If you have enough space, a well-planned central island can become the functional heart of a kitchen, providing extra storage, work surfaces, or a venue for quick meals. An island kitchen is essentially one that is large enough to allow a central working unit. This can be as complex as a custom-built unit, possibly on more than one level, with or without built-in appliances, or as simple as a wheeled work trolley or a table. The island need not be square or rectangular. Depending on the space available, it can be circular, oval, geometric, angled, or an L shape with a cooktop on one arm of the L and a sink or breakfast bar on the other. Installing an island in a large kitchen can help to avoid the problem of an over-extended work triangle as services can be positioned close to each other by installing the cooktop, sink, or cooling equipment in the island. Piping and wiring will need to be run under the floor which will increase installation costs. Because of this disruption, it often isn’t practicable to add an island fitted with appliances or a sink to an existing kitchen. An island without appliances can be just as useful as one with. The base can be a mix of cupboards and open storage, such as pull-out wicker baskets for vegetables, a space for baking trays, a wine rack, and open shelving. The counter can be extended beyond the base at one side to make a breakfast bar, and extra storage can be created by hanging a utensil rack from the ceiling. The possibilities are endless, even if your budget is limited. Finding Space Island kitchens are not suitable for very small rooms as space is needed all around the island to allow cupboard doors both on the island and on the facing runs of base units to open easily. The size of the island depends on the space available, but generally it shouldn’t be any smaller than 23 x 35 in (600 x 900mm). Too big an island can involve unnecessary walking, so don’t be tempted to install a large unit just because there’s enough space for one. The island doesn’t have to be square or rectangular. In a smaller room, a curved island with no corners to knock against may be more convenient than a square or rectangular shape. In a very large room, you could opt for an island based around a rectangle with angled wings at each end, or a multi-purpose, multi-level island with a granite or solid wood work surface at one side and a table at the other for eating. Copyright 2009 Rhonda Morin, MyInteriorDecorator.com. May not be reprinted.