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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 Oh yeah, those have out of date for a long time too or are they back in?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.

                    1. I've had 3 kitchens with islands - I liked my islands, I would design an island into my kitchen again, with a sink at least, maybe a dishwasher (especially if that was the only sink obviously).

                      I do a lot of prep on my island - I roll out pasta on my island, I roll out dough on my island, I knead bread on my island. On the island that had the sink I cut and prepared food on the island. I serve for parties on the island.

                      I do NOT like my burners on the island. i wouldn't do that again.

                      and the difficulty of putting a dishwasher in an island isn't really that different than putting one in anywhere - unless you're just retrofitting into an existing location . . . (unless I guess if you're in an apartment and can't get under the floor to run the water lines. . . .)

                      I think this decorator doesn't cook or entertain enough in their home.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: thimes

                        Re utilities in an island, it can be problematic (not overcomeable) if the house is on a slab.

                      2. It doesn't grab me either way.
                        We kept our island in our redo a year ago. It's LOADED with storage space and the real estate on top is where most of my work is done.
                        That said, who cares what's in and what's out, according to nobody in particular?
                        I read so much of this dreck when I was picking out our new kitchen.

                        I think this is a good jumping off point for discussing the utility of kitchen islands, but as far as someone arbitrarily declaring that they're out?

                        1. When we designed our present house, we planned for an island, but due to some problems with the supplier we put in a 4-ft diameter table instead, intending to install the island later. 15 years later, we still have the table. So convenient for everything from eating to unloading the groceries.

                          To be honest, if it were perfect, there would be a hydraulic lift built-in to raise it from table height to counter height, but hey, to quote Joe E. Brown, "nobody's perfect!"

                          1. One of our daughters and SIL are rehabbing their first home. They're doing an island with their cooktop cause there's really no place else to put it. (They removed a wall to open up the space.) Any opinions or suggestions?

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: c oliver

                              It's hard to make a suggestion without knowing what the space is like but I would not want a cooktop on my island. People hang around there and having hot pots on the cooktop while people are hanging around would be awkward.

                              1. re: valerie

                                By taking down that wall, they really had no choice. But they've had the builder do a high half wall that will have a bar-type counter on it. I had that type of raised counter once, without a cooktop, and I really hated it. I like to be able to put out an assortment of things for people to snack on and that setup only allows for saucer type things. But with the cooktop there, that was probably their only choice. If it were I, I'd have probably swapped the sink and the cooktop though I love having a window when I'm washing dishes.

                              2. re: c oliver

                                Clients of mine remodeled their 1980s kitchen, and included an induction cooktop on the island. It's been a great way to ensure that the person cooking is still able to engage with guests. The island is 3x the size of the cooktop.
                                The island served to DOUBLE the storage space in the kitchen.
                                I love cooking there :)

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  We put an island with a cooktop into our kitchen when we did a complete re-do 25 years ago. We find that the configuration works very well for us. And, it should be noted that we live in a 100-year old traditional house -- i.e., no open floor plan.

                                  The base of the island has storage all around. It has no seating at all (we have a separate eat in area with a table for 4 in the kitchen, as well as a separate dining rooom). There is lots of space on either side of the cooktop for prep and space on the backside where we can stage appetizers or buffets when we are entertaining.

                                  Our only complaint is the lack of good exhaust. We have a down draft in the island and it's not all that effective.

                                  I am attaching a few pictures

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    When we redid our kitchen two years ago, wife considered (for about 10 minutes) putting a cooktop in the island. I asked why and she said she hated lifting heavy pots of water from the sink to the cooktop on a wall counter. I said that's an easy fix. I simply has a potfiller installed over the new cooktop. (a necessity for me as due to medical restrictions I can't lift more than 20 lbs). I also had a sink intalled in the counter to the left of the cooktop. This is where we set to collander to drain pasta.

                                    The other problem with a cooktop on an island is exhausting steam and odors. I don't like a hanging hood and am not a fan of downdraft exhausts. i want an exhaust hood over the cooktop that vent directly to the out of doors.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      Some of the range hoods are gorgeous enough to be sculptures.

