Little island or work table? Please help me design a compromise!

homebuyer23May 8, 2013

The picture below has been my layout inspiration and I am going to end up with a similar layout. I have room for a 24" X 51" island. I fear a traditional island with base cabinetry in that small size will end up looking like a little box plunked down in the middle of the room.

I love the openness of this work table and I'd love the function of the open lower shelf as I'm going induction & plan on splurging on a couple Le Creuset pieces & I think they'd look great there and be in easy reach.

But, I hate to give up all that other possible storage space.

Its hard to say if I really need the storage in the island, I am gaining tons of storage compared to what I have now, but you can never have enough right? Plus, in a worktable design like the picture, you can't put an electrical outlet there, can you?

I'm using a custom cabinet shop, so they could build any design I come up with.

I'd like something to still give an open feeling, and have open storage for the cast iron, but hopefully still have some handy storage, and the option for electrical run to it.

I sketched this design, not sure I love it. Any ideas?

Traditional Kitchen by Mill Valley Architect Mahoney Architects & Interiors

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We will also have a narrow island in our kitchen due to space restrictions. Given the choice, we would have gone deeper. But, that wasn't to be. So, our island countertop will be 29" total. Since we are going with custom cabinets, I think we are making the island 26" deep all together. We decided that part of what makes a narrow island look plopped is when there is toe kick all around it. So, we are having toe kick on just the side nearest the sink (my working area) - the rest of the island will have sides that go down to meet the floor and have a finish strip of some sort.

The plus to having an open table like that is that you could put it on wheels to make it easily movable. The minus is that you can't have electricity going into it. You *may* be able to have an electrical outlet installed in the floor, but I'm not sure how functional that would be overall since many kitchen gadget cords aren't that long. Do you NEED electricity there? As it turned out, we did because that's where my mixer will, we are going with an enclosed "standard" island.

If you go with the work table, I'd add a shelf in the center and have your Le Creuset on display on the two shelves. I think the one shelf like what you have shown might look a little sparse since you have the sides built to be closed in for storage.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:25AM
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Holly- Kay

I love the work table pictured in your inspiration photo. I have a dear friend who has a lovely white and green country kitchen. She used a chrome work table as an island and uses the bottom shelf for much used items. It adds so much flair to her kitchen and is a wonderful spot for a beverage or salad station when she entertains! Good luck finding the right table or designing a cabinet!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:43AM
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We designed a work table and, if we didn't have a gorgeous 8x10 rug in the kitchen, I would have done the "hollow leg" option so that electrical could be run up from the basement creating the illusion of a freestanding table but with permanent function.

I agree with the second shelf if you have the larger, closed sides.

I like the work table and think that they are very handsome in a smaller space. My work table is 30x50 and the drawers open from either side (so that after washing up, cooking tools, knives, etc. can be easily returned to where they live from the clean up sink). The base is also largely open so that it keeps the room feeling spacious.

I cannot wait for my work table to be delivered (we got a 12-16 week lead time - so either in June or July). I am so ready to be officially *done* with my kitchen - although it performs beautifully even without the center work table.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:13AM
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I also like the work table and the idea for a center shelf. You could also think about having a drop leaf incorporated into the counter top for a little more depth when you need it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:31AM
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I really like the look of a work table, especially compared to a small island.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:44AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

We converted a Craigslist bargain table to a simple island/work table. It's a little larger than the one in your plans--3'x5'. Theoretically it's movable, but the marble top is so heavy, I've never tried. I'll post a link to an album that shows the evolution of dining table to island (in the old kitchen), with storage and seating.

The table is a little wide for my kitchen, leaving 37-39" aisles, but it is so convenient! I use it often for rolling out pie dough, kneading bread, drying noodles, serving beverages during family dinners, etc. I've always had a small table of some kind in that location, but the larger size, with storage, is wonderful.

Here is a link that might be useful: island/work table

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:14PM
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It's funny, a small island evokes, "gee, that's kinda small for an island," but the same size table is "wow, that table is really useful there."

