Launch Slideshow

Design Details: Kitchen Islands

Design Details: Kitchen Islands

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    Asa Gilmore

    For a formerly cramped kitchen, this 17-foot island unifies and streamlines the space while graciously delineating areas for cooking and eating. Project: Hobson Remodel, Reno, Nev.; Builder: MB Construction, Reno; Architect: Hawkins and Associates, Reno.

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    Christopher Wesnofske

    Acting as an intermediary between a Manhattan apartment and its 12-foot-by-8-foot kitchen, this island offers both utility and visual interest with a design that floats on a thin steel support. Project: Custom Kitchen, New York; Architect: Belmont Freeman Architects, New York.

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    Alan Karchmer/Sandra Benedum

    For a couple who craved an open plan for entertaining but weren’t keen on guests seeing the back end of dinner prep, this ingenious island’s surround conceals kitchen clutter from the adjoining living area while allowing the cook to stay in the conversation. Project: Prairie Dog Kitchen, Washington, D.C.; Builder: Steinbraker & Sons, Washington; Architect: Treacy Eagleburger Architects, Washington.

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    Andrew Pogue Photography

    Clad in walnut cabinetry, contrasted by a limestone countertop, this island offers enough room for both cooking and casual dining. Variances in the wood are echoed in the pixilated glass tile backsplash, offering a cohesive design of equal parts rustic and modern. Project: Brykerwood Kitchen, Austin, Texas; Builder/Architect: CG&S Design-Build, Austin.

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    Michael Biondo

    To open up a formerly closed-off kitchen, the architect employed this ultra-chic stainless steel island to connect the acid-washed steel upper cabinets with the white units below, all while maintaining the home’s airy atmosphere, earning the project a 2012 Residential Architect Design Award. Project: Neutra Glen Residence, Stamford, Conn.; Architect: Joeb Moore + Partners, Greenwich, Conn.

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    Ed Massery

    For their own compact kitchen, the owners of studio d’ARC architects opted for a wheeled island that stands at the ready when more prep space is needed, but doesn’t constrict the space’s flow when guests arrive. Project: Custom Kitchen, Pittsburgh; Architects: studio d’ARC, Pittsburgh.

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    Stu Estler Photography

    For clients who like to entertain large parties, a pair of double islands solves the need for plenty of space without looking overblown. Alternating light and dark materials for cabinetry and countertops creates a smooth design without becoming monotonous. Project: Rosedale Kitchen, Bethesda, Md.; Builder: Georgetown Development Corp., Monrovia, Md.; Architect: Studio Z Design, Bethesda.

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    Olga Soboleva/Vanguard Properties

    For a contemporary kitchen, this sleek island offers a clean line of white quartz to contrast with the kitchen’s dark wood, aluminum cabinets, and stainless steel backsplash. Project: NOVE Kitchen, San Francisco; Builder: Linea Built, San Francisco; Architect: Handel Architects, San Francisco.

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    Art Gray

    This kitchen, with its parallel islands, won Kitchen of the Year for how it pours its heart out—to the outdoors, that is. Situated along a wall of sliding glass, the sturdy outer island offers a gathering spot near the pool for guests, and an accessible snacking spot for the family’s four kids. Project: Appleton Living, Venice, Calif.; Builder: Core Construction and Development, Los Angeles; Architect: MINARC, Santa Monica, Calif.

It’s difficult to find a harder working kitchen element than an island. It provides storage, prep space, and often sinks and stoves as well. It’s a homework hub, email hotspot, and extension of the home office. It anchors dinner parties as well as after-school snacks. And, as the islands in our slideshow illustrate, it also can be a show-stopping design element or seamlessly integrated, a veritable piece of installation art or a prep space on wheels to be summoned as needed. Whatever your buyers’ needs, there’s an island to fit them. To help get the creative juices flowing, we’ve gathered some of our favorites that meet the demands of a variety of spaces and circumstances. The possibilities are endless.

Senior editors Amy Albert and Claire Easley contributed reporting to this article.