                                      Yeah, those potfillers have become quite common in the last number of years.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        we actually have three chandeliers over our island, they are 1/5 th size versions of the chandelier over the table in the dining room

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I don't have a range hood. I have a down draft fan that rises up out of the counter. I don't use it that often but when I do need it I can just flip the switch and up it comes.

                                          1. re: Candy

                                            That is what we have also, Candy. Ours is not all that effective. Our kitchen is itself a "peninsula" that juts out in the back of our house with windows on 3 sides, so we just open the windows, even in the dead of winter to clear the air if it gets really smokey in the kitchen.

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              I had one of those until very recently. It was a total waste of many dollars. Useless. When we began our kitchen renovation it was removed and I donated it to Habitat for Humanity.

                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                            The hood over the cooktop is what we had and still have after our redo.
                                            Our first designer was fixated on moving my cooktop to where there could be no hood/outdoor vent and just assumed I'd wouldn't push back about using downdraft.
                                            She was downright taken back that I had the temerity to voice my opinion!
                                            Yeah, she didn't last...

                                        2. I'm in the "Yea Island" camp; adios to trends or kitchen designers/decorators who say otherwise. Think of this as a critique of hemlines - one year they're low and the next they're high ... and yep, they're still there, just different from time to time. Islands would not have withstood the 'test of time;' if they were not utilitarian. I have both a peninsula and a large island (with sink). We entertain frequently and use each of these extensively.
                                          NB: we deliberately did not build a dining room in this house; lots of history negating this as a viable choice for us.
                                          What should be 'officially passe' are so-called authorities declaring how others should live.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Sherri

                                            I'm curious -- where do you have your primary dining area?

                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                              We have a large round table in the open, great room area that we often use for guests, it can open to seat 10 comfortably, more if we squeeze. There is another good-sized table in the library where my husband and I eat most of our lunches. It too will expand. The peninsula is primarily used for breakfasts and when we have casual guests. Lastly, since we live outside of Phoenix, we have patio dining for much of the year. Lunches and dinners are often eaten there when the weather is nice. We don't actually have a 'primary dining area' but eat where the spirit moves us to be. My husband is burdened with a wife who will move furniture at the drop of a hat so nothing stays put for long. If I feel like eating by the fireplace, that will be our dinner spot tonight.

                                              1. re: Sherri

                                                Sounds like you've got great indoor and outdoor dining choices. If I were building from scratch, I'd also nix the dining room in favor of a great room. By removing walls, extending counters and widening doorways, we've opened up a pretty traditional floor plan so the dining room now looks and feels more-or-less integrated with the kitchen and family room. Not perfect, but much better than having an isolated dining room.

                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  CindyJ, we did build from scratch so were able to direct our space. I've moved around/lived in a lot of houses on both coasts and learned from experience what works for me and what does not. The closed off dining room just did not make the cut. I have had them and chose not to go that route in this wide open, western ranch-ish house. We do have lots of room, most of it open.

                                          2. I've been a kitchen designer for 15 years, had 3 kitchens of my own with islands in them, and included islands in hundreds of my designs. Unless you have a galley kitchen, or simply not enough room, the island is the best prep space in the kitchen. It's usually reachable from the sink, the range, the fridge. It's a landing spot, a place to spread out your ingredients, or do crafts. There's nothing overhead to get in the way of your work. If there are stools, you can do some of your prep sitting down.

                                            I've got a peninsula with a raised snack bar where we serve appetizers while prepping dinner at the island. We use both spaces constantly.
                                            I don't know who the designer is that said islands are passe, but I'd bet money that designer doesn't cook. Cooks have had work tables in the middle of the kitchen for centuries. They weren't called islands then, but workspace is workspace no matter what you call it.

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                                              I read some years ago that dining rooms were passe'. I said BS :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                They were passe when I was a kid! We used the dining room for holidays only. Or jigsaw puzzles.

