A convenient addition to any kitchen, an island bench is an effective multi-purpose feature.
To make the best use of them, however, it is best to consider where you will place your must-have appliances, how you intend to utilise the area and what you want to avoid.
Taking a look at the construction of island benches, Smart Homes for Living General Manager Anthony Oldershaw said the best material to use for an island bench was engineered stone, as it was sustainable and there were multiple finishes available.
“Engineered stone takes cues from the raw beauty of the natural stone,” he said. “There are marble finishes, shines, matte looks, imperfections – everything you want aesthetically.
“But, unlike the raw materials they’re modelled off, engineered stone is produced with lots of smart tech, so it’s better placed for real life and everything that throws at it.
“Benchtops see a multitude of sins and disasters over their time – red wine and pasta sauce anyone? So you want it to remain blemish-free.”
To make the most of your island bench, Mr Oldershaw recommended keeping it as clutter-free as possible.
“You want to allow adequate space in your kitchen for food preparation, especially if you’re a home chef,” he said.
“For this reason we often like to place the sink on the island bench, as it’s the smaller of appliances and leaves plenty of room for all your ingredients.”
In addition to the sink, Mr Oldershaw said ovens and dishwashers could also be tucked away in an island bench.
“Other than that, we’d recommend getting lots of overhead and under-mount cabinetry so those appliances that are used once in a blue moon are kept out of sight and out of mind,” he said.
“We also recommend including some power points on your island bench. You never know when you might want to plug in your laptop charger so you can work from this space.”
Adding to their versatility, all sides of an island bench can be utilised for storage.
“Another tip of ours is to add in some hidden touch-release cupboards on the other side of your island bench, away from your kitchen,” Mr Oldershaw said.
“This is the perfect spot to keep all of your entertaining items that aren’t used every day but you can’t live without.”
If you are looking to use the island bench for casual dining in addition to meal preparation, Mr Oldershaw provided some design tips, starting with the importance of space.
“You want to be able to seat four at a minimum, but six ideally,” he said.
“Consider overhanging benchtops with enough room to accommodate bar stools, or add a dining table on the end so it feels like the bench flows on.”
When it comes to designing a kitchen which flows well, positioning is an important aspect to consider, with Mr Oldershaw pointing to the kitchen triangle rule.
“At a minimum, island benches need to be 1.2m long,” he said.
“You want to make sure that they don’t block the working triangle, which is the work area between the sink, stove and fridge.
“Factor in cooking, storage and cleaning and ensure you have easy access to each of them to maximise efficiency while cooking.”
CONTACT Smart Homes for Living, 9241 1300, www.smarthomesforliving.com.au