Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Island dreaming

Hello all! I’m excited about our family room renovation for many reasons, but one of the biggies is that I feel like I can finally move ahead with the kitchen as well. I’ve been planning it for literally YEARS but wasn’t sure about a few things until we were able to move things around. It’s still a long way off – I won’t start till next year. But I am wanting to move ahead with the island expansion sooner than later.

Could be because it now looks like this:

Instead of this: wood counter on island

It was torn up to put the hardwoods underneath and I can live with it like that for awhile, but soon it will drive me crazy. Not there yet. Soon.

So like all big projects, I have to sit on it for awhile and daydream about what I want. I find when I do that I end up with something that functions and looks good – both are important to me when I DIY.

My plan is to expand the island two directions – length-wise and width-wise. When I say width I mainly mean extending the sides out to kind of “frame” the stools, like this:

kitchen island with sides built out

(source)

So it won’t be much wider – maybe a few inches. But I love this added detail on islands.

I loved this idea too:

extra storage kitchen island

(source)

The added storage is never a bad thing, am I right? I think that is brilliant. It’s easy to access the cabinets too, which is important.

I’ve always planned on a small bookshelf at the end of the island for cook books and other things we grab often (stop laughing…I cook sometimes):

bookcase in island

But I may not have room for those cookbooks because now I’m dreaming of having a food station for the animals in the island, like this:

dog food station

I shared a bunch of food storage ideas here and I could totally DIY this one.

But the BIG thing I want to do in the kitchen island is take the microwave off the wall and put it in there somewhere:

black island marble counter

(source)

I know this isn’t for everyone but I think it’s BRILLIANT. Of course we would need a smaller microwave that vents differently, but I love the idea. I could put a vent hood over the oven where the microwave is now.

Some are built in seamlessly:

built in microwave kitchen island

(source)

microwave storage in island

(source)

But I think I could create something that would work just as well – I don’t need it to be completely built in. Sitting there is just fine. :)

I loved this whole kitchen but this one is a good example:

microwave built in island

(source)

And this is a similar island set up:

microwave in kitchen island

(source)

Love the pretty detail on that one!

So that’s my plan – add storage, shelving, a food station and a microwave. It will be ten feet long by the time I’m done with it. ;) We were able to move the island out a bit so after it’s extended there will be plenty of room between the stove and the island. We’ll still be able to walk around it when the door is open so it won’t feel cramped.

I’m excited about this project – just not sure when I’ll tackle it since I have so much to do in the family room. But I have a plan in mind and that’s half my battle!

Do you have a big kitchen island with a ton of storage? Is your microwave down low? I’d love to hear your experience with it!

41 comments:

  1. In my previous home I had a 12 ft island that I loved, and yes the micro was built in, I loved it, super convenient. We had our sink in the island with the dishwasher on one side, then storage, micro on the other end with a large drawer underneath. Love, love, love your ideas.

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  2. Ten feet! It's going to look awesome! I love that you're planning a vent hood. I plan to move my microwave one day and do the same. Our teeny tiny island won't be able to house it, but I already found a spot for it. ;)

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  3. That's very exciting! My microwave is built into the island. I love it, especially to keep it off the counter and allow all the available upper cabinet/shelving space possible. We probably use it once daily, if that so it was an easy adjustment. I do end up with doggies watching things nuke since it is perfectly eye level for them though.

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  4. My island is 9.5' x 4.5'. I think it's massive. Everyone who sees it thinks it's massive. I always tell people it didn't look that big on paper :) But, I love and use every foot of it. I didn't put a prep sink in (against my builder's advice) because I wanted a huge island for buffet serving. In hind sight, I would put a sink in. I have my trash in the island (a cupboard door that pulls out two trash cans) and I love that. That was my husbands one request in the kitchen - that the trash not be under the sink. I like being able to just sweep all the crumbs right into the trash. I also have my microwave down below and that's probably my favorite thing. Another suggestion would be to not have all of your seating on one side. We use our seating all the time and having it on two sides is so much better for conversation. Can't wait to see what you end up doing!

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  5. I don't have an island or a microwave down low, but my son and daughter-in-law bought a new home last year that has the microwave in the island. It took them a while to get accustomed to it, but now they really like it. I love what you've done to your family room. I'm a big fan of knocking down walls, and I've recently had a couple of walls put back up in a huge home renovation.
    Bertie DeWane

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  6. Always wondered how those with microwaves below counter top dealt with getting things out (sometimes heavy things) as opposed to the kind that pulls out with a drawer which I think would work best. Feedback?

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    1. I'm not sure! I would think it would be easier to lift something out than pull it down from up high -- not sure though. I'll have to do some research into what kind of microwave is best for something built in like this.

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  7. We have a 18 foot island (I know, crazy) that is breakfast bar height, and then an additional island that is counter height, much like yours. I love all of the seating and just the statement it makes in the room. The kiddos do their homework there and it makes it easy to check homework and cook at the same time. I can't wait to see what you do with your kitchen.

