What are your thoughts on "double" islands

leightxApril 14, 2013

I've seen this configuation quite a bit with open kitchen / great rooms, and it seems to make sense, I wonder how practical it is - does the middle island get in the way?

Here's the kitchen that I love the layout of in theory. I'm not so sure about the pie shaped middle island?

Also - the one-level islands seem to be the way everyone is going. I love the look - but is it annoying to have a pile of dishes in the sink while everyone is sitting right across? We aren't particularly OCD about dishes, but I'm not sure if it would get to me or not.

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I'm doing something similar. I can't tell you yet as I am not done, but will be soon. In my mind it completely depends on how much you will use that center island, and what function it has.

Mine will have a sink and be made of butcher block. It is my primary prep site for chopping and ingredient landing from the fridge. It is directly across from my cooking bank, including a steam oven that will hopefully get me cooking more vegees.
I actually am maximizing the sink by using an unusal sink with a built in cutting board. This will give me more prep space when I need it, or more sink when I need it. Google Franke Beaches.

Anyway the idea is to maximize places people can work. Ideally I will have 3 or so places to do three different things, and maybe with three different people as my MIL like to get into the mix sometimes.
The pic above, not sure why I would have that table there except to fill the space. Maybe for rolling dough at most.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Yes - I think a center island with a prep sink would be ideal. I think they went with the table look because the lines need to mimic the outer curved bar. Hmmm.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:52AM
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I ws considering the same layout early on in our design process, but I thought about walking traffic through the kitchen and decided against it. Or mudroom is next to the kitchen and foot traffic would have either been in front of our range or the fridge and I didn't like the thought of either. I decided on a galley style kitchen but with one side as an island that is open to the family room. I, too, was concerned about the dirty dishes thing, but I decided a large sink basin sink would allow me to hide many things until clean up time.

I think two island kitchens can work well, but make sure that the outer island is not one that is part of your regular work triangle so the other island does not become a barrier,

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Re: using a two-level island to hide used dishes over by the sink. A better way to keep the waiting-to-be-washed stuff out of sight is having a large single basin sink. Single level islands/peninsulas are hugely valuable real estate for all sorts of kitchen tasks, plus other family activities. Think craft projects and such.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 11:15AM
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I have no objections to double islands if they are carefully planned. No logical reason I can see that they could not work efficiently.

However, in the layout the OP posted, what would the outer counter be used for? For Prep? It is too far from the range/stove. But it appears to be contain the only sink. So the curved counter must be planned to double for prep and cleanup.

Cleanup? Really? Right next to the counter seating area and highly visible to adjacent areas? And is there enough convenient storage for dishes and such as they come out of the DW which appears to be on the end of the curve.

And the inner "island" is very small for a work area, has no water and no convenient storage, and appears to interfere with traffic back and forth between fridge, sink, and stove. I cannot imagine choosing to work on it.

I think I would really find this an inconvenient workspace.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I would increase the size of the inner island for sure, and add a prep sink and storage.

Almost every new house we've looked at has had the one-level island with a sink and seating. I'm wondering if that is practical, but I also would hate doing dishes even more facing a wall. But of course you would have to transport your dishes to an adjacent wall of cabinets for storage. I just don't see many kitchen sinks that are on the same wall / space as the upper cabinets in any house I've been in lately. I love the way it looks, but i'm not sure on functionality.

I think the main function of the outer island would be for eating (and washing dishes) - at least in our lives. And also craft projects / homework / etc - like suzannesl mentioned.

That would leave an inner island that needed a bit more room for prep.

I love the look of the curved island, and it seems like it would be more comfortable to eat at (so you can sort of see people next to you), but it does make things tricky for cooking / prep.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Ah - and I just found the thread about where do you store your every day dishes. I would think that most people with sinks / DW on island just store in lower cabinet drawers, which makes perfect sense. You'd still have to walk glasses over (in our case, probably closer to the fridge), but we do that anyway now and it's not a huge deal.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's a current popular fad. As are kitchens that are larger than my first house and in which you need roller skates in order to not drop from the fatigue of so much distance between the zones of use. But, most of those kitchen are for show, not real cooking. They're usually designed by architects or interior designer who don't cook rather than kitchen designers who DO know how to properly sear a steak.

Too much space in a kitchen is actually a worse curse than too little. Everyone understands the compromises that a small kitchen makes, but people look at a 30x20 space and think of how much room there is to DO stuff. Only they don't realize that the space is all in the wrong spots and will never get used. Or that to hold a conversation with any kitchen visitors requires shouting long distance.

Don't be seduced by a form over function fad.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 2:50PM
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I think the evolution of these designs is BECAUSE we are evolving how we use the kitchen. In the old days people had dining rooms, did all their cooking before guests came, or had someone else cooking for them....
Now we are ditching dining rooms, cooking with friends, and hosting parties where everyone ends up in the kitchen anyway. The outer island is the equivalent of the "social bar" to keep the guests out of the work triangle....
In my case the outer island has a big sink for washing dishes, but it can also be another prep area (hoping to keep it separate for meats). My outer island is also at the same level as my kitchen table so the chairs can go back and forth between the island and table. No its not formal, nor is eating in the kitchen, but informality breeds comfort. Our kitchen is the heart of the house. It is how modern families may choose to live henceforth.