                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                  As I've said here, when we entertain we might as well not have a living room :) Hours in the dining room.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I don't have either room, I guess. Our empty-nest lake house has one big room that includes the kitchen, dining area and living room area. No walls at all. The only division is the raised bar. Most of our entertaining time is spent at the big dining table.

                                                    When the kids still lived at home (in the old colonial we used to have), we never ate in the kitchen. It was the dining room every night. And we all sat there yacking for hours, too. We had a 9 foot long Island in that kitchen, but that was used for working and visiting, not for meals.

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  I think the dining room that is segregated from the rest of the home winds up getting very little use.
                                                  Our DR is on the other side of our kitchen, and communicated with the kitchen, making it delightful as well as useful for guests.
                                                  In fact, they can still get the feel of being in the kitchen without being underfoot.

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    Ours is almost one big room, the kitchen and dining are separated by the peninsula and the opening to the living room is probably five or six feet wide.

                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                      A dining room gets as much or little use as you decide.
                                                      Our formal dining room is used weekly for sabbath meals and for all holidays and entertaining.

                                                      It is also used when we have the girls home for dinner and they have a friend or two as well. We do not use it as a breakast room.

                                                      It is intentionally segregated from the smelss and noise of the kitchen.

                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                        Yes, the dining room does not do the dictating of its use. That would be one talented dining room.
                                                        And good for you for using your DR.
                                                        A LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTT of people don't.
                                                        But again, good for you!!!!!!!!!!!
                                                        Yay for segregation!!!

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          some segregation is still legal in this country <VBG>

                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                      A dining room is passe if you render it so. We use our dining room every day, for every meal. It's not a showplace or a roped-off area; it's comfortable, casual and definitely useful.

                                                    3. re: kitchengardengal

                                                      Just look at the kitchen in Downton Abbey! :)

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        That's one example I was thinking of! And some historic house tours that we've been on, there often are large worktables in the center.

                                                    4. I agree! Unfortunately right now I have a client who thinks Islands are an absolute necessity for marketing so have been forced to put islands in small apartments where they just dont work - As someone who has lived in small apartments and loves to cook these kitchens suck - they eat space, have no storage and too much circulation but the client thinks they can sell islands. Sure an island can be part of a well designed kitchen but making a bad kitchen just to accommodate an island is throwing baby out with bath-water,

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                        A good designer doesn't make a bad kitchen. Having a bad designer make a bad kitchen doesn't mean islands are passe. It just means they don't work in all circumstances, and your designer needs to brush up on their space planning guidelines.

                                                        Farm tables, for example, are a fashionable piece in the kitchen. Do they fit in all kitchens? No. Would one fit in my square kitchen? No. Does that make them passe? No.

                                                      2. Our open plan kitchen has the sink and cooktop in the L-shaped counter. The counter surfaces are each less than 3 feet. We did not design this kitchen, but it suits the rest of the apartment.
                                                        The island is approx. 4x3 feet, with power outlets, microwave and storage drawers. I can't imagine being as effective a cook without this space.

                                                        1. Sounds like she's isn't a cook. I call bs esp with all the open plan kitchens that around these days they seem like a must. A lot of kitchens would look very weird and be very impractical. And everybody uses them to serve a meal on and use as a counter to prepare a meal and a snack. And they work great in even a medium kitchen. Someone is dreaming.

                                                          1. I am fortunate enough that my kitchen is rather huge and my center island plays a very active role in our kitchen. It is used frequently for both prep and for service. It is strictly a center island, no sink, no dishwasher, no stove. It is two level (see pic) and it easily accommodates about 8 chaffing dishes on the lower level and condiments etc. on the higher level. I would be lost with out it.

                                                            (side note; this picture is of a holiday get together I had for my family between Christmas and New Years, the picture was take December 28th, 2013. My mom pictured at the end of the counter island passed away two days later the morning of Dec. 30th. This is one of the last pictures I have of her. RIP Mom)

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                              May I have a slice of that cherry cheesecake, please??

                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                And of course your food looks scrumptious!

                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                  Nice picture. My kitchen is painted the exact same color and same doors - built 1998.

