Form and Function

Kitchen designer Beverley Binns shares how the kitchen island is now working harder than ever.

The island has been a ubiquitous part of every kitchen design for decades. “It’s always one of the top three requests in a new kitchen,” says Beverley Binns of Binns kitchen & bath design. “We’ve been working on the island for a very long time,” she says, remarking how cooktops gave way to large industrial ovens for a time. We are moving back toward a sleeker aesthetic. The hub of the kitchen, the island is ground zero for prep work, socializing, serving and eat-ing. Now, it’s evolving to work even harder with distinct zones and additional functions, often hidden from view.

Refined Good Looks

“With kitchens becoming more streamlined and less bulky, we want them to be part of our living spaces, but not utilitarian — even more so than ever before,” says Binns. In this beautiful kitchen, the island is elegant and subdued. Its functions (a flat induction cooktop and down-draft ventilation) are streamlined and hidden from view, save for a single bowl prep sink. Here, the kitchen is essentially in the wall and the island becomes part of the living space. “This is a great example. The island is becoming part of the furniture of the home — a secondary entertaining area,” says Binns. With integrated lighting and dark, handle-free cabinets, the island is adding to the ambience of the living area as much as the kitchen itself.

A Natural Hub

This island gives new meaning to a kitchen herb garden. “It’s really cool and interesting — this urban influence in kitchens that we see coming out of Europe,” says Binns, referencing the lack of personal outdoor space in dense cities. “We can bring natural spaces in-doors. It becomes a visual cue that this is the centre, a home space, an entertaining space. It’s much more than cabinetry plunked into the middle of the room,” she adds. More people are rediscovering the joys of cooking at home, so having our islands ready and accommodating is a natural evolution.

Seamless Integration

Binns says counter seating at the island, once de rigeur, is going by the wayside. The island’s form and function are evolving to a more refined, but also work-intensive location. Instead, the island is integrating cooktops and dishwashers and dedicated work zones. “What we want is multifunctional, focused areas with a sink on one side, a working area in the middle accessed easily from one side, another plating zone and a secondary workstation,” she says. In this elegant design, the island has display shelving and ample storage on the living room facing side, its colour and shape integrating seamlessly with the room’s design.

Restaurant Influence

“People are recognizing that one large sink, instead of two smaller ones, is very functional. The sink is now a workstation with covers and grates available,” says Binns. The Galley kitchen workstation takes it a step further with multiple configurations of prep bins, cutting boards, grates and bar areas, reminiscent of a restaurant kitchen. “We are working at our sinks doing prep, cleanup, plating. It’s more than just a place to wash vegetables,” she says. Customizing this powerhouse workstation is highly appealing. Long counter-tops aren’t necessarily needed if the working counter space is well- situated between the cooktop and the sink. Think quality over quantity.

Photography courtesy of SIEMATIC and The Galley