Island Kitchens, Part 3

Working Height Make sure the island is at the right working height for you. Standard working height is 36in (900mm), but some feel that the ideal height for cooking, kneading bread, and other culinary tasks is 31 -33 in (800-850mm). Achieve this by either reducing the whole island height or part of it. If you want it to double as a breakfast bar, lower the cooking and working areas only so that the top is on two levels.

On Top If you are installing an additional cook-top into the countertop, the range hood will help to make the island into a focal point. There are several other ways to give dramatic overhead impact to a simple working island.

  • A hanging canopy makes the perfect home for trailing green plants such as English or grape ivy. Both flourish in a warm, steamy kitchen atmosphere. If the canopy is slatted, you can hang utensils from the underside.
  • Make a utensil hanger from an old-fashioned clothes drier. Make sure that it is securely fixed to the ceiling with butterfly bolts or it might collapse under the weight of pots and pans.
  • Hang a simple wooden or metal rail from chains and use it for tying up bunches of dried flowers and herbs, and strings of garlic and onions.
  • Fit a billiard table-style light or a pull-down light fixture above the island to illuminate the surface.

The Base Make the base of the island unit really work for you with these simple ideas:

  • Attach wooden rollers to the side of the island for kitchen towel, dish towels, foil, and food wraps.
  • Install a kick space heater in the plinth for instant warmth.
  • Leave a space between units or appliances for trays or wooden chopping boards. Fit the space with telescoping rails if you need somewhere to hang dish towels and oven gloves.
  • If space is limited, use sliding or bi-fold doors on island base cupboards.
  • Deep drawers are useful for storing casseroles, saucepans, baking tins, and electrical appliances.
  • If you collect cookbooks, fit bookshelves to the base – small, shallow ones for standard paperbacks; larger, deeper shelves for bigger books.

Copyright 2009 Rhonda Morin, May not be reprinted.

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