                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                    Nice island and lovely picture of your mother.

                                                                  2. Well of course the designer thinks having islands is passe now. After having installed islands in all her clients kitchens, how else do you get them to redo their kitchens again other than by telling them the kitchens are out of style?

                                                                    1. I don't agree with that famous interior designer. I have cooked in two kitchens that are not overly large and each feature a very large island that serves at various times as prep space, buffet table, place to stand around with drinks to chat, and eating area with stools. I like 'em.

                                                                      That said, my kitchen has neither enough space nor the right layout for an island. I have a peninsula. Counters are generally in u shape with the closed end against the wall/casement window and shorter peninsula side where you exit into the adjacent eating space. Works great for me.

                                                                      1. I think there are many kitchen designers out there who don't cook or entertain, or both.
                                                                        Our first designer was a disaster on many levels and would have spouted some BS like "islands are so yesterday!".

                                                                        Know thyself, I say!

                                                                        1. My first slightly snarky comment would be: Why should I care what a famous interior director thinks about MY kitchen?

                                                                          I love my island. We had a rather small kitchen from the time we got married in 1985 until we moved into our current house in 1997. Unlike many of the people in my neighborhood, I keep it clear of clutter (many use it as a "junk-catcher"); the only thing on the counter is a stack of three or four cookbooks I'm currently cooking from.

                                                                          My wife and I will occasionally eat lunch at the island on the weekends, but it's mostly for food prep, as well as some other "study" types of tasks not related to food.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                            Your first comment is spot on, and would be the first piece of advice I'd give to anyone remodeling or updating etc.

                                                                          2. Well, the start of this thread some up a lot for me.
                                                                            “a famous interior decorator”
                                                                            Most kitchens I’ve seen or been in, designed by a decorator, don’t function worth a d**n. They look nice, but they can be a PITA to work in. I’ve worked in several kitchens that have islands and I loved them. As far as I’m concerned, the extra storage space and counter space are godsends. The only caveat to this is there has to be the space to put one in. I’ve seen kitchens where somebody had to have an island, even though there was obviously no room for it.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: mike0989

                                                                              My wife is a designer...she went to school for it. A designer is not the same thing as a decorator. A decorator takes a design that has been executed and deals with paint, fabric, wall and floor coverings etc.

                                                                              A decorator would have no busines declaring any design element passe. A decorator could say a certain color is out of style or stainless appliances are so 1990s.

                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                Well, I might go along with the stainless steel indictment :)

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  In fact, wife was upset that she couldn't get the cooktop she wanted, 6 commercial high BTU burners and a griddle in any finish except stainless, so we had additional cabinetry trim made hide the stainless from the front view. The wall ovens and the SubZeros all have matching cabinet fronts, as do the dishwashers, trash compactors and warming drawers. We had to have an auto paint shop custom spray the metal trim of the wine cooler door, as it was only available in black or white and din't go with our cabinet colors.

                                                                                  We were very lucky, two years ago, when Clive Christian shut down his American showrooms, we were able to buy the complete showroom model at a savings of more than 125K. Just one of the perks of the trade for Mrs. B. She'd designed enough and sold enough of their Kitchens that she was offered an early choice.

                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                    Can't imagine not having induction.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      It is on my list for the next home. I use a single induction burner so I can get used to how to cook some things that could be iffy on induction like rice.

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    I am going to buy a new fridge in a few months. I was very relieved that it is available in white, special order of course.

                                                                                    When I was in college the foods lab kitchen I was assigned to had stainless counter tops. I hated them and still am not crazy about stainless now. That was about 40 years ago.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      Oh man, I'm with you there. I can't understand how stainless steel became associated with quality or pro style. Hey folks, it's just a different finsh. You see these house shopping shows and the buyers gush over them. I look, and all I'm seeing is what I'd consider Contractor grade appliances.

