Santos kitchens with island created by the designer Natalia Zubizarreta
23 / 06 / 2022
For Natalia Zubizarreta, islands are incredibly aesthetically pleasing and practical units in the kitchen. In this article, the interior designer goes over the keys to designing them properly and illustrates them through a selection of Santos kitchens with island designed by her own studio.
Natalia Zubizarreta’s keys to designing kitchens with islands
Space and size
Natalia Zubizarreta always offers a very valuable piece of advice with regard to islands, which is about being realistic about the available space: if the size of the kitchen isn’t enough to hold an island, it’s actually better not to force the issue and simply do without one. In this regard, based on her experience, the island has to be at least 60 cm deep and 120 cm wide. This way, it can serve as a simple work surface. Now, if it also has to hold a sink and hob, then it has to be at least 320 cm wide. In any case, it’s also important to have a work aisle of about 70 cm around it, which will be enough for an island that has no seating area or is located in front of a work area.
If, on the other hand, the island has to have a counter for seating, 35 or 40 cm of depth must be added to the measurements given above, which would be enough for a sitting area with stools. There must be free space of at least 25 cm deep under the worktop for users to get their knees comfortably tucked underneath it. What’s more, there should be a work aisle of at least 80 cm to the wall, which would go up to 90 cm if the island is found in front of another unit or work surface.
For Natalia, the choice of worktop depends on what the island will be used for. If it comes with a washing-up or cooking area, it’s a good idea to choose more hard-wearing materials for the work surface such as porcelain, quartz and granite worktops. In contrast, if the island will only be used as a simple work surface, a wooden melamine or even more delicate materials can be chosen as the demands on it will be much less.
Natalia thinks islands play a special role in kitchens due to both their shape and layout, which is normally right in the centre. It’s for this reason that the designer believes in giving them a personality of their own, even though they might deviate from the overall look of the rest of the furniture. Thus, based on her perspective, it’s certainly possible to have a kitchen with units featuring fronts in a white finish and set them off against an island in a wooden finish and worktop in dark hues. The outcome would be extremely attractive, giving the room nuances and layers to make it look even better and more intriguing.
With regard to furnishing the island, the designer advises against units with doors which force users to bend down. She recommends going for drawer units with full-extension, large-capacity drawers and double drawers, as these are more practical when organising, locating and accessing their contents.
Likewise, she underlines the importance of paying close attention to the small details that – generally speaking – contribute towards improving the overall user experience in the kitchen. For example, she suggests having outlets on the sides of islands to make it easier to use small appliances, avoiding the risk of possible spills that could cause electrical problems. She also thinks it’s absolutely crucial to provide the island with auxiliary lighting by positioning spotlights or hanging lamps over it. These elements, aside from providing additional lighting to the work surface, add a tasteful and decorative touch that enhances the island’s area of influence, making it possible to create cosier and more pleasant atmospheres.