Sourdough was just the starter - double kitchen islands are rising in popularity


There's nothing new about the magnetic pull of the kitchen. It seems like no matter what care you took to select a signature, live-edge dining table, or plush living room furniture; people are drawn to the kitchen during every gathering. But it's not just game day, birthday, or entertaining holiday dreams prompting searches for the 'just the right kitchen' space. The quest is also fueled by the daily needs of cooking, home work, and study habits.

Home builders, renovation experts, and interior designers recognize the growing multipurpose role a modern kitchen plays in today's homes. What's the answer to this age-old yet modern dilemma? The National Kitchen & Bath Association's (NKBA) 2022 Design Trends article notes large or double islands are "in demand." It's true. Savvy homeowners are doubling down on islands. A surge of interest around incorporating double islands into kitchen plans is finding a place in both modest and grand homes. 

One size does not fit all

You might get caught up in the myth that you need a lot of space to pull off a double island. Before you discount the option as too costly or space intensive, accounting for the benefits and flexibility of this approach is wise. 

From a practical standpoint, kitchen islands can fill five kitchen functions: storage, prep station, cooking, serving, and washing up. Double islands not only doubles your counter space but also provide tons of hidden storage. It's essential to maintain the right proportion to each other, but there are no hard rules that the islands need to be the same size. One can be narrower than the other. They can even be staggered to offer more seating areas. 

The general rule is that you will need at least 42 to 48 inches (106.68 cm to 121.92 cm) of open space around your island. Sometimes your existing kitchen space is too small, or it seems like you are maxing out the sq. footage of your plans. If that's the case, you might decide that a formal dining room is a thing of the past. Reclaiming traditional spaces and turning them into an open, eat-in vibe that fits your lifestyle could be the right solution for your family and guests.

Age and accessibility friendly

As people build out their dream homes and plan to age in place, the extreme functionality of double islands and the clear space around them may be ideal for future mobility options. One hidden asset of islands is that an additional island can reduce the need for upper storage. Clutter is cut down, and outlets can be strategically placed for easy access. Some designs even leverage pantry-like spaces. As noted by AgingInPlace.org, "In most homes, passageways are only 24 inches, which do not allow access for a walker. Proper access for wheelchairs requires 42 to 48 inches of clearance for all pathways." Double islands support entertaining today and accessibility in the future.

Go with the flow

You might know that feeling. Friends are invited over. Everyone is crowded in the kitchen, prepping their potluck dishes - but you can't move to get your dish in the oven! Trying to serve refreshments is causing a further pileup of people by the refrigerator. For a couple planning a new home build, going to a Parade of Homes event let them envision how that frustration could be relieved.

Patty and her husband Bruce were "wowed" when they entered a home featuring double islands. She said, "I could instantly see how one island would serve a more functional role – great for food prep, with the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator in a streamlined triangle to support the cooking process. The second island could be dedicated to entertaining, visiting, and even being used as a buffet." Now they both agree, "incorporating double islands was one of the best decisions we made in planning our new home."

Invite your friends over

Whether you're sold on the idea of double islands or still tumbling options, having an expert who's built dozens of kitchens will bring you comfort when creating your own. Visiting the website of your local home builders association for a list of builders will kick-start your process. "Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities' website provides consumers with a directory of its members; this online resource is extremely helpful when looking to hire a professional for your home building, remodeling, and financing needs," said HBAFC CEO Heidi Zich.

It's also essential to work with a trusted financial partner. Some financial institutions offer free Home Affordability calculator tools to determine lending ratios and monthly payment estimates. Community First Credit Union is a great resource when you need some sound financial advice. 

Remodeling may be the answer to reimagining the kitchen. If so, you can look at financing options, including a home equity fixed-rate loan with a locked-in rate or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) loan with access to funds for up to ten years. 

Whether you're after symmetry, simplicity, rustic or sleek waterfall edges to center your eating, entertaining, and even living space – the flexibility of double islands might double your enjoyment of your kitchen – the magnetic center of all homes.

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