                                                                                      1. re: mike0989

                                                                                        And they show every smudge/fingerprint. I watch those shows and those same buyers will go 'oh, no, no stainless appliances.' I want to slap them :)

                                                                                2. My previous house had one. I miss it. It was a 5x6 foot blank countertop. It was just the 2 of us, so we ate all of our meals there. All of my prep work, kneading bread, etc. The stove was a step behind me, the fridge a step the other. The sink 2 steps away.

                                                                                  And for having big groups over, cover that thing with food and let them go. It had an electoral outlet so I could plug in crock pots, etc.

                                                                                  Current house doesn't have one, and I doubt one will be feasible when we remodel. But I miss my first kitchen . . .

                                                                                  1. In some ways I''m glad to see islands declared "passe" just so that ~every~ person (and their dog) who owns a kitchen won't think they absolutely must have one.

                                                                                    Don't get me wrong; islands can be wonderful wonderful things. They solve many design problems in larger spaces and especially in the "open concept" floor plans and in kitchens shared by multiple cooks. In most "square" spaces they can save a cook steps and make the space more efficient.

                                                                                    But honestly, I'll be happy so see islands disappear from kitchens that don't really ~need~ an island. I've seen far too many crammed into a floor plan just so the Realtor can gush "Island Kitchen" in the advertisement.

                                                                                    1. Unless said designer is redoing and paying for my kitchen, what I want to go in it, goes in it. Passe or not, your kitchen should be what works for you and your budget.

                                                                                      Trends be dammed!

                                                                                      1. I love our island. Now granted, we just moved into our first home that we *own*, and the kitchen in the rental that we had before this was awful - the table was the only space that we could do prep. Our island doesn't have a sink or a cooktop, but the storage space is great, and I love using it as a prep spot.

                                                                                        My husband and stepdaughter often eat at the island. This is a great arrangement for us. My medical issues means that I very rarely can eat when they do, and I can still talk to them during meals while I clean up the kitchen and do other things.

                                                                                        1. I happen to be married to a female decorator/designer who totally disagrees with this premise.

                                                                                          That said, Mrs B comments that "the problem with most kitchen islands is that they are TOO SMALL to be properly used."
                                                                                          Mrs. B also says that this 'famous' decorator is dealing with the economic realities of the post Bush recession and as her clients have limited budgets (and yes saying one will spend only 80k instead of 125k on a kitchen is a limited budget) she is saying that an item which is costly is passe. She can cut the cost and size of a proposed kitchen by 30% by eliminating the island>>>>need we say hello 1950s?

                                                                                          Yes this necessitates a large kitchen.

                                                                                          Our kitchen island is 4.5 feet wide by 12 feet long. This is not oversized in a 600 sq foot kitchen. It has a double sink and two dishwashers. It also has garbage compactors under the extreme left and extreme right of the island--great when two of us are cooking or prepping at the same time. We have 6 seats at the island (but can accomodate 8), and it is not a 'mini' table (or mini anything) but where the family eats weekday meals.

                                                                                          We have our main kitchen on the first floor of our house with a full basement below. It was very easy to install the island and just run electricity and plumbing up through the floor to the island. This cost not one cent more than running the same electricity and plumbing to sinks and appliances built into wall counter locations.. It would only cost more if your home was built on a slab, or if your kitchen is on an upper floor (and for apartment dwellers).

                                                                                          Our island is definitely NOT impractical, no indoor kitchen facility is by definition 'necessary' we could cook in the central hearth and oven....our home was initially built in 1803, and didn't have a kitchen added on until 1860.

                                                                                          I've attached a picture of the island as it was being layed out in our garage before being moved into and assembled in the kitchen (no faucets or seating shown)

                                                                                          and the oven built into the hearth by our main fireplace....when we have lost power/heat/electricity due to winter storms we do cook here

                                                                                          1. That seems to be a bit short sighted. I do have a good sized kitchen. I have an island and my cook top is in the island. Also at the right hand side of the cooktop where my trash bin is is where I do most prep, rolling out dough etc. I have a full sized wall oven (mistake I should have had 2 installed) next to another counter against a wall. That counter is home to my food processor and stand mixer. Another counter top behind the cooktop is where the sinks, and dishwasher are. Fridge is adjacent. I put the cook top in the island because we cook a lot and guests seem to congregate in the kitchen. I have stools opposite the cooktop where people can sit and we can talk.

