New trends in kitchen islands for 2022.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in March/April 2022
Kitchen islands have been a staple in kitchen design since the peninsula concept faded out in the early 1980s. Recently the island concept has become more than just a practical idea. The island is a key element, central to the kitchen’s design.
Oversized islands continue to be the most popular option when the square footage warrants it.
“When it comes to size,” says AIM Kitchen & Bath’s Deb Pudenz, “we can’t stress enough the importance of making sure the island stays proportionate for the available space. As much as a client may want an oversized island, not every space can handle one.”
Nevertheless, according to Jean Nicholls of Moehl Millwork, “The days of small islands are a thing of the past.”
Today’s open floor plans allow for more-spacious center islands, which often serve as a focal point, statement piece, and full-function work space all at once.
“Large islands are common,” says Woodharbor’s Jill Lampe. “If the homeowners have the room, maximizing the size of the island is a great idea. Sometimes a double island is possible, which allows you to break up the social and work spaces while still allowing the cook to be a part of the conversation.”
Double islands are a growing trend, with two smaller islands that allow multiple work areas as well as additional traffic flow.
Whether it’s one island or two, creating a space that functions well is the absolute key to the design.
“Islands are being used for more than cooking and prep these days,” says Barb Hyde of BLC Projects. “Homeowners are crafting on them, doing homework and projects, and using them as primary dining space.”
Because islands are serving different purposes for different families, their design is often as individual as those families.
“It seems that all of my islands now have custom storage that is specific to a client’s needs,” Lampe says. “The most requested storage seems to be for dishes, linens, silverware, etc., that is easily accessible, especially since many families are eating around the island or at a table nearby.”
Larger-scale islands also allow for additional functions.
“One of the most common features we add to an island is a drawer microwave,” Pudenz says. “This not only makes it less visible but more functional. If the sink is in the island, often the dishwasher and trash pullout will be housed there, too, and beverage drawers also work well in the island.”
Nicholls says, “Large, one-level islands allow for easier gathering places in open floor plans. Homeowners still want storage, but we’re adding back-to-back cabinets with decorative, usable space on the ends, as well as trash bases, large storage drawers for pots and pans, and prep sinks, too.”
More beautiful than ever
Functional can still be attractive, and island designs have become statement pieces in many kitchens.
“Very often we use contrasting colors,” says Hyde. “Many people are leery of doing the entire kitchen in a dark or gray, but they’re more comfortable using it just on the island. Sometimes we use a contrasting countertop for the island as well.”
“Greens and blues are especially popular right now,” says Lampe. “Clients may do wood or a neutral painted cabinet around the perimeter, but the island in a nice color with bold quartz or statement granite.”
Pudenz is seeing this same trend. “I would say almost every island we complete is contrasting in either cabinet color or countertop material,” she says.
For homeowners who want to make more of a statement with their island, designers are adding one-of-a-kind touches.
“I like the waterfall sides done with quartz at the island countertops, allowing cover for the cabinets as well as the overhang for seating,” Hyde says.
Lampe says she’s created several unique island designs for clients.“We created a retro stacked, layered-wood look on the back side of an island that made the kitchen really stand out,” she says. “One of my favorite islands was a work island in a white kitchen. It had simple, basic drawer storage with wainscoting around it and a classic white and gray marble top. I don’t recommend marble for every client, but this one was a baker, and she was comfortable letting life and the natural wear happen with the material.”
Nicholls says, “Islands used to only be a small addition to help with food prep or to add a little storage. They’re much more than that now.”
These days, the kitchen’s design revolves around the island. It’s literally and figuratively the center of it all. •
- Deb Pudenz AIM Kitchen & Bath
- Barb Hyde BLC Projects
- Jean Nicholls Moehl Millwork
- Jill Lampe Woodharbor