Help! I live in a small house and I'm thinking about replacing my kitchen table and chairs with an island. Would this be a good or a bad idea? It's the only eating area we have in our small house.
I can't tell really because I can't see the space or the size of the table in question. So I'm going to answer this from the gut. My gut answer is no; don't do it.
Let me preface all of this by saying that all rooms and all clients are different. Some people get a lot of use out of an island and some rooms can accommodate one with little difficulty. However, you told me two things that are offering a clue. First, your house is small. Islands tend to work better in large rooms. Second, you tell me that your current table is your only eating area. So putting in an island means that you're sentencing yourself to a lifetime of eating at a counter.
I talk about this topic a lot. I suppose I'm some kind of a kitchen table advocate. I write for Houzz.com and I devoted a whole IdeaBook to kitchen tables a couple of weeks ago. Here it is:
Forgoing eating at a table and instead eating at a counter does a couple of things that I think are important. More important than any storage gains you might get out of an island.
The most important thing that happens at a kitchen table is that you eat across from someone, not side by side like you would at an island bar. When you eat across from someone, your dinner mate is the focus of your attention. Human beings don't just communicate verbally. We communicate non-verbally just as much and in order to pick up the visual cues someone else is sending, you need to be able to see his or her face. This visual communication happens a lot more easily at a table then it does at a counter.
In addition to the communication thing, when you're eating at a table you're having dinner in a place set aside specifically for eating. But more than that, it's a space set aside for eating with other people. It's a lot easier to make meals matter when they happen in a space set aside for them specifically. Island counters are by definition multi-purpose surfaces. Eating at one isn't an event, no matter how mundane.
But at a table, it's easier to turn off the electronics and focus on what's important --your loved ones.
When the only eating area you have is a counter, it becomes to easy to have shared meals fall by the wayside. It makes the "we're too busy nowadays" lie easy to internalize and make true in your own life. The fact of the matter isn't at all that "we're too busy." Instead, what "we" have is an inability to prioritize. If you make shared meals a priority you will have them. An important statement that you're making them a priority is to keep your kitchen table.
So, you asked and I answered. While it's true that installing an island doesn't doom you to divorce and delinquent kids, keeping your table will make shared meals a more common occurrence in your home.