Why Kitchen Islands Are a Big Design Mistake

When redoing a kitchen or shopping for a new home, people want kitchen islands. However, this can be a huge design mistake. Find out why you shouldn’t want to have an island in your kitchen, ahead.

No one sits at a kitchen island

The stools are essentially decorative. | iStock/Getty Images

“You can put out all the stools you’d like, but the island is likely the last place guests will sit,” Brie Dyas of House Beautiful, writes. Dyas makes a good point. I too have a kitchen island with stools and I never sit in them. “Have you ever actually tried to sit comfortably at an island unit? It just feels like eating at the office canteen – a bit cold and institutional,” Alison Cork, the presenter of Cowboy Builders, told the Daily Mail. Dyas and Cork are right. I never sit at anyone’s kitchen island, let alone my own.

Kitchen islands attract clutter

Your island will look like this for approximately five minutes before it gets cluttered. | iStock/Getty Images

I can personally attest to this statement. My kitchen island is always cluttered. For those in my house, and many others, the island is used as a place to litter. “There is nothing worse than a dead area in the room which everybody uses as a dumping ground for their post and bank statements,” Ania Choroszczynska, interior designer and owner and founder of Anna Fennet Design, told the Daily Mail.

They require constant cleaning

Assortment of cleaning supplies

Kitchen islands require lots of cleaning. | Jevtic/iStock/Getty Images

Kitchen islands must be cleaned often because they attract clutter. “Please be aware it will require constant cleaning, and if that isn’t your thing, then an island is definitely not for you,” Rebecca Dupere, owner of Dupere Design, told the Daily Mail. If you already have a kitchen island, expect to be cleaning constantly.

Kitchen islands aren’t functional

Beautifully designed kitchen

Most of the time people are in the way. | Jun Zhang/iStock/Getty Images

While the thought of gathering around a kitchen island sounds appealing, the act itself is uncomfortable. “Because the island acts as natural hub for guests it makes it virtually impossible to extract anything from drawers and cupboards, let alone use the workspace,” Dupere added. Guests will constantly move to accommodate a busy host preparing a meal. In practice, kitchen islands aren’t as functional as we’d like them to be.

They’re hard to get right

Scandinavian classic kitchen with wooden and white details

Kitchen islands can be too big or too small.| EloisaConti/iStock/Getty Images

Designing a kitchen island is more complex that it may seem. A too big or too small island can both cause problems. “Kitchen islands can waste a lot of space, […] if you don’t have room you’re just going to hem yourself in,” Anne Haimes, owner of Anne Haimes Interiors, told the Daily Mail. Having a too small kitchen island “will be a pointless obstruction, and too small to have a purpose,” Haimes added.

Kept clear, kitchen islands still look messy

Anything on top will make it look cluttered. | iStock/Getty Images

The fact that “everything’s a focal point,” is a problem for Dyas and her kitchen island. “There’s still a heavy butcher block cutting board and a toaster on it, which just make it look cluttered,” she says. The lesson of Dyas’ story is to be strategic about whether or not to have a kitchen island. If you already have a kitchen island, be strategic about the items on your counter.

Everyone sees what’s happening in the kitchen

Kitchen with pendant lighting and stools

There’s no cooking privacy. | lockongraphics/iStock

“We live in a culture that has been trained by the Food Network to view cooking—literally, to observe it like spectators—as a neat, graceful process,” J. Bryan Lowder of Slate says. However, every home cook knows what it’s really like in the kitchen. Often, cooking’s not a graceful process. Glass shatters, pots boil over, and skin gets burned. Consider that if you’re on the fence about installing an island in your kitchen.

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