Gather the family and entertain friends
with ease, with a kitchen island bench
WORDS Jessica Magliulo PHOTOGRAPHY Nick Clayton - the Sunday Mail Home Magazine 27-May-2012
From dawn to supper, the kitchen island bench is a hive of activity. No longer just for preparing food, it has evolved as a multi-functional space to suit busy lifestyles, acting as anything from a dining table to a study desk.
It's also ideal for entertaining, says Lee Goddard of Sarah Homes. "Cooking has become far more social and an island bench designed with bar seating and an in-built cooktop provides a great place for family and friends to gather around," she says. "Sinks are also popular or some people prefer to have a plain benchtop to allow maximum space."
Sarah Homes' McCubbin 130 design features a breakfast bar in the open kitchen and living area. It is a modern version of the traditional raised breakfast bar renowned for "closing in" a space.
"Today's extended island benches with chairs or stools have become the new breakfast or meals area," Lee says. "It's open, easy, casual and convenient, especially with children in the home."
As well as adding more seating and counter space, island benches can offer valuable storage, including drawers, cupboards and open shelves as well as specialised fridges for wine.
Aesthetic taste and budget will determine what your island bench is made from. Laminate is most commonly used and is an economical alternative to real stone. Manufactured materials, such as essastone and Freestyle by Laminex, are more durable and keep the door open to luxury design fittings such as inset sinks.
"It's important to choose materials that suit your lifestyle," Lee says. "If you are a serious cook, you may be better off with a heat and scratch-resistant material such as granite rather than a laminate.
"We're also seeing a move towards brighter splashes of colour such as red and green. In the McCubbin 130 we have gone for a pop of bright colour and then complemented with lighter colours in the rest of the area."