6 New Kitchen Islands With Conversational Seating

Kitchen islands usually have chairs on either side, such as at a counter in a restaurant. It’s an ideal arrangement for certain people. For those who like face-to-face conversations sitting in a chair, not so much. Numerous island design options can facilitate this type of arrangement. Here, design and construction experts share their knowledge about islands that provide seats for conversation.

Homeowners’ request. “The living, dining room, and kitchen in this 1920s bungalow were all three separate rooms,” designer Valerie Helgeson, whose client came across her through Houzz. “The homeowners wanted to be able to see and interact with their family while in the kitchen and wanted to add seating.”

Island seating. “The kitchen’s width was just enough to allow for a center island, but there was only just enough room at one end of the island for a couple of stools,” Helgeson adds. “The curved end of the island makes it easier to pull up those stools and allows for a little more elbow room.”

Other unique features. “The Dutch door is my favorite feature in this kitchen,” Helgeson states. “It was a standard door we found in stock, and our extremely skilled carpenters transformed it into a Dutch door. The vent stack made of brick (partially visible on the left) is the original piece of the house. It wasn’t necessary to keep the vent stack, but I enjoy the story it tells about the old house. I love the look and feel it gives to the kitchen.”

It is constructed from European white oak. The countertops are made of quartz. The range of the hood, island, and shelving are made of rift-sawn white oak. For the backsplash, it’s a 5-by-5-inch piece. It looks like it was made by hand. The cabinets in green are a custom color similar to the Peale Green that Benjamin Moore manufactures.

Designer tip. “I love pairing wood cabinets with painted cabinets,” Helgeson says. “It gives a warm and inviting feel to kitchens and feels natural. Wet bars, a coffee area or island is a great place to have a different look as opposed to the cabinetry around it.”

“Uh-oh,” moment. “The kitchen window was original to the home,” Helgeson declares. “When we put up the cabinets that were built next to it, which were plumb and square, it was clear that the window in the kitchen was not. The window was so bent that it looked like it was out of a house that was fun to live in. We needed to do some work to straighten it up.”

Homeowners’ request. “The homeowners had a family farm in Hubbardston, Michigan, which featured a historic barn originally constructed around 1870,” says designer Katie Geresy, who used Houzz idea books to collaborate on designs with clients. “The property and barn belonged to families since they were bought by a great-grandfather around 1896.

“When it was an opportunity to dispose of the property the owners were looking to figure out a way to ensure the barn would remain in their family. They came up with the idea of transforming the structure’s history into an enclave home that could be used as a retreat situated on Donner Lake in Truckee, California. Set on a hill, the property is perfectly situated to make the most of the beautiful panorama from Donner Lake, Donner Summit and the mountain ranges that surround it.”

Island seating. “The original floor plans had this designed as any other island with bar stool seating and under-counter storage,” Geresy states. “After installing the style of the remainder of the kitchen, a Great room with an art nook and lavish decor, It was evident that the island required an open design to accommodate the same style of rustic and historical wood found in other areas of the house. The original concept was scrapped, and a custom item of furniture was chosen instead.

“Douse’s small size, the island had to be able to double as a dining table. The table was created to be movable and practical, with the owner and their children being able to move the table and chairs around to enjoy the view that overlooks Donner Lake from any direction. The chairs were selected to complement the overall design and style of the space and not block the views from the kitchen.”

Other unique features. “Forty-four thousand pounds of the barn’s original timber framing was carefully dismantled and shipped via train from Michigan to Cottonwood, California, where the architect, builder, and I met to hand-select the best pieces,” Geresy adds. “Each timber beam was carefully selected and included the side of each timber that will be displayed throughout the kitchen and at home. Apart from the beautiful beams, our eye is attracted by the Carrara marble backsplash tile in the herringbone pattern.”

The countertops are made of concrete-look quartz. They are painted clay Beige painted by Benjamin Moore.

Homeowners’ request. “At the top of their wish list was a well-designed kitchen, both aesthetically and functionally,” designer Amanda Raymond says. “State-of-the-art appliances were selected based on the client’s functional requirements, and the optimal layout was tailored to family dinners and occasional entertaining.”

Island seating. “At the heart of the existing kitchen was a large and highly utilized island, and keeping this was a high priority,” Raymond mentions. “With close proximity to the adjoining living and TV rooms it was a must to entertain family and friends. With a size of 36 by 86 inches there’s enough room on this island to activities and games.” An overhang at the island’s end provides an area for conversation in the corner.

Other unique features. “Spice storage, silver dividers, and a tall pantry storage ensured everything had its place,” Raymond adds. “Sherwin-Williams Indigo Batik displayed at the top of the table was woven throughout the house, creating an aesthetic connection across the entire house. The light and white (Extra White by Sherwin-Williams) cabinetry around the perimeter created lightness and striking contrast. Brass hardware and lighting provided the space with an understated elegance and accentuated the warm tones of the veining lattice in the Cambria quartz countertop. It’s difficult not to take note of the stunning impact of the massive ceramic hexagon tiles that accent the wall of the range. Subway tiles with a companion created continuity throughout the kitchen’s vast space.”

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