Kitchen islands are one of the most practical additions to today's kitchen. Most new homes come with kitchen islands. Kitchen remodels when there's enough space, often include an island. Maybe you're wondering why because it wasn't obvious when my husband (yes) wanted to design our new kitchen around an island.
Kitchens traditionally have been designed around the “kitchen triangle” where you want no more than 13 feet between the refrigerator, sink and stove, to save on the steps used to prepare a meal. When you consider what cooking a meal 50 years ago involved, it makes sense. When you look at all the new gadgets we have today – a microwave, water and ice dispensers in the refrigerator and more prepared frozen foods than fresh foods, it should be obvious cooking is a lot different. Do you wonder what it was like when carrots only came in one size?
Kitchen Islands for Meal Preparation
When it's time to start cooking, we open the refrigerator (or freezer) and start pulling things out. Having kitchen islands next to the refrigerator is convenient, and it saves time. It's easy to pull out more than you need, and visually think about how to combine leftovers with new items.
With so many prepared foods available today, many items go straight to the oven or in our house, the microwave. The microwave has certainly changed how we cook, from it's early days when we only used it to defrost things because we forgot to take them out of the freezer before heading off to work. A real benefit of microwaves today is fewer dirty pots to wash by cooking vegetables in their freezer bags or oatmeal in individual bowls.
For cooking, kitchen islands provide lots of extra counter space and many are wider (3 or 4 ft) than your typical 2 foot wide, kitchen counter tops. Kitchen islands also provide more storage and in our kitchen, that means room for 2 trash bins – one near the sink and a second one near the stove.
Kitchen Islands at the Heart of Family Life
Our lives have changed dramatically with more women working so we're spending less time at home, and less time cooking. Afternoons and evenings are also spent driving kids to different after school activities so most families only gather for family meals a few nights each week.
These lifestyle changes mean kitchens are no longer used primarily for cooking. Kitchens are still at the heart of our homes, with an expanded role that includes some of these activities:
- Meal planning, cooling and baking.
- Preparing lunches to take to school and work, i.e. meals on the go.
- Family conversations in person, and on the phone.
- Handling the mail, bills and reading newspapers/magazines.
- Working on homework, paperwork or a computer.
|For many families, the kitchen has become the family communication center. With a family calendar, children's school paperwork and home responsibilities posted, etc.|
- Hobbies and other relaxing activities like watching television.
- Entertaining friends and family.
Kitchen Islands for Entertaining
Entertaining at home saves time, money and it's less stressful (no one's house is spotless, so don't agonize). You've got to prepare an evening meal for your family so why not invite another family to join you, especially those with children the same age as yours. You can create a monthly potluck tradition with several families. Kitchen islands are perfect for serving and/or space for the kids to eat while adults go into the dining room.
Kitchen islands also allow for several families to prepare a meal together. Try it and you'll wonder why you didn't think of it years ago. I'm always asking guests for help setting out hor d'oeuvres, making the salad, etc. By planned ahead, kitchen islands can become mini-entertainment areas where guests can get to know each other as they contribute to preparing the meal.
We know people gravitate to where they expect the food to be, and that's the kitchen. You can try placing food in other rooms but it seldom works. Rather than fight the inevitable, plan party buffets that incorporate your kitchen islands so you control traffic flow for you and guests.
What do you like best about kitchen islands?
… or maybe you need ideas for your new kitchen island.