The Heart of Modern Kitchens: The Kitchen Island

renovated Hampton shaker style kitchen with black appliances

At the heart of every home is a kitchen — and at the heart of the kitchen is the island bench.

From casual dining and entertaining to homework and meal planning, the kitchen island has evolved from its traditional role as a meal preparation space into a multi-functional hub.

As kitchen islands take up a lot of precious real estate in an open-plan home, we’ve created this guide to help you plan your kitchen layout so that the island becomes a hub for family life, entertaining, and smart living solutions. Read on to discover why kitchen islands are so important in a modern home.

The kitchen island is central to family life

Hampton inspired kitchen with brown kitchen island

Incorporating seating into a kitchen island means it can replace the traditional dining table as a place for the family to gather. It’s a more practical and durable space where the children can do homework or crafts while dinner is prepared, keeping the family more connected. A kitchen island is also a way to get children more involved in food preparation, making them more likely to eat what’s on their plate!

With the right technology and storage in a kitchen island, it can also double as a space-saving workspace and make multitasking easier.

EXPERT TIP: To ensure your kitchen island brings the family together, design the benchtop overhang to be practical enough for comfortable seating using stools that fit snugly underneath when not in use. Incorporating the latest technology and versatile storage solutions, such as hidden cabinetry or shelves, also ensures you’ll be able to make the most of the kitchen island.

A kitchen island is a must for entertaining

Visitors to a home gravitate towards an island bench. As the perfect spot for a grazing platter or to whip up some cocktails, having a spacious kitchen island means that when it comes to entertaining, there’s no need to find space for traditional furniture pieces such as a buffet.

Working at a kitchen island means the host can always remain part of the action, and, combined with open-plan living, the island creates a more relaxed and homey feel for guests.

EXPERT TIP: When it comes to islands, bigger is better. If you have the room, make the kitchen island a feature with mood lighting and appliances such as a wine fridge or ice maker. Investing in a high-quality, durable material for your kitchen bench, such as marble or stone, also guarantees it will be able to withstand plenty of use as a party island.

Important Design features of a kitchen island bench

While size matters and bigger is better, in order to be practical, a kitchen island should improve the flow of your space, not hinder movement. There are also some other elements to consider when planning your kitchen island layout, including:

  • Whether you opt for cabinets, drawers, or open shelving for your pots and pans, a kitchen island should include double-sided storage where possible to maximise its functionality and space-saving potential.
  • Features such as a waterfall benchtop can add style to your island but don’t include it at the expense of functionality or practical measures, such as seating.
  • Don’t be afraid to use contrasting colours and materials to make your kitchen island bench a standout feature of your house.
  • The island is a great place to hide your microwave, limiting visual clutter and freeing up space on benches. It’s also a great spot for rubbish bins, considering it will likely become your main workspace for meals.
  • Feature lighting, such as pendants, add style to your whole kitchen but don’t forget to brighten up your kitchen island with practical lighting options, such as recessed downlights, for workspace safety.
  • Think carefully about where the power points need to be and how many you need to adequately service your kitchen. For a sleek look, placing them on the side of the island works well as long as your appliance can be used safely. For convenience, they may be best hidden inside drawers or cabinets, where you can store phone chargers or laptops. If function dictates you need them in a few spaces around the island bench, always opt for more power points rather than being caught short and having to use one appliance at a time.
  • If you’re deciding between including a sink or cooktop on your kitchen island, functionality should always come first. If you spend more time at the sink than cooking, you probably prefer to be facing into the living room. A cooktop may not be the best option for your island if you have young children, but it can make preparing and serving food easier if you entertain a lot.

EXPERT TIP: Kitchen renovations can add enormous amounts of value to a home, so leave the design and finer details to an expert. Easy Living Kitchens offers free kitchen design consultations, so you can sit back and let the showroom come to you.

Technology for your kitchen island bench

With smart homes a growing trend, it makes sense to control all of this technology and include it in the hub of the home — the kitchen. Consider incorporating the latest technology right in your kitchen island bench to make modern life easier. Some options to consider include:

  • Touch-activated tapware
  • Invisible benchtop wireless chargers or a docking station for devices
  • A slimline drawer with power to charge devices and keep them off the benchtops
  • Motorised pop-up power sockets or traditional power points with USB ports
  • Smart appliances
  • Downdraft rangehoods
  • Smart speakers to play music or set cooking timers
  • An iPad rack or shelving for family organisation or easy access to recipes
  • Smart LED lighting.
  • Instant hot water tap

EXPERT TIP: See our guide to Mastering the Art of Smart Kitchen Design for more ideas on incorporating technology during your kitchen renovation.

Design a multi-functional kitchen island bench that’s big on storage and style

If you’re ready to transform your home with a multi-functional kitchen island, call in the experts at Brisbane’s most trusted kitchen renovation company, Easy Living Kitchens. Our kitchens are locally manufactured, 100% customised to suit your needs and designed by our passionate and friendly team of experienced designers. Contact us on 1300 650 681 to talk to an expert kitchen designer and start making your dream kitchen a reality.

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