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  8. Moving the microwave from above the range in our kitchen and using a vent hood instead turned out to be one of the changes that paid back the most when we did our budget makeover. I cant explain why but somehow it lifted the kitchen to the next level - I still marvel at the difference it made several years later. I guess it opened up the space above the range and made our small kitchen feel more spacious. We did something pretty on the wall behind the range so that was nice. I guess ultimately the range is one of the most used appliances so to make that area as good-looking as possible is important. It's going to be great!

    Mary

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  9. I love the pet station! SO cute! We rented a home on vacation that had the microwave in the island and I thought I was going to need a chiropractor. It was fine for small amount we used it for the week but I know it would do a number on my back with as much as we use the microwave daily. I'd be Quasimoto within a week! LOL Can't wait to see how yours turns out!

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  10. Ten feet long?! Oh, how jealous I am! I would love a gigantic island, but it's just not in the cards with our kitchen setup. So, I will live vicariously through you. ;-)

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  11. I've been following this amazing transformation you've been making and I am so glad that you decided on the BIG island. You will love it!! Our island is built out on the sides too and it makes it look so finished I think. We had chair type stools with backs on them at first, and it was nice to push them under and not see the legs (silly I know, but it was nice), we now have some vintage type round top stools and are able to push them all the way under and have the extra space in the passageway and they see completely hidden under the island. It's nice for bringing in groceries from the garage and not having to lift the bags over the backs of the chairs. (again silly, but really a nice bonus of being able to slide those chairs underneath)
    We also have our microwave down low and LOVE it. We have 8 kids, so for us it gets a lot of use and it's nice to have it down where they can reach it. Our other house had it above the stove and it drove me crazy with all the counter climbing by them to try to reach it. We have never had a problem with them messing around with it or putting crazy things in it to try and "cook" which was my concern at first. They love being able to be independent (with supervision) and help make some food.
    In response to another comment we haven't felt like it was too hard lifting anything too heavy out of it, in fact it seems much more comfortable than our above stove one. I am very short (only 5'2") so trying to maneuver a very large or heavy pot out of the above stove microwave always seems a little awkward to me. I was always afraid I may end up spilling hot food on me while trying to keep it steady above me (if that makes sense).
    You will LOVE all the extra storage in the island. We have several drawers and the two cabinet style doors actually open to have pull out drawers in them. I would highly recommend those if you can swing it. It makes so much better use of the space and makes everything so assessable to reach-no digging through everything to try to reach the back of the cupboard. Our builder also surprised us a bit and built a few shallow cabinets under the stool area that are perfect for some craft items that aren't used as often, but we still wanted in the kitchen area. It was nice not to have to use up too much valuable cabinet or drawer space for those things.
    I love the bookshelf and pet station idea too. So convenient and gets their dishes off of the floor where they are sometimes tripped over. Keep up the great work, everything looks so beautiful so far!

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  12. ooohhh I cannot wait to see what you do with it! Do doubt it will look amazing. I cannot wait to one day have a kitchen with an island in it!!!

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  13. My first thought about the microwave is children putting stuff in there. LOL! However, your boy is old enough to know better. I'm surprised at the comments about the microwave, I would think having it that low would be annoying. That's interesting.

    Either way, whatever you do will be awesome!

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  14. We are hoping to move into a house with a gorgeous kitchen. It has a massive island with storage on both sides. The oven is in that island and they have a countertop microwave. I am not a fan of the countertop microwave and I am already trying to figure out a spot to put a wall or drawer microwave. I love your idea of it on the side. I am hesitant to give up storage spots though as my current tiny town house has 2 pantries. I think this new kitchen will work though because it is bigger then my current one. We are waiting for appraisal of the house as we do not expect it to appraise and the seller will not negotiate.

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  15. Our microwave has a rounded back end and therefore sits right into a corner of the work top. All the pics look so smart but I cannot see a vent in any of them..... so where will the moisture go then? However, you will get this right I know, so you can tell us then how you did it!!

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  16. I love your ideas. I can't wait to see what you do. My micro is above the stove. That is fine with me. For my island, I want to add shelves to the end of it for cookbooks and such. I want to add bead board to the sides and back (builder grade cabinets here) and then take gel stain to them and stain it all to match the new hardwood floor that is going in.

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  17. My neighbors have a microwave that opens like a drawer, and I love it. Because you load it from the top she never has to bend down to put stuff in or get it out. She made sure the island was high enough so she wouldn't have to bend down, if that makes sense. I babysit there a lot, so I have been using it and am totally jealous. : )

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  18. Im so excited to see what you end up doing. I like the pet station :)
    If I had dogs I would do that.
    Oh, and sorry to tell you this, but to me your current kitchen island looks like little sperms swimming up the sides! Maybe that will annoy you enough to change it sooner :)

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  19. The title of this post misled me, I thought you were having an Island vacation! :D Now I see the kind of island you're talking about! Taking the microwave off from above the stove was one of my priorities when my kitchen makeover (http://goo.gl/Igxj98) was done, I built a wooden range hood and the microwave went right there to the island, which by the way, was expanded a bit with a bookshelf to store all the cooking books that I've never used! My kids love that they can use the microwave all by themselves and I don't mind it there either because I'm a short person and we don't use it that often. The ones that open like a drawer would be a better option specially for tall folks.
    You have lots of space and lots great ideas, can't wait to see which way you take!

