Island vs. Kitchen Table: In Philly, There’s an Unlikely Winner


Go, right now, and look at just about any high-end condo listing on this site. Check out Rittenhouse Square penthouses, remodeled Victorians in Wash Square West, or hipster-chic walkups in NoLibs. The hottest properties will all have (at least) one thing in common: a spacious kitchen island with either a deep, large sink or an inset range, with trendy barstools cozied up to the side just begging for friends to sit down and share a cocktail or for your kids to do their homework after school. Long has the island reigned as the most-coveted aspirational fixture in a kitchen/dining reno, but there are those who say that this trend is becoming passe.

Michelle Brunner of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently penned a highly combustible piece announcing that kitchen tables were making a comeback in Philly – and throughout the design world. While admitting that islands remain ubiquitously trendy – some 38 percent of all remodels include an island, and that doesn’t factor in the homes that already have one – a shift in the preferred “feel” of dining space has some forward-thinking designers embracing the good, old four-legged table.

Brunner’s arguments against islands? They are large, and are only getting larger, making them more of a design eyesore than an attraction. Due to their capacious cabinets and all manner of built-ins, like trash cans and recycling bins, they are often stuffed full of… stuff and do the homeowner(s) no favors when it comes to organization. Also, as a place for dining, they lack the warmth and intimacy of the family table, long held to be the center of the home. For those wanting to add prep space to an existing kitchen, Brunner suggests a narrow table, the wooden kind of which can even be found at IKEA. As for your table, you can choose any shape, size, or material you’d like, but make it comfortable, as that is another commodity lacking in islands. The ability to commune, to face one another, to easily get up or down – these are all benefits of the good, old-fashioned table.

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