And regarding work triangles. If you make the little island functional, you can actually pull off a couple of triangles depending on what task you are doing, cleaning up or cooking.
I've attached my blueprint to show you to what I'm referring.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 4:07PM
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Sophie Wheeler

will2kz, table height, which is what you say your outer island will be, is 30". DW's are 34 inches tall. You could have a single DW mounted there, but it would be have to be mounted too low to account for the drainboard area of the sink. 30" is already ergonomically way too low to mount a sink unless you are 4' tall. It will induce all kinds of back strain.

Your prep island is also MUCH too small. You need a 36" x24" continuous space adjacent to water to work for prep.

I'd suggest moving the range down towards the bottom and creating an L shaped kitchen by attaching a portion of the outer island to the counter at the top. That's your cleanup zone. Then use that opportunity to create a more functional and larger prep island out of the remaining space.

You have enough space for a nicely functioning kitchen. Unfortunately, as pictured, working in the kitchen will be uncomfortable, and even downright dangerous for traffic flow.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 4:41PM
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I think that will2kz means that the kitchen table will be counter height, not that her counters will be table-height! The taller tables are quite easy to find now. I do like the idea of having chairs that can do double duty. I've also seen large square tables that would work well for this - you can do 1 or 2 chairs per side, easily sitting 4-8 people.

24-36" next to the prep sink sounds about right - I am a messy cook and tend to spread out. My current island is 50" x 29" (random) and is a nice size, even if it had a small prep sink in it.

I do like the flow of the kitchen with the open ends on the outer island (as oppposed to having an L-shape, where you would have to walk all the way around the kitchen to get to the other hallway.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Thanks, I did mean counter height.
The prep table is 34 x 34 in size. Here is the magic, bear with me as I try to describe, but it may not be obvious until I can show you the finished picture.
First, you can approach the small prep table from any side you want. The sink is actually a double sink with a small ~9 inch bowl on one side. The larger portion will hold a cutting board, and will hold it flush with the surface of the counter. In fact I'm hoping the cabinet guy who cuts the hole out of the butcher block can do so in a way to reform the waste wood from the hole into this cutting board. So when the board is in place, all you will see is a 9 inch round sink in the corner of the table (or the middle of one edge, still trying to decide). This leaves up to 24 inches of space to one side of the sink as the faucets in middle of island. When the board is out, exposing both sinks, there won't be as much space admittedly for chopping, but again, this is for prep, not dishes cleanup. If you plan to wash dishes, absolutely you need more room on one side or another, or a real two basin sink (which I have negative opinions about anyway).

And regarding flow:
Firstly, second post is me, so as you can see, too late for flow suggestions....
The traffic through the kitchen will only occur along the line with the refrigerators. The only people in the space by the stove and the sinks will be me or my lovely wife. The idea is to keep people out of my way as I'm a full contact cook.
The reason I have 30 inches on either side of the rangetop is all the dishes will be in the drawers below the counter to the left of the range, nearest the table, but still very close to DW. The cutlery will actually be in the drawer on the backside of the DW, facing the table. I'll attach a more inclusive design sketch so you can more fully understand. In it the dining table(s) will be to the right by the bay window. The dotted lines are what was removed in our remodel. The bank of stuff in the corner is a wet bar I'll talk about later, but suffice it to say, guests will not need to come into cooking triangle for a drink.

I don't want to hijack this thread though. The idea is to fully understand how to design around a 2 island concept.
I agree that the size of the smaller island is a sticking point, too big and your kitchen has to be mammoth, too small and what's the point. Trying to maximize this island's function in a small space is critical in my mind and that's what I've tried to do.
The way you use the big island is likely more versatile. Not everyone will put a sink there, some may prefer their cooktop on an island which the plumber will prefer. Of course an island cooktop means an island hood, which means a huge design/and function tradeoff. I myself don't want guests sitting at the space I cook ... even with a fire extinguisher handy.....

And no, I don't have years with this kitchen design to tell you what I think, but I do have cabinets sitting in place and I can walk around them. It flows very nicely. In our old space someone had to literally back out and move to let someone into a spot. Now you can simply circumnavigate....

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:51PM
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I like the flow of your kitchen will2kz (although I'm certainly no designer either)! An L shape would make getting into the kitchen from the dining area completely ridiculous. The prep sink sounds interesting. Sounds like it is a plan that will work well for your family!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:03PM
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The best kitchen layout for a particular space depends on many things: the number of cooks, the way a cook likes to work, other activities that take place in the space, etc., and, most importantly, the shape of the kitchen. In my kitchen, I found that two islands made the best use of the space I had. The prep island has 9 feet of usable space and includes a prep sink, undercounter fridge drawers, a compost/trash drawer,a cabinet for mixer and processor and a wide stack of drawers for utensils, bowls and baking staples. Parallel to this is another island that is 18" longer and holds the cook top. Drawers and pull outs hold such things as spices, serving dishes, pots and pans, untensils, oils and other bottles, cutting boards and a rank of drawers for miscellaneous items. In terms of prepping and cooking, this is extremely functional. One of the main reasons for this design, other than the shape of the room, is that it allow me to prep facing a bank of windows and a glorious view outdoors. It also gives me a huge amount of counter space for myself or multiple cooks. My clean up zone is a 6 foot counter perpendicular to the prep counter and adjacent to the fridge and ovens. Dirty dishes are carried there and are away from the work area, dish storage is in drawers to the left of the sink and glasses are kept above. Unloading the d/w is a breeze. For me, this is the best layout for my space and my needs. In designing your kitchen, you must decide what you need and how it can best be worked into the allotted space. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 1:04AM
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