Monday, April 19, 2010

Small kitchen islands

Atlanta is a great place in the spring (unless you are a seasonal allergy sufferer!), as every week seems to have a different home tour. One of the best home tours of the spring, the Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Show House, is in full swing now, and it promises to be spectacular.


I have not seen many sneak previews of the spaces in the Symphony Show House, with the exception of the kitchen. The Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles blog has featured guest posts on the design of the Show House kitchen by one of Atlanta’s preeminent kitchen designers, Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria. Matthew and his team have been working for months on the transformation of the kitchen in the Show House (they gutted the old kitchen), and the results (seen above) are stunning. I took special note of the two small islands; according to one of Matthew’s guest posts, the design came out of a desire to improve traffic issues that one long island often causes in a kitchen where there are multiple people cooking. Also, it was noted the two islands creates more usable countertop space.

salmon house_01_06[1]

It was the second time this week I had seen a kitchen with two small islands. At the end of last week, the authors of the Whitehaven blog posted pictures of the kitchen from the house that I featured on my blog on Tuesday (click here for more images). Note that there are two islands, one of which has storage, and one of which is open. I think this is a great combination – the best of both worlds. Architecture by Brad Heppner (who is clearly very talented at kitchen design).

salmon house_01_01[1]

Here is a wider view of the kitchen – you can see the storage island better in this picture (and those fantastic lights are amazing in the space). Brad designed one island to match the cabinetry, and one island to look like furniture. The overall effect is beautiful. Image via Whitehaven.

A charming 1925 Tudor style house that is on the market in Atlanta has a stunning kitchen addition that is filled with light. Although it is hard to see in this picture, there are two islands, each shaped differently. A big island would have really changed the look of this kitchen, but the two small islands give the kitchen additional work surfaces without overwhelming the space. Does anyone know which architect helmed the renovation of this house (I have a guess…)? Image via real estate listing.


This beautiful kitchen is in a Mediterranean style house (circa 1929) that was renovated under the guidance of project architect Rodolfo Castro (who was with Summerour and Associates at the time, but has since started his own firm, Castro Design Studio). Ed Belding also worked on the kitchen design; Ed is a talented interior designer who worked with Rodolfo at Summerour, and has since started his own firm, the Belding Group. The kitchen has two islands of different sizes and shapes, with open shelving underneath. Photo credit: Blayne Beacham; to see more of this house, please visit Limestone and Boxwoods.


Rodolfo told me that the inspiration for the kitchen islands came from Castle Drogo, located near Drewsteignton, Devon, England. Castle Drogo was built in the 1910s - 1920s and was designed by Edwin Lutyens (the island in the picture above was designed by Lutyens for the home). An interesting side note, Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in England, and more than likely the last private house to be built entirely of granite (source: Wikipedia).

What do you think of two small islands in a kitchen? I like the look, provided there is enough storage space in other places in the kitchen. I can definitely see the advantages from a traffic flow perspective, and I love the idea of having multiple independent work surfaces (during busy times in my kitchen, we have small battles for countertop space). The one concern I have is losing the storage that is in a large island. I am looking forward to seeing the kitchen in the Symphony Show House in person, and I will be paying special attention to those kitchen islands!

The Atlanta Symphony Decorators’ Show House opens this weekend (April 17, 2010), and runs through May 9, 2010. For more information, please visit the show house website: http://www.decoratorsshowhouse.org/

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.

To follow my blog on facebook, click here.

To visit my online store, click here.


  1. Oh fantastic..I love the idea of one of these..makes perfect sense! Great images!x

  2. I'm sure it helps with traffic flow! I love my oversized island but it takes up a lot of room when the kitchen is full of company. Love the first kitchen. Hope you are having a great weekend. :)

  3. Love the Lutyens inspiration for Rodolfo Castro's work!

  4. Brad's kitchen is to die for! From the beams, the color of the cabinets, the small lamp on the counter, and the BRILLIANT two islands! UGH! I used to love my own kitchen....! :)

  5. Holly,
    LOVE the introduction of a pair of small islands!
    Oh, to have a kitchen large enough to do this would be so fantastic.

