This super chic new kitchen trend could be the answer to finding room for an island, even if you’re short on space

an open plan apartment with a triangular brass kitchen island

Realistically, not every kitchen has a floor plan big enough for an island — and for most spaces, that’s not the end of the world. If you have a small kitchen, it’s often easy to make your layout work without worrying about having an island as the centerpiece of your room. The problem comes when you have a kitchen that’s almost big enough for an island, but not quite. These are the spaces that can make your layout feel like something is missing, both in the way your kitchen looks and in its practical use.

Recently, I noticed a trend in the kitchen that seems like the perfect solution to this problem, creating a way to add a kitchen island on a smaller scale, without it feeling small or undersized. I call it the “chopped” kitchen island – and it might just be the solution to your little space problems.

What is a “cut” island?

If you think of the standard kitchen island as a large rectangle, a “chopped” island is a design where you remove one of the corners, creating a sloping edge. This reduces the overall footprint of the island, but still retains its sense of proportion for the longest edge of the island.

So why is it important? For a small kitchen, simply downsizing your rectangular island can make it particularly undersized and tiny – hardly the centerpiece you’re looking for in a kitchen island. The corner island, meanwhile, reorganizes this footprint for a more dynamic use of space. It also works especially well for rooms with awkward, angled walls.

This modern apartment in Poland

a modern kitchen with a triangular brass kitchen island

a modern kitchen with a triangular brass kitchen island

A chopped island was the solution for this luxury apartment, designed by Studio Akurat. “We were faced with a difficult space, very irregular in shape and strongly limited by construction walls,” Maciej Ryniewicz, creative director and founder of Studio Akurat, tells me. “As architects, we felt a strong need to organize it while keeping in mind that the owners want to have a comfortable living room, a dining room and a functional kitchen space in this piece.”

The triangular kitchen island creates a walkway that creates flow for the space and a natural separation between the kitchen and the living room. “By simply offsetting the directions defined by the walls and juxtaposing the result with the main axis of the apartment, we defined a form that felt in harmony with its surroundings, no matter which direction you approached the piece of furniture,” adds Maciej.

Would a standard rectangular island have worked in space? “Given the modest footprint, the location of the drains and fixtures, the location of the entrance to this space, and the functional requirements, I’m sure it wouldn’t work,” Maciej says. “We tried different solutions and felt strongly that a rectangular centerpiece would work as an obstacle and feel totally out of place in this particular case. I feel like our solution works like a backbone for the whole space, giving a sense of order and tranquility.

This angular kitchen in a luxury home

a kitchen with a half island

a kitchen with a half island

Design studio Atelier Cho Thompson also came up with an unusual angular space for this home’s modern kitchen and introduced a leaning island as the centerpiece of this kitchen to make it a place where their clients like to hang out.

“The shape of the island results from the fact that we open the walls and combine two or three spaces at the corner of the house,” explains Christina Cho Yoo, co-founder and director of Atelier Cho Thompson. “Islands help anchor a kitchen and become a center of social activity where people can sit and relax while others cook. Rather than keeping that space open, the Tilted Island was our solution to that interstitial space, and of course it’s a very actively used space today.

For Christina, this angular island is a response to the kitchen environment. “A leaning island doesn’t work everywhere, but given the unusual shape of our kitchen, it organizes the space and provides a contact location when walking through different sides of the kitchen. Each side of the leaning island is parallel to a wall in this kitchen,” says Christina.

“We wanted a spatial element that helped regulate the flow in the kitchen. Without this angular island, the client can feel a little aimless as they move from side to side,” adds Christina. ‘This particular island mediates space and provides a landing zone for various space activities that take place in the interspace such as hanging out and observing, washing hands or fruit, preparing hors d’oeuvres for a party or preparing food.’

This big open house in Melbourne

a modern kitchen with an island with a corner taken off

a modern kitchen with an island with a corner taken off

However, the “chopped” island isn’t just for small kitchens. It’s a design detail you’ll see applied to large kitchen islands too – albeit in a slightly different way. We see kitchen islands with “chopped” corners, which helps these designs feel less monolithic.

This example, designed by Studio Doherty for a Melbourne home, is the perfect example of how it can work. “The motivation behind the chamfered corner was more of a design-driven decision,” says founder Mardi Doherty. “Nevertheless, we thought about how people sat and interacted around the island bench, which partly informed the approach to the island.”

The chopped nook is on the side which opens into the open plan living area. This helps the island attract guests – this choppy nook is the perfect place to lean over and talk to someone using the kitchen prep area.

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