Every so often in a movie or series, you come across a perfectly placed island for cooking that looks absolutely stunning. And you wonder, what if your kitchen had an island too?
"The kitchen island is, in a way, the symbol for the fireplace around which the whole family and friends gather to cook, eat and talk together," says interior designer Ines Wrusch. Yet, you have to tread carefully on these waters because your island can become deserted if you do not plan ahead.
Managing director of the Modern Kitchen working group Volker Irle says that if you wish to have that excellent island, it is important to plan in advance. “Of course, a lot is possible in a new build,” says Irle. Nowadays, it's commonplace for the kitchen to form the heart of the home.
In an existing building, however, things are more difficult as they often only have small working kitchens. When it comes to a renovation, the connecting walls to the living room would most likely have to be torn out to create an open atmosphere and more space. "But you probably won't be able to create a combined kitchen/living room with an island," says Volker Irle.
This is because an open kitchen needs space: 15 square meters (161.4 square feet) is the minimum, but more is better. If you do have enough space, you should consider how the island will be used. Because: "You need to decide if you want a kitchen island or a cooking island with a stove – this makes a huge difference in the planning," says Irle.
If you want to place a cooktop or hob on the kitchen island, you should bear in mind that the necessary electrical wiring or gas line will need to be installed.
If a sink is also to be installed, water pipes will need to be laid. Wastewater must not be forgotten about either. In a new building, this is not such a big deal if you plan in good time while if it's a conversion, things are likely to be more complex.
A kitchen island that is not equipped with a hob is a lot less complicated to plan. Instead, you can use it to chop and prepare food, and sit around it, too. It's a good idea to plan in power points as electricity is needed for mixers, blenders or other appliances, especially when preparing meals.
If you can't decide whether you want to chop food or cook it, you can also use the kitchen island for both. "It's important that there is enough space to the right and left of the hob to work and to place the prepared food," advises Ines Wrusch.
If the hob is 80 to 90 centimeters (31.5 inches to 35.4 inches) wide, for example, another 60 centimeters of worktop should be planned on either side. You should also plan at least 30 centimeters of storage space for safety reasons, for example if you need to quickly pull a pot away from from the hob," says Wrusch.
"This gives you 2 meters of width for the island – and for that you need a large room." It's also important to be able to move easily between the wall unit and the island. "You should plan in at least 85 centimeters, otherwise it will be too narrow," says Wrusch.
If your kitchen merges into the living area, special care should be taken to ensure that the smell and moisture from cooking do not waft through the flat for hours after eating. There are modern, efficient systems for both extractor hoods and ventilators that extract fumes and moisture downwards. Conventional extractor hoods have also improved and do a good job.
It's practical to create additional storage space when putting in an island, and base units can be installed on both sides. Pots, pans and other cooking utensils can then be stored there within easy reach.
"Tidiness is a very important factor in open-plan kitchens," says Irle, which can be a challenge. But there is a simple solution, he says: pocket door systems, also known as slide-in doors.
"It involves large doors that slide into and disappear into a narrow body in the cupboard when opened. When the cabinet is closed, the doors form a high-quality surface that blocks the view of what's inside. Then everything is clean and tidy," says Irle.