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The Island In Your Kitchen

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I read today that a famous interior decorator (female) has proclaimed that Kitchen Islands are now officially passe.
Not only that, they were never practical to begin with; it takes up too much needed space unless you have a huge, huge kitchen. Furthermore, if the island has a sink and dishwasher built in it is expensive and difficult to install. Finally, nobody really uses the island as a mini-table to serve a meal on or as a counter to prepare a meal or snack. In other words it is impractical and unnecessary. How does this grab you?

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  1. I have a large island with a dishwasher and sink. We did not design the kitchen...it was here when we bought the house. Does my family eat at the island? Just the kids.

    But the island is the area where I do all the food prep, every single bit. And when we have friends over, they sit on the stools while I prepare stuff. And it's where I put out hors d'oeuvres so everyone hangs out around the island.

    Not sure why it would be considered impractical or unnecessary.

    1. Islandless kitchen may be the thing now but how long before people want them back

      Mine is a somewhat large and is a great space to prep dinner. We do eat in the kitchen most nights unless entertaining when we use the dinning room. Oh yeah, those have out of date for a long time too or are they back in?

      12 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        From an entertaining standpoint, I don't know why we have a living room :) People start out at the peninsula (does that count as an island equivalent?), move to the dining table and then (hours later) go home.

        1. re: c oliver

          It's all about layout, traffic flow, and how much space you have. As well as how you control the flow.

          That said our kitchen has doors that lock. Guests are not really welcome in the kitchen when we entertain.

          This past Saturday night my girls made a surprise 60th birthday party for me. When wife and I came home from an early supper out, we entered the front door and found the living room empty of people with just mood lighting on. As we walked down the gallery towards our bedroom wing to change we found all our guests gathered in the sunroom (14x30) where drinks and hors d'oeuvres were set. We visited with guests in the sunroom until 9PM when a light supper was served in the dining room. Our dining room has built ins with wine cooler, ice maker, dishwasher drawers for teh crystal and silver, so there is no need for a guest to come t the kitchen. At 10 pm the party moved to the living room (seats 20 and has a grand piano) and enjoyed coffee, cake and conversation before a fire in the hearth until after midnight.

          We make great use of all the many rooms in our home. We do have a formal dining room (at my insistence), a formal living room (that gets used regularly) a sunroom for informal gatherings that opens out to the pool and hot tub and a family den. All of these spaces get used regularly for social reasons. BothMrs. B and I have our professional offices attached to the home with separate outside entrances for clients. She is a builder/designer/realtor, so our home is also her portfolio. It is our vacation destination. We seldom have the need or desire to get away. We have the vacation amenities (besides weather and beach sand) right here and with 4 dogs and two cats it's not easy to go away often.

            1. re: bagelman01

              ==========

              That said our kitchen has doors that lock. Guests are not really welcome in the kitchen when we entertain.

              -------------

              Why would you lock up your kitchen to guests?

              If guests are not trustworthy of your kitchen, then don't invite them.

              That's one place I;d never have a problem with outsiders.

              God forbid they look in your medicine cabinets in the bathroom.
              Do you make them pee outside or go nextdoor?

              Srsly curious.

              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                During a party, a kitchen can be a dangerous place, wet and/or slippery floors, it may be unsightly with dirty pots, pans, etc. or those engaged in cooking and/or serving do not need to be interrupted by people wandering through.

                The kitchen is a working area of our house, not an entertainment space. It is not a matter of trust. The sterling, fine crystal and china are in the dining room where the guests are, not in the kitchen.

                AND on a separate note: we have a kosher kitchen but have many non family members and non-observant guests in our home (including non-Jews). It is better to restrict access to the kitchen then to have to watch carefully every movement by a guest who enters the kitchen and wouldn't/doesn't know what is meat, what is dairy, where they go, etc.

                A guest may think they are being helpful by going into the kitchen to get some more cream for the sfter dinner coffee, but may not realize that what is in the crystal pitcher on the dining table is actually almond milk. A simple act of trying to not bother the host could end up with cream being poured into expensive china cups from a 'meat' service rendering them unfit for any further use in our home. Far cheaper to have the kitchen locked and pay professional help when we entertain large groups.

