We’ve always felt like this island would be worthy of an article all on its own because it is two completely different islands built into one. Kitchen Encounters was hired for this project only to do the island. The existing space was nice but boring with plain white cabinets and a nonfunctional work space.

The new island has a black granite surface with a thick cherry wood top that follows the angular shape of the cabinets and separates the kitchen from the dining room. There’s a soft round over edge that allows for more comfort while sitting at the breakfast bar which accommodates three stools.

To reach the end product, we looked at 6-7 different options for islands of different shapes and features. Selecting features of different ideas led to this island design which created more work space between the sink and the cook top and created more storage underneath with wide, deep doors. When standing inside the kitchen looking toward the dining room, the cherry cabinets and counter top offer a more formal appearance. From the dining side, the inside angle created more room to move around and also gave space for a wine bar. The raised counter top also conceals any mess from the work area. The outside surfaces were weathered and worn from a multi-step finish to create the greenish cabinets that compliment the antique cupboard against the side wall. This particular project exhibits the use of a wood top and varied heights with an interesting shape.

The key points to designing this, or any countertop, island, or project are to consider a variety of options and to brainstorm with the client. Should always be open minded and keep an eye on magazines and new introductions from manufacturers. In more recent years, there has definitely been more interest in health and safety and environmentally sensitive product choices.

The standard 36” work surface and 42” bar height are most frequently used for islands; however, on some projects the work surface will be raised for a taller client or a lower surface will be created for certain tasks.

This project was most interesting because the back side of the island facing the dining area has a wine cooler as well as extra space for a liquor cabinet and bar tools, such as bottle openers, wine keys, and mixing materials. Without remodeling the whole kitchen, this island gave it a whole new look while making it much more functional.

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