What you should consider when planning a kitchen island unit

Island units are one of the most sought after items in a new kitchen, with most homeowners choosing to have one if they have the space. Here are some tips when planning your kitchen island unit, with expert advice from Rubina Hughes from Zara Kitchen Designs.

What's the smallest size for an island unit?

Don't try and squeeze an island unit into a small space just because you want one - it won't look right and it could spoil the look of the kitchen altogether. "The smallest we would recommend for an island unit is 60cm deep plus an overhang of 30cm, so that you can comfortably get your knees under," says Rubina. "And make sure you choose at least a double cupboard wide which would be 120cm, this way it won't look too small."

Leave enough space between the island and the cabinets on the other side. "If there are appliances on both sides then you will likely have people standing back to back, so you are best to leave at least 90cm." explained Rubina. "Consider the proportions of the room and the depth of the doors on either side too."

Island unit from Zara Kitchen Designs

Are there any gadgets that are ideal on an island unit?

A large island unit can hold some great gadgets that make your kitchen practical as well as look modern and stylish. "Pop up sockets are popular as people don’t want sockets visible at the end of their island as they mess up clean lines of the panel."

Also consider gadgets that help with the preparation of food. "Some customers like to keep the hot tap on the island separate to the standard taps, to avoid any accidents with their children. Often the hot tap is kept with a prep sink too, which allows you to prepare food whilst chatting to family and friends," says Rubina. "Another popular gadget in the island unit is the wine cooler which can look really smart."

What appliances are popular in island units?

Both hobs and sinks are popular in the island and allow you to socialise whilst cooking. "A hob is a very popular option, but you must consider the ventilation. You can either go for an extractor fan, which is the traditional option, or a downdraft extractor which will pop up from the work surface. Downdrafts are a great option if you have a roof lantern and can't install a traditional extractor fan." explains Rubina.

Island unit from Zara Kitchen Designs

What styles of kitchen island units are popular?

A square island is still the most popular shape with three or four bar stools in a row. "Customers are trying to add a bit of interest to the traditional island unit - such as adding an l-shape where an additional stool can be placed around the side of the island unit." says Rubina.

Mixing the worktops can also make your island look striking and add texture. "Greys and whites are such a popular choice in a modern kitchen but can be quite stark, so customers often want to mix some wood into the island to add some warmth and a natural material. It's popular to see an island unit with a mixture of Silestone and wood, for example."

What are the lighting options for a kitchen island?

Pendant lights are so popular over island units and add some style to the kitchen - copper pendants are a key trend right now and looks good mixed with wood. "Consider the size of the pendant lights and make sure they are not too big and you can clearly see under them. Don't over-clutter the space and don't put them next to an extractor fan," explains Rubina. "LED strips under the worktops are also very popular and look great in ultra modern kitchens."

Island unit with a mixture of wood and Silestone, from Zara Kitchen Designs

What if I can't quite fit in an island unit?

Peninsulas are a great option if you can't fit an island unit, particularly if you have a long thin room. "Another option is to consider an island against a wall. You can have an area to walk around and also have seating and appliances. You will get the look of an island unit but it will fit into your room easier." explains Rubina

Island unit against a wall from Zara Kitchen Designs

For some more beautiful island units, head over to our article Inspiring kitchens with islands!

Published: August 8, 2018

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