Sometimes I think my “handle” should be space doctor. 

I just cannot help myself, really I can’t. In kitchens with an island, my eye automatically zooms to see if it has an appliance as a sink or a cooking range installed in it? To my amazement, regardless of the size of a kitchen or even if it is very high end (expensive) in most kitchen, islands do have an appliance of either a range top or sink.  

Take a look at the mixer the girls and I are using and also notice the flat stainless cooking sheet like pan. Only it is the cover for the Bosch Cooking Machine, the only appliance I “allowed” on my island.

As you see BobBob lovingly waxing our solid walnut island, where you can see the Bosch Cooking Machine. I loved it as a mixer, food processor, and blender, but expecially because it did not take up space one covered.

Many ask how can a kitchen function to the highest level without a sink or range in the island?

Here are 3 kitchens that I designed for these owners that love to entertain and are exceptionally good cooks, including myself… 🙂

This beautiful kitchen was a total remodeling project taking down walls with many other major construction upgrades. This is a perfect example of a high function, multiporpose island for this very social, empty nest couple who loved to entertain.

Here is part of this island, a prep sink almost hidden but used for a second cook, or cooling beverages, or iced down for shrimp or other delights.

I must also add that I have gotten into hot water many times with contractors or builders or an occasional client who challenged my request to avoid appliances in the kitchen island. But because I am convinced with years of kitchen designing, as you can guess, I was armed and ready to do battle. There are very few things I go to battle over in designing interiors, always leaving room for differing opinions, However, if I only hear, “but where else would a sink or a range go?”,  I have had to be qualified and prepared to do the extra space planning design to show how it can be done.

Here are my reasons why I believe islands should be free of appliances:

1. Even Though the work triangle may seem like an outdated rule today ,the principles remain in achieving the optimum functionality. However, since our kitchens have become the place that life is lived today, many new layouts are the new acceptable work triangle.

My own kitchen layout was a real challenge but after hours and hours of planning, I had it figured out. If you look carefully, the business part of my kitchen was all within cooking functioning and clean up. It worked like a charm making me a very happy cook. The constant question asked was where is your dishwasher? Aha, it is at the end of the island opposite the sink. Best ergonomic loading and unloading experience ever.

2. Kitchen island appliances are rarely magazine photo ready.

Unless there is never cooking which in turn means there are no dishes to clean up, how then can an island appliance be attractive? Oh yes, I know of the awesome sinks and even more awesome faucets and flat sleek stove top ranges. Let’s be honest, always spotless with no pans or dishes?

          And I have sat at tons of island bar stools eating or snacking looking at a not so pretty view of the cooking pans, dishes, or whatevers. Why do we want this view? 

3. Appliances in an island hinders unlimited use or entertaining possibilities.

I wish that I could show you all the wonderful functions that occured from our kitchen island. To name a few, there were baby and wedding showers, fund raising events, large happy hour gatherings, parties, and most importantly, family dinners and cooking with my grandchildren.

Lights dimmed for an intimate evening with special friends even though it was a fairly large crowd, the island did its magic.

4. The kitchen is the heart of the home.

Where do we all gather? In the kitchen of course so why only seasonally accessorize the dining room table? Who sees your dining room and how often do you use your dining room for dinners?

What joy it is for me to create a cheerful welcoming tablescape for my own simple pleasures but certainly for everyone vising my home. It says I care. I go the extra mile of effort to bring beauty into the everyday by seasonal flowers or traditional holiday décor and with little effort, you can too!

After all, it takes so little to make even our kitchens a place of ever-changing beauty. This is where life is lived for most people or families. Therefore, whether a designer or not, we all know how the simple pleasures in life can leave a lasting impression or give someone just the exact lift they need. 

Wishing you all a kitchen filled with lots and lots of joyful elements for your deserving self and everyone else blessed to be in your wonderful presence.

Living and Loving Life Together,

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  1. Rebecca

    I love the way you think about the island! So smart to keep the surface clear for all the various ways you would use it.

    • mitzi beach

      I am always happy when I know I have reached others that share my point of view. Thank you Rebecca for commenting!

  2. Janet Lorusso

    I so agree, Mitzi! Having an island with uninterrupted work/serving space is essential! And while I concede to a sink occasionally if I have no other choices, a cooktop makes NO sense to me and just seems incredibly dangerous!

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you Janet for mentioning the danger of cooktops in an island. I mean seriously, it is perplexing that more do not realize what you wrote. Wait to you read my next weekend post about safety. I am alreaady getting ready to duck on this one!

