Welcome to Fantasy Island – Drummoyne Ray White agent Chris Wilkins says Busy Families Get busy in the kitchen

The kitchen island—it’s where everybody wants to be.

Designers are equipping islands with under-the-counter appliances, electronic controls and stylish design, turning what had been a humble seating annex into a command-and-control center for the home.

People are demanding more seating, more electrical outlets and more custom storage, so islands can function as entertaining hubs, homework centers and charging stations. Foodies want gear like a flip-down cutting board or a manual lift to bring heavy mixers and blenders up to waist level. Families want a flatscreen TV mounted to a wall, to swivel in and out of view. Some companies are locating the control panel for window-shade and lighting systems in the island.

“The island has become the most sought-after element in every kitchen,” says John Starck, Jr., president of Showcase Kitchens, based in Manhasset, N.Y. “People are moving walls, taking space from garages—just to get an island in.”

Once-concealed preliminaries to a formal dinner, food prep and cooking are now the main event. It’s part of the fun for guests to mingle around the hostess-chef and help out. In this context, the island becomes “a stage where you perform cooking in front of your friends,” says Elizabeth C. Cromley, author of “The Food Axis: Cooking, Eating and the Architecture of American Houses.”

Comments by Anne Marie Chaker at the Wall Street Journal