Island Fever

The well-designed kitchen island might well be likened to its tropical namesake, sans sand of course—a sleek span of space or one with lots of hiding spaces, either a peaceful oasis or one that’s hardworking and functional. While individual kitchen islands come in myriad styles, the best ones are always magnetic when it comes to attracting friends and family. Here, we ask some of Marin’s design experts to share their ideas for the ideal kitchen island.

“If the kitchen is the core of the home, the island is the heart of the kitchen. The island establishes the chef’s domain while engaging guests in the art of cooking and the pleasures of eating. It’s the gathering place for storytelling, homework, holiday buffets and brewing practical magic.”

Jared Polsky, principal,
Polsky Perlstein Architects (Larkspur)

“I would want to be stranded on Poggenpohl’s “Plusmodo” island. A cantilevered countertop on an island can provide a seating area while also creating a visual statement. Having a cooktop in the island can bring you closer to your guests if you are entertaining and preparing a meal. Exposed pullouts under the countertop help you access commonly used items and having them pull out creates a better ergonomic environment. If properly planned the island can be the hub of the kitchen.”

Joseph Saitta, showroom manager/designer
Poggenpohl U.S., Inc. (San Francisco)

“My ideal island is one that is versatile and can be used for different functions. That’s why I think it’s important to have a large work surface without too many built-ins like appliances or sinks. That way, it can be used for the cook’s prep work, a child’s homework spot or craft station or it can be converted to a buffet for dinner parties.”

Brian Allen, designer
SieMatic (San Francisco)

“The ideal island is big enough for two people to work on. Islands are focal points because they stand alone so, ideally, I like to give them a sculptural quality. It’s great to have a sink in the island with a knife drawer, pull-out recycle/compost bin, pull-up food processor cabinet, cutting board and lots of drawers for plastic wrap, zip-lock bags and Tupperware. Being able to seat your friends and family at the island creates a center of activity that is inclusive and graciously inviting.  Everyone feels welcome.”

Janine Peck, certified kitchen/bath designer and owner of Design Orendain (Mill Valley)

“Kitchen islands are a popular feature in today’s kitchen, providing not only a communal gathering area and additional working space, but also the possibility of a second sink, wine storage or cooking capacity.” 

Greg Nelson, owner, Lamperti Contracting & Design (San Rafael)

“An ideal island is like a campfire that invites everyone to gather around, either side by side or facing each other so conversation happens easily. Or there’s something to look at so one doesn’t have to talk. I’d put almost everything there and make it big; let there merely be comfortable walking room around it. There needs to be a prep sink and plenty of counter space for working, a cooktop and comfortable seating. There would be about four countertop heights and materials based on function and aesthetics.”

Rosemarie Halajian, co-owner, Kitchens and More (San Rafael)