When it comes to kitchen islands, is bigger always better?

When it comes to kitchen islands, is bigger always better?

August 11, 2016


 Multi-level kitchen island by Thomas Buckborough & Associates. Image via Houzz.

When it comes to kitchen islands, is bigger always better?

Q: We are planning a home renovation with a kitchen expansion. One of the elements we’re most excited about is a large kitchen island. Since we have more space with the addition, we want to go really big! However, our kitchen designer has been cautioning us against an island that’s too large. It’s an area we use regularly for cooking and eating as well as for entertainment. We use it for serving snacks when friends come over and our kids use it when they make artwork and do homework. In our opinion, an island can’t be too big! Is there a reason we should reconsider?

A: Well, traffic flow could be one reason. Is your island blocking the valuable space your family will need to move around in the kitchen? If that’s not the case, then your designer might be concerned about countertop seams. If you’re considering natural stone for the countertop material, this is probably what she’s worried about.

Seams aren’t a deal-breaker for some, as often they’re not really that obvious. But they can be seen, and felt. They can make cleanup trickier and even if you barely notice them at first, seams may begin to annoy you after awhile.

Large granite slabs more than 10-feet long and 6-feet wide are so rare that you will have a seam. Sometimes a seam is unavoidable because your countertop is in a high rise, up a tricky stairwell, or your home has a narrow entryway or hallway blocking point A from point B, a seam may be necessary. But if you can avoid it, you may want to consider other options.

The templating and fabrication processes are much easier to do without seams, and installation can go up to 80-percent faster without a seam involved.

You can find larger marble and granite slabs sometimes, but be aware that you will have a limited selection. Larger slabs are pretty rare and you’ll pay more for them too. Even if you find a slab in the size you are looking for, remember that transportation has to be figured in too. Can it logistically and safely be transported? Will it make it through the door?

The earlier in your planning process that you start to think about this, the better. You may be able to work with the size island you desire, with a few modifications. Consider reconfiguring the island to feature multiple levels. You can use the same color marble or granite – or even different shades to add interest—for different areas. You can create a taller area with bar stools for eating or to serve as a buffet when entertaining, a standard-height level for food prep, and even an area of an altogether different size for storage or décor. You could also use a marble top for a “baking area” or a wooden butcher block as a “chopping area” to reduce the amount of marble or granite needed.

If you don’t have your heart set on natural stone, then there are a couple of alternative choices that could help you avoid the seam situation. First, a countertop surface such as quartz makes seams easier to conceal. Check out our favorite brand, ColorQuartz. It’s an incredibly durable material that stands up to stains, cracks, chips, temperature changes, and liquids. You’ll find there are many other advantages to quartz as well.

Neolith is another material that we offer that could be worth investigating. An ultra-compact surfacing material, Neolith is available in very large slabs, up to 144-in. long. Although it’s a very thin surface, it can be used for a very long, seamless run of countertops. You can even create a thicker look with various fabrication techniques. What’s more, Neolith is a virtually indestructible material. Read more about Neolith here.

Talk with your designer and find out more about why she’s recommending a smaller size. You may thank her in the end. Feel free to stop by one of two New England area Marble & Granite showrooms if you’d like to check out ColorQuartz and Neolith  options in person. Our stone experts can also advise you on marble or granite for a large island if that’s the direction you decide to go. Good luck with your kitchen and send us a photo of the completed project!


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