The desert cities of the Coachella Valley are an oasis of high-end luxury living. Among the choices are nine major cities, including the sought-after destinations of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, and Indian Wells, as well as countless smaller, close-knit neighborhoods and nearly 30 country clubs.
One of the biggest advantages to calling the Palm Desert region home is the area's near-infinite amount of resort lifestyle choices. From turn-key, move-in-ready residences to renovation and new construction opportunities, finding a home fit for your specific needs is easy. That proves especially true if you want to create a dream kitchen in the heart of your dream home—a place to cook, dine, and entertain.
An island of possibility
Certainly, the abundance of high-end finishes to fit every taste and style for your floor, cabinets, countertops, and backsplash complicates your final aesthetic choices. Choosing between top-of-the-line appliance packages from respected brands such as La Cornue, Miele, Sub-Zero, Viking, and Wolf also carries its own challenges.
But unless you're doing a complete renovation, upgrading your kitchen occurs within a specific, finite space. The layout and existing structural elements, such as room transitions, doors, or windows, dictate the flow of particular components. You usually know where to place appliances, the sink, the cabinet, and the pantry.
Even with new construction, once you've dictated your wants and needs, the design of your kitchen is locked in place. Only minor tweaks are advisable once the basic layout begins to take shape.
The kitchen island, however, is different. Unmoored from any wall, the shape and structure of a kitchen island can take on any form and serve any purpose. Your only limitation is the square footage of your kitchen space, but in many cases, that simply promotes more creativity when designing an island.
Even if plumbed for water or gas or wired for electrical, the freestanding nature of the island offers complete flexibility. As a point of reference, the average kitchen island is 80 inches by 40 inches (slightly larger for open-concept kitchens), which can comfortably fit in a kitchen that measures between 150 and 175 square feet while seating four standard-size bar stools.
With that in mind, let's explore the specific considerations necessary to design a kitchen island with seating.
Take stock of your overall space
Start by measuring the area to determine the island's maximum size that still provides a comfortable user experience. But ensure you accommodate for variables such as the clearance space for cabinet, pantry, oven, and refrigerator doors.
Additionally, maintain awareness of your kitchen's work triangle—the distance between your sink, range, and refrigerator. Maybe not a huge concern at the outset of designing an island with seating, but a poorly planned work triangle makes using your kitchen a chore.
Once you determine the largest island you can comfortably fit within your kitchen's square footage, you can concentrate on the specifics of your island's design and its potential seating configuration. To jump-start the process, consider the following questions:
What is the island's primary use? Food prep and morning meals? A gathering space for close family and friends? An area for entertaining and accommodating larger groups of guests?
How vital is additional storage? Should the focus remain on optimizing the seating space or creating an island that serves several purposes, including a primary storage space?
Will you have to accommodate a sink or range-top cooking surface and an overhead vent hood? Or built-in features such as shelving or a nook for a microwave, dishwasher, ice maker, small beverage, or wine refrigerator?
Determine your ideal seating capacity
You'll want to put plenty of thought into your seating requirements now and in the future. When deciding seating capacity, consider the stools or chairs you might use and how they'll serve you, your family, your guests, and the overall space. For example, though more casual in appearance, backless stools tuck away out of sight when not in use. Stools and chairs with backs are less conspicuous, though they offer a more comfortable experience. Banquet or bench seating adds a cozy, high-end aesthetic to the kitchen, but you'll need a big space to pull it off. When planning your seating, counter height also factors into your island's overall size.
If you entertain regularly and account for other seating options, such as your dining room or additional breakfast nook, consider an island with at least four to six seats.
Shaping your island
While it's important to ensure your kitchen island and its seating are functional and serve your unique needs, there's no reason it can't also be an opulent centerpiece in your equally spectacular Greater Palms Springs home.
The shape of your island should complement the kitchen surrounding it, but you're not always bound by that requirement. From common or classic to contemporary or customized, there are several options to consider: