What I Would Change About Your Kitchen Layout — Heather Hungeling Design


Top Kitchen Layout Changes


Only one time in my professional career have I ever done a cooktop on the island, although 30% of my clients have started the process thinking that’s what they wanted. Unless you are a celebrity chef who plans on filming a cooking show in your home kitchen (which was the case the one time that I specified a cooktop in the island), then you probably won’t like that.

Most people will tell me that they asked the architect to place the cooktop in the island so that they could face the family room while they were cooking, but the reality is that you spend far more time doing prep and standing over your sink than you do standing at your cooktop. When you’re cooking, you stir something for a moment, then turn away and do other tasks while the food is cooking – only intermittently coming back to the cooktop to tend to your meal.

If you can arrange your prep space and your sink (either your main sink or a generous prep sink) in your island instead, you’ll spend far more time interacting with your family while preparing dinner. After mulling that over for a few minutes, people almost always agree. If that doesn’t convince someone then consider these additional reasons:

  • Pop up exhaust systems behind the cooktop have come a long ways, but they are still not as effective as overhead ventilation.

  • Ceiling mounted island hoods feel oppressive (and usually look quite dreadful).

  • Ceiling mounted island hoods often block the view.

  • Ceiling mounted island hoods get even trickier to work with if you have a particularly high ceiling or a low one.



If your architect has only developed a skeletal floor plan for you for the purpose of space planning, then you may not realize that you don’t have enough room for all those bar stools that you wanted until you finally sit down with a kitchen designer.

Those sketched out floor plans never show design details or features that clients will probably want when they are purchasing a high-end kitchen. When I create an island, there is usually a substantial design element at each end. It might be a leg of some sort, or it could be cabinetry oriented perpendicularly with chopping blocks, etc. An overhang that runs the length of the island with no other design feature to visually support the top looks mighty cheap.

So chances are, by the time we add some style and detail to your island, there won’t be room for quite as many stools as shown on your architect’s drawing. The frustration that ensues is why there are usually more revisions to the island than any other element of the kitchen design.

I’ve had clients dead set on trying to get 7-8 stools around an 8’ island (even though there was a breakfast table right next to the island). In those instances, I’ll attempt to elongate the island (if space allows) or try to wrap some of the seating around on a perpendicular side. The latter usually requires that the island be made wider than normal, which is often unsightly.

Unless your space is big enough that I can elongate the footprint of the island, you should reconsider if you really need that many stools. I also think it’s unnatural and uncomfortable to have multiple people all sitting in one long row. It does not contribute to good conversation.

I usually suggest limiting it to 3-4 stools if the seating is all on one side of the island. Bottom line…don’t try to turn your island into a 36” high dining table. You’ve already got a dining table or a breakfast table!


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