So, we decided to do away with a dining table entirely and instead make a standing-height kitchen island and maximize our storage inside it.
A kitchen island can be a great way to organize pots, pans, utensils, flatware, and small kitchen appliances AND provide you with a nice countertop, eating area, and workspace.
In this Instructable, I'll show you what went into designing a kitchen island to make it into the centerpiece of our home. In fact, if you follow any of my Instructables, you've probably already seen my kitchen island, as it doubles as my photography and video studio.
Step 1: General Design
What do you want this furniture to do? What specific items to you want to store? How do you want to access them? Anything special or unusual you want to include?
We decided that we wanted a large counter-top work area which could be used for cooking, meals, and entertaining. The island specifically would have an organized spice drawer, a bread drawer (no room for a breadbox on our counter) and a LARGE utensil drawer. I've lived in too many places where flat or narrow drawers jam because a potato masher doesn't quite fit right. We wanted space for lots of pots, pans, and baking sheets, silverware, utensils, and storage containers.
We needed space for a trash can and recycling bin.
We also wanted to seat two people, with flexibility for many more.
We wanted storage space for books and videos. (The kitchen and living room are one space open to each other. The island also acts as a divider.)
We wanted to be able to use electric kitchen appliances on that counter.
We also wanted something that would match our existing kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Once we decided what we wanted, we looked through books and magazines to get style ideas. We also started noticing the details of other people's kitchen islands - how tall, how wide, what materials, how big was the overhang.
From there, we made a collage from magazine clippings of the features and styles we would like for the island, and I made sketches showing what I would want included.
One of the key components of the kitchen island would be the butcher-block top. I've always liked the look and feel of wood counter-tops. Although granite has been popular for a while, it has always felt too cold and hard for a kitchen. Wood naturally seems to have a warmth and glow to it. My father had a very large, very beat up, butcher block top in the corner of his shop. He gave it to us, and we designed the entire kitchen island to make the best use of the size of the top without cutting it.
I also took photos of our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and some other woodwork. We provided the collage, sketch, butcher block top dimensions, and photos to our friend-of-the-family cabinet-maker, and allowed him to design the exact dimensions of the kitchen island.
He returned to us two drawings and estimates, one for a simpler style, and one for a more ornate one. We chose the simpler style, which we liked, and it would be more affordable.
I am not much of a wood-worker, and on a large and complicated piece of furniture like this, it made sense to leave much of it to a professional. That said, I installed all the brass knobs, painted the cabinet, papered the shelves, installed the electrical, and oiled the wood butcher block.