    I tried so hard to make a round antique table with a bottom shelf work when we renovated our kitchen. But, it was not possible...needed the storage etc...and have since sold it.

    Always a series of trade-offs...but thanks to all these lovely images, I can still dream!

  6. Ok, the first time I went into the Peachtree battle kitchen I didn't get it really. I had never seen two islands before, and was confused. I have been back to the house many times, and ever time I go I like the islands more and more. It is not one of my favorite kitchens. Especially since my boyfriend and I both love to cook. It would be great to have our own work stations. It's also great to have a walkway directly from the sink to the stove. I also like the open air storage underneath the islands. That way you always know where your stuff is, but of course then you have to have pretty and organized stuff. Thanks for the post. I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of this. Way to go Rodolfo for leading the pack. BTW, G and I think it might have been Summerour who did the renovation on the Tudor, but that's def. just a guess. :)

  7. I think the Tudor house/kitchen renovation is either Brad Heppner or Keith Summerour.

  8. What a terrificly splendid kitchen! I love the oval island.

  9. I'm voting for 2 islands if you have the space. So many more ways for folks to circulate and it more than double the thing you can do with design. If at least one of them is more like a table, so you can move it, you get that much more flexibility.

    Folks should look at Edwin Lutyens' designs at least once every day of their life. The Lutyens round table gives you a place to put your foot up, very comfortable.

  10. The Tudor house for sale was renovated by Summerour and Associates. Brad Heppner was the project architect forthis project. Kay Douglass of South of Market owned the house at the time of the renovation. Brad and Kay did an amazing job, the house is beautiful.

  11. In my very tiny ordinary suburban kitchen -- the island is a mere 24 inches square! Can't tell you how many times I measured that space -- including times when the fridge, stove and dishwasher doors were open! LOL! I just adore that round kitchen island -- very, very charming -- I wonder if a round island could be designed so that kitchen stools could be pushed under it too? Thanks for sharing such gorgeous spaces!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  12. BEAUTIFUL kitchens! love the idea of 2 islands if you have the space . . .

  13. I love the concept of two separate islands (providing there is enough space). In the next-to-last photo, I love the double islands, but think that the white lacquered cabinets are too stark against the wood islands--also the question of white with a 1920's house with an open kitchen doesn't sit right with me--perhaps ivory or milk chocolate? Great post!!

  14. There is so much design talent in Atlanta. I love the notion of two islands, especially if one is round and the other square or rectangular. Having said that, I do love an "overhang" on an island where people can sit and linger or kids can do homework, while you are in the kitchen cooking. The second image allows for that by curving the bottom shelf of the island, allowing for a stool and someone to sit comfortably.

  15. Wow, all those double islands and lights, love.

  16. What a beautiful & stylish kitchen! I've been on the lookout for images of kitchens with ceilings that aren't sky high, like my own. I'm searching for some pendant lights, and the ones in this kitchen are wonderful. As for the two islands, I do think they certainly are eye-catching and stylish, but I wonder about their practicality. To me, there's nothing like a large center island for entertaining, and more importantly, for the kids to sit around, whether for eating, art projects, etc.

  17. These double islands are fantastic! I can just see them opening up a kitchen so much more, they would give the room a much better flow. However, I am partial to setting up a buffet during parties on the island and there is nothing like a large island for gatherings. But, I would gladly take form over function!

  18. Im with Terry -- love the two island idea if there is space.

    Take tons of photos-- will look forward to your perspective.

    Always inspiring :)


  19. Love the dual islands. It makes more than style its practicality. Those Titanic sized smothers of space seem have overtaken most kitchen landscapes & frankly annoy me to pieces. Separate smaller psaces give room to manuever, lighten the space...oh hell that just make sense!!!

  20. Aren't these clever designers? I love seeing what's happening around the continent - looking forward to seeing your pictures!

    Those are such large kitchens that it's easy to fit two islands in, and makes sense -- takes away some of the visual weight and feels fresh. Functionally, I like to see more storage space underneath, like the second photo with the drawers on one island and the table on the other, but can't fault the aesthetics.