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:20PM
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it's nice when one END is available to rest things on/and retrieve from. You have the 2 cabinet sections blocking both ends. I might make one cabinet of a larger dimension on one side only.Try 18-21 inches wide, full height to the top- the 2 drawers would each be slightly smaller using the remaining inches.Under the drawers the shelves would have access from 3 handy that way...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:02PM
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We just got rid of a work table, it was just horribly impractical. I personally put them in the category of "things that look good but don't work well."

All the things on that lower shelf get dusty, the dog can reach them, and stuff falls on them from the countertop above, getting them dirty. Plus, that one shelf just won't hold all that much stuff compared to a 4 deep drawers that would fit in the same space.

We got rid of ours and put in an island with almost the exact dimensions of yours, and it holds much more stuff. And wonder of wonders, I actually think it makes the kitchen look bigger than the work table did.

Just my .02.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:55PM
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robo (z6a)

I vote table, I also like the look a lot better than island for a narrow solution. I think with the closed storage on both sides the solution you designed, while beautiful, is going to feel very "islandy."

If you really can't give up the closed storage, what if you had open storage on both sides and closed in the middle?

But I love your inspiration pic best and think it would look lovely with le creuset on one or two shelves.

I do have stuff on open shelving near the floor, and it gets FILTHY (darn cat hair), so personally I'd go with a shelf a little bit higher than pictured.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:56PM
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I love the look of a worktable with shelves. In reality, my cats would take over the shelves, stash their mousies there and leave a wake of fur and litter dust.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 3:02PM
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Holly- Kay

I love the look of the work table but I will have a small island. I wanted a mixer base and I wanted more drawer space. I think it will be fine and look nice. From an aesthetics standpoint I would have rather had the work table but as far as function goes the small island will be perfect!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 7:59PM
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I vote table as well! That's what I put in my current kitchen to avoid the "tiny island" and I've loved it! It's also great that I can scoot it out of the way when needed. Love your inspiration pic!!!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Thank you all so so much for your opinions. I do think I need to just study my layout more and be sure I have a place for everything, if there's stuff that still needs a home, then I think it may be foolish to go work table. But I suspect I have room for most stuff, I feel like I really want to do the work table, but with a little bit of storage.

I just sketched out herbflavors idea (thank you!) and 2 other ideas I had, if anyones looking please weigh in on if you like any of these or have other ideas.

Can I do that hollow leg thing? Never heard of that but sounds perfect, Im afraid Id regret not having an outlet there.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 12:17AM
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I am so glad to see people embracing the small island. 8years ago when I did my kitchen a lot of people told me here not to do one if not big. I did the small one anyway with three drawers and I love it and have never regretted it . I have all my baking stuff in there and its very handy.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 2:18AM
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Oh and mine is movable but the granite on top is heavy but its nice to be able to move it if we should want to for any reason.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 2:20AM
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I didn't have space for an island. I snagged a Boos cart on Craig's list. It is great. I can move it close to my work area and have a place to put it at the end if the cabinet run encroaching the sun room.
It is great not to have to compete with overhead cabinets for some activities.

I like your first choice best, so you have closed storage option.

This post was edited by a2gemini on Fri, May 10, 13 at 17:29

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 5:22AM
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I was unable to use a normal width island when I had to resurface the stone backdrop for my freestanding range, losing significant width in that area of the kitchen.

I have an antique zinc topped pastry table (indestructible), on wheels. I love it. I have a second island and lots of counterspace and storage, but I love the looks and function of my worktable.

During construction:

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:46AM
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I vote for Option 1. :-)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Oh, and we have an outlet in the floor, which was a holdover from the original kitchen (we did a refresh, not a gut reno.) It's a GFCI and I put a marine outlet on it (has a rubber gasket) so it's safe for when we mop the floor. We don't really use it much, but it's there if we do.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 10:50AM
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Youngdeb, re your outlet in the floor. Is it level with the surface of the floor? What if you had an unfortunate spill in that area, something wetter than a damp mop?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 11:08AM
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There is a rubber gasket at the floor, the outlet cover is a bit raised so the plugs are about .25 inches above the floor level, and there is a cover for the actual plugs that also has a rubber gasket. Plus the GFCI will trip if it gets wet.

This is the one we have:

Here is a link that might be useful: Marine Outlet Cover

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 12:20PM
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