Island

Space Saving Peninsula


If you love the idea of having an island but just don’t have the space, then why not consider a peninsula which will give you all the advantages of an island but take up less floor space as you only need a walkway at one end. This example can be seen on the ground floor of our Tunbridge Wells showrooms at 81, Calverley Road.



Open Shelving


Why not take the opportunity to include some open shelving in your kitchen island to add variety to your design, as well as display recipe books and ornaments and give a boost of colour and personality? This example provides a handy cubby hole for oversized pieces of crockery which take up valuable drawer space.



Chat to us about your project.

If you have a new kitchen project in mind, then why not come and visit us in our Tunbridge Wells showrooms to see how we have created 13 stunning show kitchens spread over 4 floors ranging from ultra modern contemporary designs to traditional country house kitchens and everything in between.