    Unfortunately, over here in earthquake country, the kitchen with the teapots and cake-plates just makes me gulp. There's your regional differences right there!

  21. I think the images are beautiful and if the kitchen is large enough...like the idea of two islands. However, when I entertain I feel like lots of people end up congregating at the island seating and I will usually work opposite to where everyone is sitting....so if there were two islands....not sure I'd like that aspect as much. That said, I've got an island and a peninsula in my kitchen...both with seating and I haven't had issues...so perhaps I am overthinking this!

  22. That is twice this week that you showed kitchen ideas that I duly noted, love the double islands and the design of this kitchen is spectacular. Love the cabinet door details. great post and wish I lived closer to Atlanta. One of my favorite cities.

  23. Love this article. One of the best piece ever on kitchens and alternative idea's.
    I loved each and every kitchen here...I also LOVE Atlanta.

  24. Beautiful kitchens!! I love the idea of two islands and have always tried to incorporate it into any kitchen renovations I'm working on. But I quickly find that you need a LOT of space in order to fit 2 islands because you need 3'-4' around all sides (of both!).
    I've always loved the dual islands in this Mcalpine kitchen (one of my favorite houses!):

  25. Two islands is an interesting design concept and seems highly functional. The round island is something I think might work in a kitchen (but not sure it should be paired with another island). Hmmm. I am a bit on the fence about the two island idea. Great post!

  26. Oh my, that first image is amazing, I would still have room only for one, however it is divine!!

    I have a new post and interview up I think you will enjoy!

    Art by Karena

  27. You are always right on the cutting edge. This is a great evolution for the kitchen island. I have always thought that bigger was better until my current island when I started to notice some of the disadvantages of the large island. Like the fact that I cant even reach the middle. I like the idea of two islands.

  28. Beautiful kitchens and great post. I tend to be a VERY practical person (which is good and bad) and in all honesty, two islands just seems a little much, unless there are two people in the house who cook daily. I have one island in my kithcen that measures 46" deep by 80" long. There are 44" to the sink wall, 37" to the Wolf range, and 57" to the Subzero.....

    I love my island!!! It is so functional and where I do 90% of my prep, while my three boys (ages 5,4,2) eat, color, etc while I prep and serve......I love having all of them sitting there - making breakfast in the morning is a joy!!!!.....With two small islands, could a whole group of people be together while I cook????

    The island has 6 drawers (two stacks of 3) with a pull out trash in the center. This side is just opposite the sink, so I can scrape plates into the trash, turn to face the sink and then straight into the dishwasher (one on each side of the sink) - all done with a simple turn, no steps necessary (may be one) with the 44" of space between sink and island.....

    My husband and I did exhaustive research when planning the kitchen of our custom home (along with our architect)......But, the bottome line is, no one knows better than you how you will use your kitchen.....We read an interesting article in the NY Times that interviewd Christopher Peacock.....He gave some very practical tips, one of which was that it is hard to break your habits in the kitchen....Two islands - would someone even have time to use both???.....

    One of the best things we did in the island was measuring what we knew would be stored in the island and planning each drawer appropriately.....The best is the "tupperware" drawer: interior space is 8.5" deep and 20" long - holds all of my tupperware perfectly (with room to grow).....

    I was the one who commented on your sink post about the 8" v. 10" deep sink (10" was too deep for me - I am 5'5")....Love my 8" in my new kitchen....

    I also could not live without my two dishwashers!!!....They have changed my life - I entertain family and friends a lot, and it just makes life so much easier.....Also love my recycling center (pull out with two trash cans - one for plastic, one for glass/metal).....Have a second recycling for paper and cardboard in my laundry room.....

    I just LOVE your blog.....I live for Sundays after I put my boys to bed to cozy up and read your latest post!

    Nashville, TN

  29. I really love that first image. Totally works. We went back and forth on this idea for our kitchen last fall and after drawing out both variations a few different ways, we settled on one oversized island as we didn't think we would use both islands and we wanted the space. We also have a huge family and entertain quite a bit and I really wanted a sink in my island so I could do kitchen work and prep work without my back to the island/kids/guests. But that may have been important to me just because I talk so much ;)

    I would love to see this with a sink in one of the islands. Interesting...