                                                                                            I had some students in for a demonstration class on Asian dumplings and they were able to sit and watch and taste. Trying to do something with a cooktop facing a wall would have been very difficult. It is hard to teach a technique with your back to the students or for that matter, guests.

                                                                                            I am planning a new kitchen when we move and the cooktop will be in the island (induction) and I will have two full sized wall ovens. I most definitely do not want ovens under a counter.

                                                                                            1. So envious of folk who can afford large homes that will accommodate a large kitchen. An island wouild be fantastic.

                                                                                              Mine (kitchen not home) is 4M x 2.5M which is plenty of space to prepare and cook food which, I suppose, is all I really need from a kitchen.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                My dream kitchen has a huge island with seating so I can play "TV Cooking Show Host" and spend hours making little plates to nosh on.

                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                  Your kitchen is huge!! (compared to mine) :)

                                                                                                  And I think I prepare some pretty damned good meals out of my wee space. It's just not a gathering place.

                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                    Don't be envious, There is a lot more to keep clean than in a small one. But as a few of us have said our kitchens are a gathering space as well as a space for cooking.

                                                                                                  2. As someone with a design and planning degree (5 year University degree--not draw Tippy the Turtle) and 20+ years of design and planning experience , what she says is bunk.

                                                                                                    I'd be hiring another professional and ditching that one in a heatbeat.

                                                                                                    Certain spaces need certain special unique solutions, but as an "overall" blanket statement? No.

                                                                                                    As for "difficult to install"?


                                                                                                    Plumbing is easy. Not often cheap, but easy.
                                                                                                    Routing an exhaust duct/vent line for cooktops in islands is far far more of a challenge than plumbing.

                                                                                                    Feed Water is pressurized. Waste water just needs gravity.

                                                                                                    Interior decorators.
                                                                                                    They have thier place. The kitchen--not so much.

                                                                                                    YOu have to do what's best for you, but when you have the room for islands or peninsula countertops, they are often very useful.

                                                                                                    1. Well, this kinda makes me feel better. I can now stop pointlessly hungering for one since it would never fit in my tiny kitchen. Kind of like my desperate wish for Corian countertops in the 1990s. In fact, my 80s kitchen with its super nasty pink and blue floral wallpaper is probably almost retro chic now. Now, If only stainless steel would become passé. :(

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                        According to many sources, SS is already passé.

                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                          LOL, even better! And, I heard wallpaper is coming back, my lucky day!

                                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                                            What I mean is that you will be able to find opinions that agree and that disagree with your vision of your kitchen.
                                                                                                            After a while, I just said "screw it" and went with what I wanted, since I'm paying for it.
                                                                                                            I didn't do anything crazy, like go full-on retro and equip my kitchen with Golden Harvest or Avocado Green appliances (a bold move), but I did do SS appliances, and I think they look fabulous.
                                                                                                            I think it's good to stay somewhat on trend if you don't plan on leaving your home in a pine box, but at some point, it was good for me to stop reading about what all the "experts" and prognosticators had to say, and have the courage of my convictions and pull the damn trigger!

                                                                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                                                                            "Harvest Gold" is looking ready to make a big comeback.

                                                                                                            You heard it here first Chowhounds.


                                                                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                              I *swear* I actually read that somewhere!

                                                                                                        2. I always thought they were there to break up a large kitchen. We have one now, and I hate the island and big kitchen. Galley and small square kitchens are much easier to cook in, as the work triangle in more efficient. We are moving and the place has a smaller kitchen. I am so thankful.

                                                                                                          1. Oops, I meant to reply to Habbert about his question about making dishes kosher again.- Generally, after 5 years, dishes are kashered if unused and thickly glazed. There are methods of kashering things that involve boiling water or heating until red hot as well. It depends on how absorbent the material is as to whether it can be kashered. I worked for an Orthodox Jewish family for a year and learned a lot and asked many questions.