If home is where the heart is and the kitchen is where the warmth is, a kitchen island is where the conversation is.

The six hottest trends for 2015 will bring the party into the kitchen, keep the host involved in the fun and make daily life a little easier with great function.

As Erika Geiser, vice president of marketing for Christopher Homes, said, the biggest trend in kitchen islands is having them: “They want them. They want them to use and entertain. And they want something creative, different and unique.”

Gone are the days of the small butcher block islands that offered a place for a cutting board. Islands now dominate the room and offer a focal point with a pop of color, a different texture or an irregular shape.

“Island designs that are asymmetrical, or arch, help facilitate conversation around the kitchen island,” said Elicia Trujillo, architectural product manager at Beazer Homes.

The bigger the island, the more function and grandeur it can bring.

“Color, under-cabinet lighting, storage, deep overhangs with dramatic decorative posts and tile insets … can become the calling card for the home,” Trujillo said.

Feeding the children and keeping the kitchen clean are parenthood’s ultimate feats. Separate refrigerator drawers in a kitchen island stocked with kid-friendly snacks, drinks and leftovers will give those children freedom to feed themselves. Bonus? It will also keep their hands off your ice cream in the main refrigerator and minimize the floor space they can coat with a juice box.

No kids? Still keep those drawers in mind. You can set the individual temperature on a drawer to keep vegetables crisp or beer cold. And they are handy for separating the food you need for tonight’s dinner party.

“It’s a great convenience to have that appliance in the island and at your fingertips,” Geiser said.

By bringing appliances into the island, the host can be the center of the party, mom or dad can keep one eye on the meal and the other on those rambunctious kids and the tired 9-to-5er can come home and cook with a clear sightline to primetime TV.

“Having the appliances in the island enables the cook to interact with the family or entertain the guests rather than having their back turned as they get things done in the kitchen,” Trujillo said.

Think prep sink, wine coolers, cooktops, pull-out spice racks, trash compactor and, perhaps most importantly, an extra dishwasher.

“The kitchen island is critical. It is the place to gather, converse and prepare the food and drinks for family and guests,” said Joe Whatley, owner of Liberty Homes.

Ditch the breakfast nook and traditional dining space inside your kitchen for a single, multilevel island that offers functional eating space differentiated from the food prep area.

“Even just a raised glass countertop area for seating offers another level,” Geiser said.

Traditional, single-level, bar-style seating at an island leaves guests sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. A shaped, multilevel design, helps engage guests and incorporates conversation into the kitchen.

“An island should serve as a workspace and a gathering area. Seating is important for quick meals, breakfast, coffee bar, work station for your laptop and seated guest while you are preparing for entertaining,” Whatley said.

Islands are incorporating three and four levels and even extend to a lower level to incorporate a full table with standard dining room chairs.

Forget sweeping through your kitchen and hiding all the unmentionables in the kitchen island just before the guests come over. Functional cabinetry keeps a kitchen organized, easy to use and accessible. Tucking the recycling bin into the cabinets allows the cook to rinse the cans in the prep sink and drop them straight into the recycling.

Add a Kitchen Aid mixer stand straight into the cabinetry for easy baking. Geiser said the mixer stand has been met with great interest. The mixer remains on the stand and plugged in under the cabinet and pops up on a shelf for easy use, cleanup and storage. Or just upgrade standard cabinetry to add more function: lights that come on when you open the drawer, inlaid cutting boards and silverware trays.


After View. Click on image for larger view

“A properly designed island should have access to storage from at least three sides,” Whatley said.

Waterfall granite on the side of the island is popular, said John McDonough of Canyon Creek Custom Homes and Remodeling. It creates a slab that extends from floor to floor across the top of the island and looks seamless.

Pop-up outlets that are inlaid under the granite offer the functionality, but don’t interrupt the design space, Geiser said.

“A new detail that’s kind of exciting, but not limited to islands, is a phone charger built into the faceplate of an outlet. You literally plug your phone into the outlet without a cord,” she said. “Who doesn’t need to charge their phone these days?”

Most important, design for the function you need (Are you an entertainer, a weekday cook or a baker?) and add a little flair just for you.

“Not every woman wants the same black dress that all the other women on the block have,” Trujillo said.