Angie's List: The modern-day kitchen island - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Angie's List: The modern-day kitchen island

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(WKOW) -- Know how when you have a party, everyone seems to end up in the kitchen? Designers have noticed, too, and because of it, kitchen islands – a fixture in modern kitchens that started out as a plain Jane option – have become an essential part of the room.

The first kitchen island was designed as a food prep zone. Today, they’re the focal point of the room that many consider the heart of the home.

“Kitchen islands have been a mainstay in kitchens for decades, but they’ve really changed over the last few years, from being just plain rectangular structures to actually being almost a kitchen in themselves,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says.

Randy Sorrell of Surroundings, a remodeling company, says since the Great Recession ended, kitchens have taken on new meaning, appearance and functionality.

“Whenever you have a dinner party, whenever it’s Christmas or any holiday, you may start outside or you may start in the living room, but you end up in the kitchen,” he says. “And now, predominantly, you’re hanging around the island.”

The size and features of islands today are limited only by the size of the room. And some people are tearing out walls to create more room for larger islands.

“Really dream big about what you might want to do with that island, and talk to your contractor, because you could have a stove, you could have a sink, you could have all kinds of things as a part of that island,” Angie says.

Elaborate kitchen islands are one of the main reasons dining rooms are disappearing from modern homes.

“If you have the space in your kitchen, you put in an island. If there’s space and opportunity for chairs around the island, oh man, that’s a home run. And so that seems to be a huge objective,” Sorrell says.

Angie says big-box stores sell kitchen islands for as little as $120, but a custom island that includes a sink, ventilation and cooking appliances can top $6,000. As with any remodel, ask your contractor what they can do on your budget. 

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