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  20. Holy crap! I had no idea islands could do so much! I guess because I don't have one. I really like the microwave idea the best. Such a good place for kids to heat up their snacks if they can't reach one up high.

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  21. I have a pretty small kitchen with not a lot of counterspace. The microwave was sitting on the counter when we moved in. I thought that I was so clever creating a special cut out for it in the island the way you are envisioning....now I see that I'm not the only one who thinks that its a great idea. My grandchildren love watching the food go round and round while it cooks. So far, none of them have ever tried to cook a toy!!You will love that arrangement!

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  22. We have a large kitchen island with the microwave hidden behind double opening doors. I absolutely love not looking at it, and as a bonus, you can shut the doors & it's much quieter when operating.
    I think you should consider hiding it behind doors. :)

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  23. When we built this home 9 years ago, the original plan was to put the microwave in the island because that was pretty much the only place it could go (or so we thought) because we have a huge 6 burner gas cooktop and had to have a big hood for proper venting. It was never my favorite idea to begin with, but ya do what ya gotta do, right? Well, wrong! As we were nearing the point of no return (aka - we're ordering the microwave and finalizing the details of the island) I had the crazy brilliant idea to put it in our pantry. We have a small walk-in pantry and found a microwave that is perfect for it! Every day I use it I am so happy with the decision to put it there vs. the island. You never see it, but it is right there when you need it. I know your pantry isn't a walk in, but it could still work for you. You would lose half of a shelf in there, but with some reorganization of some things it could be doable. You have way more cabinets for storage than we do so maybe shifting some things from the pantry to the cabinets could work. Just a thought.

    Robin

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    1. i like that. now that is a new one.

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    2. I've considered that too -- does it have to have an special venting or anything to put it in there?

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    3. No, it's just a counter top microwave so there isn't any special venting, but I do make sure to leave a little bit of space between it and whatever gets put on that shelf.

      Robin

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  24. Our microwave started down low and it was pretty annoying. Since then, it has sorta floated around the kitchen from place to place. Bottom line, IMHO, one has to decide if they'd rather sacrifice counter space or lean over to use the microwave. It depends on how much you use it vs how much prepping/bread kneading etc you do. But of course you can try it and change stuff later :) Girl's prerogative right?

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  25. Beautiful dreams! I look forward to following the transformation! This is going to be wonderful! Though I don't have an island (yet), I have dreamed, too, what I would like. Definitely a place for the cookbooks and garbage can. I go back and forth about the lowered microwave, mostly due to space limitations - but really want a built-in range hood. I love the pet station just to keep the bowls off the floor! Cristina Garay's kitchen makeover, especially that range hood, really encouraged me to take a good look at what I can accomplish with mine.

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  26. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the pet station!!!! Being a doggie owner it is always hard to find a spot for the bowls and food and not have it in the way. If I am lucky to get a kitchen one day with a large island, I am definitely adding a food station. Thanks for sharing that awesome idea.

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  27. Love the pet station. I don't have room for an island but if I did that would definitely be a priority!

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  28. Microwave and pet station embedded in the kitchen island. Wow. Never thought about this. Great way to save that extra space being smart. Thanks for sharing these great tips with us.

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  29. I have a silly question, but I'm very curious. You often write about not cooking. Do you just "snack" for dinner, get take-out, or does your husband cook? Inquiring minds want to know:)

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    1. We do eat out a lot! Especially in the summer -- but in the fall and winter I tend to cook more at home. :)

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  30. So many incredible kitchen photos! I'm getting very jealous of all that space! I love the microwave idea - that would be a great space saver!

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  31. Local Indy gal here. We redid our kitchen last summer and put the microwave under the counter. Initially an aesthetic decision, but now I really like that our 7 year old can use it independently. I designed the opening so that the cool drawer mic could fit there in the future, but for now we have a regular one, not too large. I notice that a lot of design photos don't show proper ventilation clearance, but I'm sure you will get that right! -- Rae

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    1. Yes I wondered about that -- I would think it would need room to breathe. I would love for our son to be able to use it too, that will be a bonus!

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  32. http://build-basic.com/build-a-diy-kitchen-island-2/#.U_h9PGK9KK1

    Thought of you Sarah when I saw this on censational girl's botb

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  33. Love all of those ideas! Of course, we have Labs, so cute water bowls are out of the question in my house LOL.

    I liked the example you showed with the micro and bookcase ideas put together. That would leave your other end (har har) free for the food station. AND, if you did decide to do the cabs on each end (which is genius, BTW), one could be a tip-out bin for pet food!

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