Transforming a centre island into a dual-purpose work-surface-cum-kitchen-table/dining-surface is a great way to update your home, increase its value at a low cost, create more storage space and add functionality to your kitchen.
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Expand a centre island--in the simplest way--into a dual-purpose component by extending one side of the island to accommodate new leg room; instantly, your work surface also becomes a dining surface, called a "breakfast bar." Add some cabinets or shelves halfway under the extended table surface to provide additional support. Another option: add two table legs onto the new corners. A third option: add everything--shelves, cabinet and table legs.
Create that cohesive look between mismatched surfaces (old centre island vs. new extension) with a new finish to all surfaces by repainting or refinishing. Then add a marble top to both surfaces.
Decide on cabinets/shelves or new table legs for exciting design possibilities. But choose a design consistent with the rest of your kitchen theme--shiny metal table legs clash with country-style themes.
Create a physical barrier between cooking and dining surfaces: build a two-tiered centre island. The top tier becomes your breakfast bar; while the lower is your prep area. A pretty back splash connects the two tiers, making your new island more functional, sanitary and easy to clean.
Place a table behind the current island. Maintain a minimum 6-inch height difference. Try a narrow foyer table or build a raised counter. You can add shelves/cabinets underneath, but leave enough leg room. Repaint/refinish all surfaces using one cohesive material/colour, visually creating a single new unit--no one will ever guess that you simply incorporated an addition.
Add bar stools and pendant lights as final touches, whether you merely extend your current centre island or create a two-tiered centre. You now have a tres chic, updated kitchen.
Tips and warnings
- If you are repainting anyway, use medium density fiberboard (MDF) as your extension or table material. Cherry or oak, on the other hand, adds a luxurious touch.
- Free kitchen island design plans are available online or at home improvement stores.
- Leave enough space to move between the new kitchen table/ extension and your nearest kitchen counter; or to comfortably open any doors (stove, refrigerator, cabinets/drawers) without interference.
- Shelves should only contain items related to the kitchen. Figurines/souvenirs give an outdated look to an otherwise updated kitchen.
- New trend: Use a different finish or colour than the rest of your kitchen counters and cupboards. Try a black centre island if you have a stainless steel kitchen or a red island in a kitchen with quiet colours.
- When installing sink/stove/pendant lights for your centre island, include the proper electrical/gas hookup. Think safety: use a licensed electrician/plumber.
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