The trend towards big granite islands continues, and we can understand why. An island in your kitchen means you can work without turning your back on others in the room. It can mean keeping an eye on the kids doing their homework or playing while you prepare or cook something special for later. It can mean chatting with a friend over a glass of wine, face to face, with no interruption in what needs to be done. A relaxed space in your kitchen – that is what an island can create. We have written about issues of size and island design here – this article looks at cutouts for hobs and sinks, and at electrical supply.
Granite islands – a stunning slab of Azul Platino Granite in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
With no cutout for sink or hob, it is a desert island, but all the more striking for that.
On the practical side, by locating sink or hob in them, granite islands can mean getting that classic triangle of sink – fridge – cooker really tight and convenient WITHOUT the kitchen feeling closed in and claustrophobic. In other words, an island can help to keep your work area practical and compact in a really large and wow-factor room. And with the fashion for waterfall downstands (where the granite appears to flow over the end of the island to form a mitred panel at one end only) granite islands are bang on trend.
The Lagoon – Granite Islands with Sinks
Large Ivory Fantasy Granite Island with preparation sink near Guildford, Surrey
Islands with sinks in are relatively uncommon. I guess the reason is that, while preparation and cooking on the hob lend themselves to conversation across the island (glass of wine and all), washing up tends to keep the eyes down and it feels slightly weird to be opposite someone. And certainly, on small islands, a big sink strikes us as very odd – where is the space to put everything? Certainly, this small sink island is prettier than it is useful.
The most frequent use of sinks on islands is for preparation sinks. The washing up may be elsewhere, but the washing and rinsing of vegetables can be conveniently done right where the prep is happening if a prep sink is built in.
The Volcano – Granite Islands with Hobs
Far more common than the island with the main sink is the island with a hob. A great food preparation space is right alongside the main cooking area.
A big hob set in a Kashmir Gold Granite Island
With big hobs, the extra depth of stone can also be an advantage as the whole slab is strengthened, relative to a narrow worktop with a large cutout.
Hob in a Paisley Gold Granite Island, Betchworth, Surrey
Obviously, with hobs on islands and peninsulars, the issue of fume and steam extraction needs to be tackled. Although large traditional extractor hoods are still common, other solutions are available.
Traditional Hood above a
Black Pearl Granite Peninsular
Retractable extractor fan behind a hob in a
Paisley Gold Granite island
Extractor fan as lampshade over a hob in
a 20mm thick Cimstone Sines Quartz island
Given enough space, it is possible to have both prep sink and hob on an island – here with the main sink on the worktop at the back.
The Power Question – Getting Electricity to your Island
One challenge in the design for quartz and granite islands is electricity. For food preparation, KitchenAids and Kenwoods need power. The breakfast bar can be most useful with a coffee maker and a toaster to hand. And all of that is quite apart from the essentials of family life in the modern kitchen – phone charging and laptop running.
Obviously, worktops against a wall have relatively straightforward power supply via wall sockets, but islands are another matter. There are several solutions:
1 Avoid the use of electricity on the island – keep it simple, use your wall sockets and keep the centrepiece clear. But this is not always practical or desirable, especially where the island is the centre of family life in the kitchen. If you want to be together in this space, power needs to get there.
2 Use sockets in the end panels of the island. This has the great advantage of keeping the surface of the granite intact, which is really nice if you have no sink or hob cutout. On the down side, though, cables have to come up round the edge of the island. This always worries me, especially if there are small people in the house.
3 Go for a pop-up socket. These are neat, cause as little disruption to your island surface as possible, provide multiple power points, and generally direct usb charging, if not network connectivity too. The only drawback is if you intend to use the island surface for food prep and perhaps especially pastry or dough work. I don’t fancy the thought of a socket gradually filling with stale flour.
4 On a double-level island it is possible to mount standard wall-type sockets in the “step” between the two levels. This can be a really neat solution, and yet is surprisingly rare.
Island with sink but no electrical supply –
it can be advisable not to mix them!
Power socket near corner of island,
showing pilaster corner; Azul Platino granite
Keeping it clean – worktop uncluttered, with no cutouts – power at the end of the island
Steel Grey Granite – Cuckfield, West Sussex
Retracted popup socket in Ivory Fantasy Granite
Popup socket with USB ports in Cimstone Sines quartz island
Popup sockets are available which have “lids” in the worktop material. These work best with fine grain or pattern materials, as the piece that fits in is NOT the piece that is cut out.
Two level granite island with power sockets set in the step
Big islands go on dominating kitchen design. In some ways they keep things simple for us: an island with a single straight worktop run, and most storage in tall cupboards often avoids any joins. Linear kitchens of that type also lend themselves to big-pattern stones – the visual impact of granite islands has been a big part of the recovery of the natural stone market over recent years. Fitting sinks, hobs and power sockets presents its challenges, but when the job is done well, the wow-factor is huge.