  30. I love how you compiled this to make your point. I haven't really noticed kitchens with 2 islands until you put this together (of course you are so brilliant) Thanks for you comment on my post today, reading all of them made me feel so much better!!

  31. I have never seen two islands before. I love the concept! We eventually will be redoing our kitchen (put off for a few years by the darn recession) and I want to try and incorporate this! I love that the ones you have shown don't match! Very stylish indeed.

    Thank you for opening my eyes to something new!

  32. I didn't even notice the theme going on here...duh! They are completely Gorgeous! I would take any of these. I have seen the two island thing on the food network several times, and really, unless you are the likes of Ina Garten, what do you need two islands for? I would still take them though, and then pretend that I am a fabulous enough chef to need them!

  33. Thank you for the great comments, everyone! I have enjoyed reading them.

    I remember reading an article about Christopher Peacock, and his observations about how people use their kitchens. I need to dig that one up and read it again. I agree that it is hard to break kitchen habits, which is why when we move, I am going to ask our kitchen designer to help us unpack into the kitchen. I think it will be important to come up with new processes for using the new kitchen, which will have specific work zones.

    In my new kitchen, I am going to have one big island, but that will be a change for me as I have a small island with a cooktop on it in my current house.

  34. Beautiful! And I so adore a gorgeous white kitchen.

  35. I'm a big fan of islands that look like furniture -- and I love the idea of two smaller, leggy islands (though I'd try and at least have some small drawers there for cutlery, etc.).

  36. I love the double island idea. I think the first one is my favorite but, the marbled rounds come in a close second! Gorgeous pictures!
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  37. i have been to castle drogo and never "saw" the island until you pointed it out to me!

    what an amazing concept, love this, esp. the 1925 kitchen
    thank you

  38. I DO like this idea...and must say I have never seen that before. I agree that enough storage would have to be a giant consideration!
    I would have loved to have taken in the home tour with you!

  39. Oh...I love your Blog!!
    Perfect timing as I am in the process of designing my new kitchen and right now trying to figure out the island. Thanks Kat

  40. I immediately saved these photos - I love the top kitchen the best, beautiful and way functional!

  41. Stunning design and architecture. I quite like the dual,smaller kitchen islands. Refreshing change and often you see islands the size of Idaho that look like a old Cadillac in the middle of the room. Thank you for posting, incredible to see.

  42. Stunning kitchens! I just wish my kitchen were big enough to have an island!! LOL

  43. Bravo, you wrote about a pet peeve--"hunking" big islands that constantly have to be traversed. What a great solution--two smaller ones! My only preference would be to make them matching...just my own idiosyncrasy. By the way, you might enjoy my post today on lessons learned from building two homes in the last 20-some years. http://graciousinteriors.blogspot.com

  44. I love that first kitchen image!! How gorgeous is that finish on the islands with the dark wood tops, and I love the touch of polished nickel in the lights. You always seem to find the most beautiful homes!
    I think two islands work great if you have the space or I also like one small island in the middle to work on and then a bigger island with a bar to serve on.

  45. I think two islands are perfect for some kitchens, instead of using a "continent," as long as someone is not trying to squeeze two in, leaving enough walking distance around/between them.

    Thank you for stopping by AttciMag today, and for your comment on my Front Entrance Doors post. I agree that overhangs are nice, and wouldn't enjoy not having one. The first photo is my favorite also. I can't wait to watch the progress on your new home - when will you begin construction?


  46. Oh to have a kitchen that size!!! i would make tons and tons of things!!!

  47. OMG the first kitchen you posted is the prettiest I have EVER seen! I love how the marble (or whatever it is) is cut under the cooker vent. I have never seen that before, and it is truly stunning!

  48. Wow, this post is full of gorgeous images!! I particularly love the cabinets in the very first photo, so stunning! Your blog is amazing, thanks for such a great post :)


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails