Kitchens are increasingly becoming the entertainment hub of the home, and entertaining has become more casual. Instead of formal dining rooms, these days people are turning to kitchen islands for a place to seat their guests. In fact, full sized, custom kitchen islands – complete with a built in range – are one of the most desirable additions to a kitchen with an open floor plan. But it can be difficult to properly vent a full sized range in the middle of your kitchen, and hugely expensive to try to incorporate new ducts to keep your kitchen air clean. If you really want a centralized island range, but don’t want your guests breathing hot, smoky, greasy air, you need to invest in ventless island range hoods. These simple devices filter and recirculate air rather than pumping it out of your house like traditional range hoods, which means no construction, and even some pretty cool designs.
This simple Platinum Series ventless range hood from Elica is a great example. It’s equal parts ventilation and lighting, with a two stage filtration process that includes a washable mesh filter and long-life charcoal filter, as well as two halogen lights for soft, over-all lighting. Unlike a traditional range hood, it won’t wick heat away from your range top, but it will keep your air smelling fresh (and your walls grease-free) without a complex ventilation system. Plus, it has the appearance of a sleek, modern lighting fixture, which allows you to have the style of a kitchen island light and the function of a range hood in a single unit.
Your average range hood isn’t a whole lot to look at. They’re often boxy, with broad faces of unadorned stainless steel – basically an extension of your ducts with a filter and a fan inside. But because island range hoods don’t even have to connect to your ceiling (let alone be incorporated into a metal duct), there’s a whole lot more room for stylistic creativity. I can’t even tell you how much I like this Star Range Hood. Made of glass but sparkling like crystal, this is absolutely the perfect solution to needing a range hood but wanting a chandelier to provide all-over kitchen lighting. It, too, has a combination aluminum/charcoal filtration system, but has more built in lights than the Platinum series range hood, and even has an optional remote controlled dimmer function – an excellent combination of style and function.
Many ductless island range hoods are made with a similar bucket style design, roundish with a wider base that tapers towards the top. This is partly practical – a conical shape helps aid in air filtration by catching the hot (smoky, greasy) air as it rises up from your cooktop and filtering it down into the filters. But it’s also a cool stylistic choice, eliminating the boxy edges of traditional range hoods and giving you something that looks more like a modern take on a bucket light. This Wave Range Hood offers a nice twist on the style, with an elegantly curved bottom and repeating “wave” patterned halogen lights in addition to three ambient incandescent lights.
This Grace Range Hood is actually designed to look more like a lampshade than anything, with soft incandescent lighting that illuminates it warmly from within. A far cry from Elica’s other futuristic range hoods and hyper-modern stainless steel island range hoods, this is a more intimate interpretation – something with a little more library/lounge and a lot less industrial. So if you’re looking for something a little more cozy cottage inspired, this is probably a lot more up your alley. The modern kitchen it’s pictured in above might be a little misleading – when this baby lights up, it’s nothing if not warm and cozy.
The really nice thing about these well-designed bucket-style island range hoods, though, is that they’re easier (not to mention more stylish) to double up than your traditional range hood. Because they’re, in all honesty, as much light fixtures as they are range hoods, it makes sense to have multiple similar or identical island range hoods throughout your kitchen – say, if you have two ranges, or one very long or double-sized island range. So installing two of these Ola Range Hoods coordinates just as easily as two matching pendant lights, or two chandeliers from the same collection. As a side note, I really like the modern vibe of this collection – it comes with a variety of color options (stainless steel and blue or red, or pearly white and violet or grass green) that have a nice chromotherapy effect, and add a nice pop of color to your kitchen.
If you don’t like the look of doubling up on your island range hoods, you can find some larger ones, too, like this Evolution Plus. These are nice even if you don’t have an especially wide range, simply because the larger hood provides better coverage, and is better at catching all the hot air coming up off your stove. After all, anything that doesn’t make it into the hood in the first place certainly isn’t going to get filtered out.
All that said, if you’re going to be doing some really serious cooking – say, using a culinary grade gas stove or searing meat at very high heats, you probably want something a little more heavy duty. This Centrifugal Range Hood from Vent-A-Hood might not be quite as nice to look at as some of the other ventless range hoods shown here, but it’s renowned in the industry for its effectiveness. There’s more than one thing that makes for a Vent-A-Hood advantage, but to put it briefly: their ductless range hoods have more filters, more types of filters, bigger filters, and a self-cleaning blower that allows them to stand up to really tough smoke and grease where other models might falter, and can even help with humidity, which most ductless island range hoods can’t handle.
What are you looking for in your new island range hoods? Are you more concerned about appearance or functionality in a range hood? Is putting in ducts cost prohibitive, outright impossible, or just not a priority?