                Similarly, guests (especially business guests and not very close friends) mean well when they arrive and have a food/wine gift in hand. This prevents them from bringing it into the kitchen and perhaps using our utensils to set up for serving, etc. We gladly accept these host/ess gifts in our vestibule and announce, we'll just take it out to the garage fridge, the kitchen fridge is full. Gives us a chance to check and see if the item is kosher or not, and meat, dairy, neutral.
                Example....last Saturday night we had a borthday party at the house. A cousin of Mrs. B and her husband came from out of town. Cousin announced to Mrs. B "Since I know you keepkosher, I made a special stop at XXX Bakery to buy this special dessert." We appreciate the effort, but the box was quickly dispatched to the garage fridge. During the evening I checked and sure enough it was Dairy and we were serving a meat meal that evening.

                By the time dessert came around, wife explained to her cousin, that we were all so full that she was saving the special dessert for brunch Sunday morning.

                Since you were seriously curious, you got a serious explanation.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  It is not a matter of trust...

                  unless they are your daughters friends...

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Is there a way to "cleanse" a dish and switch it from meat to dairy or vice versa? I've learned so much reading the kosher threads on CH...far more than I ever knew growing up Irish Catholic in rural Virginia!

                    1. re: Hobbert

                      Many people consider glass neutral and use it for both. This does NOT include permeable glass products such as Pyrex.
                      But you cannot 'cleanse' a meat dish and then use it as dairy or vice versa.

            2. re: scubadoo97

              When I married Mrs. B, I moved into her home and sold mine. It had a large kitchen with an island that sat 3 and a dining area with a table that sat 8.

              I had never lived without a formal dining room and hated this.
              So the plans were drawn and permits obtained and my checkbook opened. The kitchen was expanded to 600 sq feet with a 50 sq ft island that regularly seats 6, no dining table in the kitchen and a formal dining room built where the 16x24 patio used to be off the kitchen. The dining room has a tble and 12 chairs. It is used every Friday Night for sabbath dinner and for holidays and entertaining.

              My wife had built homes for her sister and mother approx 2000 and neither of those homes has a formal dining room. That was the style then, but both of these ladies regret it. Unfortunately neither of those homes can have a dining room added on due to zoning restrictions and lot size.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                We would not want a home without a dining room. We do eat in the kitchen most of the time but when entertaining the dining room is a must for us.

              2. Honestly? I agree, unless it's in an open concept floor plan and the island functions as half the kitchen, has stools on one side, etc. But if you have a large kitchen with counters on 2-3 sides, I find an island just gets in the way.

                1. Sounds about right to me.

                  For years I saw the pix in the mags and lusted for one. When we actually redesigned our kitchen about 6 years ago I thought it might be a possibility but, alas!, no dice. So I sat down and did some research -- some of which was monitoring my own movements while I worked -- and decided that a galley kitchen is still the most efficient work area.

                  I did design in a separate baking area at kneading/rolling height but, besides that, the ole' sink/fridge/oven triangle means nothing out of reach and nothing to have to move around!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rainey

                    My kitchen is a take on a galley kitchen, but instead of two walls of counters/appliances, I have two parallel peninsulas, one is 8', the other is 9', about 6' apart. It's a relatively small space, but incredibly efficient, and because it's open to other rooms on three sides, it doesn't feel cramped or closed in at all.

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      Sounds something like mine.

                      I have one bank of cabinets/counter on the exterior wall and a second parallel one that ends in an open peninsula that divides the space from the family room. It works and feels great.

                  2. I wish I had room for a nice big one, but right now I have a roughly 30"x 40" enamel-top work table, an antique Sellers piece we bought at a mall when we lived in Nashville, and it almost fills the available space. An island not much bigger than that would actually be more useful; there's no point plumbing it but I would have power outlets and a knife slot, and set the top at a better height for me – that table was made for 1930s women, not 6' men! If we ever do get around to a kitchen remodel, we'll remove the drop ceiling to get its old height back, and then I can have my overhead pot rack, and more storage in the island. No, I don't think islands are unnecessary if your kitchen is roughly square, especially if it has to be open to through traffic as ours does. From scratch I'd say go for a galley with no through traffic, and no island, but this was laid out 106 years ago and I'm stuck with it.