The popularity of open-floor kitchen plans and the shifting design of the kitchen has necessitated an expansion of the kitchen island, often the site of a sink or cooktop and frequently a storage area. Brad Walker, principal of Ruhl Walker Architects in South Boston, Mass., says: “Kitchens used to be distinct rooms with four walls lined with cabinetry, appliances, and countertops. Now kitchens are at one end or a corner of a larger room, so there’s only one wall to hold the same amount of stuff.” And it is the island, he asserts, that has assumed much of the storage burden. With possibly a tall pantry as the kitchen’s sole wall cabinet, dishes and cookware are now being kept in the island. Stylish Italian islands such as those featured at Showroom in Boston’s Back Bay have drawers that are extra-deep, built with durable glides, and can be outfitted with racks to hold dishes. A plus: These drawers are easily accessible to children who can be called on to help set the table or get their own snacks. Islands increasingly feature a more simplified, aesthetic shape, too. More and more designers and homeowners are selecting cube-like islands that feature wraparound storage, in lieu of multilevel and irregularly shaped island. The most conspicuous benefit of a big island is the expanse of counter space it offers. Today’s kitchen is now as much a social area as it is a workspace, so the island needs to accommodate grocery bags, cutting boards, and dinner plates, and still leave room for hanging out. | Read More