Home Sweet Home: Create Your Own Island

August 1st, 2016

kitchenislandBy: Cathy Osoria

A kitchen island is a relatively modern addition to the kitchen. It is named an island as it is a free standing area typically at the center of the kitchen that is used to add a little additional working space to the kitchen. An island can be the heart of the kitchen whether square, L shaped or rectangular, and it can bring an entirely new appearance to the kitchen. Islands can be secondary cooking and prep stations, and surfaces selected for the island top can make cooking less complicated.

Chopping vegetables on a butcher block top or making pastries on slick marble makes for a quicker clean up after the food prep.  Everyone can use more area to serve their guests food and beverages when entertaining. The main entree, desserts or veggies on serving trays and platters can all fit and be displayed on the newly created island top. Seat space is consistently short in a kitchen so the kitchen island is a method for adding working space, appliance stations and maybe even bonus storage. Kitchen islands with seating add a great deal of convenience.  They even may be used as a dinner table and are great places for kids to do homework.

It is a good idea to consider the kind of seating that is preferred before the island is installed as different kinds of seats will need  different heights and overhangs of the island top. An island can bring in other accent materials into the kitchen space to inspire a more interesting look.  The base of the furniture can be reclaimed wood orshelves with baskets or crates or a contrasting paint color from existing cabinets. The island top could be stainless steel, marble, granite, concrete or wood and can coordinate yet be different from existing counter tops to add interest.

There are portable and fixed kitchen islands.  The fixed model is built into the kitchen floor and after installed cannot be moved or modified easily.  It is built into the home so it can be shaped to be more customized to the kitchen size and offers the option of having plumbing or electricity built into this structure. Plumbing can accommodate a dishwasher, main sink or a smaller vegetable sink.

Electricity comes in handy for plugs and appliances that can be an island addition like a microwave, warming drawer, oven or stove.  Installing pull out trash cans,cooking utensil and spice drawers and pop up mixer cabinet will make one wonder how he/she made it this long without an island.

The portable kitchen island is an island that can be moved to different locations possibly when entertaining or moved nearer to the stove or sink when prepping food. It is an excellent alternative when there is limited space in the kitchen. It can be wheeled wherever it is needed. It can have the exact same characteristic as an island that is fixed such as an excellent table top made of wood, stainless steel or marble. It provides extra storage for wine, cook books, dishes, cooking utensils, linens or pots and pans. The bonus feature of a portable island is the possibility of moving it outside when entertaining.

Portable islands can be custom built to your specifications just like a fixed island or pre built ones may be purchased at a furniture store or online.  Even if pre built, they can be modified by adding towel bars for kitchen towels or painted an accent color or a different top may be purchased to add to the standard island but customized to make it fit the current space and needs.

Islands are functional, attractive additions to the home that can be the center of attention and family gatherings.

Home Sweet Home: Top Ten Decorating Mistakes

March 1st, 2015

entryBy Cathy Osoria

Ignoring windows
A room can become warmer with fabric used to soften the harsh edges of the typical square windows. Window treatments are so important. They are like art and need to be framed.  The solution is to treat the windows with shutters, shades or curtains for warmth and privacy.

Ignoring the entranceway
The entrance to a home sets the stage for how guests will feel in the rest of the home. One solution is adding wallpaper or art or an interesting piece of furniture with a lamp on top for extra light.

toiletrugToilet rugs
Never use a rug that is cut to fit around the bottom of the toilet or a rug for the top of the toilet.  The solution is to keep the toilet top rug- free so that it is no longer a dust collector. Besides there is no need to draw more attention to the top of a toilet. A small square or rectangular rug can replace the rug that is cut to surround the toilet base.

Too formal
A comfortable inviting space is the desired effect in a home. The  solution is to use fabrics that are easily cleaned. Also furniture should be arranged in a grouping so that conversation is easier.

Improper lighting
A room that is over-lit can be blinding and unwelcoming, and a space that is too dark makes it non functional. The solution is to add proper lighting  which can help a room function properly ( as in the kitchen prep area) , showcase art, and provide ambiance lighting to set the mood for family and guests.

darkroomOut of place theme rooms
Everyone loves a beach resort, but your home in the city does not need to look like it belongs in a coastal magazine. Themes like coastal, western, Tuscan, lodge are good in small doses and accents.  The solution is to keep a flow going throughout the home that is minimalistic and neutral so that accents can be added when wanted.

Uncomfortable dining chairs
Guests and family should be able to enjoy every phase of the meal from the food to comfortable seating.  The solution is to select dining chairs that have padded seats of some sort.

Frames mounted too high
Art should be enjoyed at eye level so that one’s neck does not have to be strained. The solution is to center the picture at eye level (66 inches  is standard).

Lack of traffic flow
One should be able to walk comfortably between and around furniture.  The solution is to place furniture in a formation that creates a flow leaving a minimum of 24 inches between most pieces (the sofa and coffee table) . A simple test is to determine whether vacuuming can be performed easily between the pieces of furniture.

Fake flowers
Fake flowers just collect dust.  The solution is add real flowers and plants that add beauty and life to a space.

badcarpetToo many pillows
If you are constantly moving pillows to use the furniture, then you have too many.  The solution is to add accent pillows  but not enough to get in the way of the function of the furniture.
Rugs that are too small: A small rug can make a room appear uncomfortable and the space more cramped.  The solution is a larger rug where the furniture can be placed on the rug or at least the front legs. This makes the room appear larger and seem more cozy for conversations with guests.

Keeping something you hate
Whether it is old green carpet one has never really liked , a gift that never really “fit,”or a hand me down that would  cause guilty feelings if it were passed down to the next “lucky” family member …the solution would be to just get rid of it rather than keeping it when it does not make one happy in one’s own home.

Bay Area Houston Magazine