  3. Leslie Carothers

    I, too, love the idea of #islanduninterrupted! Looking at a clean expanse of anything leaves me feeling calmer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mitzi, about all of this. Your clients are fortunate to work with you, as you are a real cook who understands their needs, and understands how to design for them!

    • mitzi beach

      Love your response to my post Leslie! And you know, the “older” I get, the more I definitely require a calm, ordered, and peaceful envioronment and my kitchen is no exception. Even making the bed in the morning is part of keeping my world in order.

  4. cheryl Kees Clendenon

    Great post Mitzi! I enjoyed reading it and seeing your photos! The island is a workhorse in any kitchen. Sometimes we can’t avoid a sink in it but sure don’t want a cooking surface if we can help it!

    • mitzi beach

      Being a space planning guru like your tiny house, it means a lot that you agree with my point of view. And like Janet commented, no cooking surface on the island. Side note, watching All Rise on TV last nite, right there, 3 main characters were having pancakes on an island maybe 36″ wide with a gas cooktop. Seriously? Another faux pas, there were no pans and the cooktop was immaculate!

  5. Lisa Peck

    I agree about a prep sink being the only thing in an island when possible. I admire your thoughtful approach to this subject

    • Robin Maria Pedrero

      I too enjoy a clear workspace in my kirchen. I adore your pictures!!

      • mitzi beach

        Like you Robin, needed is a place to do what we need to do without working around an appliance. Thank you for loving my photos too!

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you Lisa for acknowledging my point of view on islands. However, evidently we are in the minority since we more often than not see islands with an appliance and the worst is a cooktop!

  6. Linda Merrill

    Love this so much Mitzi! I’m not a fan of open floor plans, but if you’re going to have one – a pretty island without appliances will at least hide the working part of the kitchen.

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you Linda! You are the only one that mentioned open floor plans which is what I had in my former home as my kitchen shows. This makes it even more imperative to work harder at designing a layout to free up the island to multipurpose with all of life’s demands.

  7. Heather

    I love designing crisp and clean islands too 🙂

    • mitzi beach

      Yea Heather! We are kindred spirits on this too. Your clients are fortunate to have you design for them.

  8. Maureen Costlow

    Right again! No sinks for viewing on kitchen island??

    • mitzi beach

      Yes, Maureen! Love that we are in the same design philosophy!

  9. Carol Straub

    It is the heart of the home! My son and family had an island with cook top in their previous home and it was a problem!

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you so much for sharing your son’s family challenge with a cooktop in the island, especially with children. Unfortunately we have to learn bad design or inappropriate design after we have experienced it first hand,
      And thank you for commenting!

  10. Jillian

    I’m in total agreement with you. This is always one of my goals too. I much prefer to have nothing in the island, but sometimes it’s truly unavoidable.

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you Jillian for being a designer with like minded kitchen layout goals for the good of the client, not for us. Because after our work is done , they have to live with our designs.

  11. Christina Rodriguez

    I’ve always disliked kitchen islands because they get so cluttered. I may have to rethink that!

  12. Sheri Bruneau

    What an interesting take on the island. While I have designed a number of kitchens with the cooktop on the island, we have been very fortunate to be able to design a very large island where there is still plenty of room for entertaining and prep.

    I find we are consistently ripping out the multi-tiered islands for clients as that is the largest pain-point for them in their space.

    I am also in agreement with the cooking triangle and it being an outdated concept!

  13. Mary Ann Benoit

    What a great idea!! I am not much of a cook so really appreciate the perspective of someone like you who really knows the ins and outs of what makes a kitchen really work, and not just for cooking but entertaining. And it looks so much nicer! Brilliant!

  14. Suzi Rugg

    Beautiful! We all sit around our island too! I totally agree, appliances should not be in the island, but I do like a drawer microwave though!

    • mitzi beach

      Thank you Suzi! I am with you on the drawer microwave becasue it does not affect the island counter top. BTW, We had a drawer microwave for 12 years with constant use and totally loved it!

  15. Leann Barth

    Mitzi, I love this article. When we built our current home, I had to convince the builder that I wanted an island with no appliances. It is a fabulous spot, at the perfect height for wrapping packages, cutting and laying out quilt fabric as well as entertaining.

    • Mitzi

      How wonderful to hear from you Leann! And I loved your “smartness” to argue and insist on no appliances in your island. My goodness already, it is so difficult to get some builders to be open minded to new designs.
      I also love how you use your island for so many different multitasking tasks…so very creative!
      Thank you so much for commenting.