Designing a Kitchen Island

Designing a Kitchen Island


Designing a Kitchen Island

What do I need to think about?

One of the most complicated spaces in your home is the kitchen.  And when you decide to add a kitchen island to the mix?  Well, it’s not surprising that homeowners get confused.  Even though there is not a set formula for figuring out how to decide on an island size, there are some basic measurement guidelines that can help.  Here are some basic questions to ask yourself when planning your new kitchen island.


What will the function of your island be?

Before thinking about storage solutions and countertop material, you first need to decide on what the main function of your island is going to be.  Most islands have one side that is dedicated to cooking and another side dedicated to eating.  If you want appliances and a sink in your island, then you will need more space.  But, if you want to use the island for casual meals, then seating should be your priority.  What will your emphasis be?

  •         Prep Work
  •         Cooking
  •         Cleaning
  •         Eating
  •         Entertaining


What appliances are you going to need in your kitchen island?

If you decide that you want to include appliances into your kitchen island, then you will need to plan for function as well as for spacing.  If you decide to include the main sink of your kitchen in your island, then you will need to place a dishwasher to the right or left of your sink.  If, on the other hand, you are using your island for the main prep area of your kitchen, then you’ll need to include trash, recycling and compost areas nearby as well.  Make a list of everything that you want in your kitchen island and prioritize the order.  Realistically, you probably won’t be able to include everything you want in your island, but you try to include the top five features in your island.


How much storage will you need in your kitchen island?

The storage space you include in your island will depend on the layout of your kitchen.  If you already have a lot of cabinet space, then island storage will not be a priority.  If the island is going to be your main prepping area, then the sink and other appliances will be the first items you want to include.  But, try to include some storage for prepping utensils and a cutting board near the sink.

As a rule of thumb, including two 24” base cabinets back to back should accommodate most of your under-island storage needs.  Also, making your island three feet wide tends to look the best, although sometimes two feet is the best fit.  Length wise, four feet is the most common, but seven feet long will accommodate a sink and dishwasher easier.


How high should the counter be?

The first thing you have to do is determine your seating height.  Do you want bar stools at your island?  Then you have to decide whether 36” or 42” is your best option.  Remember that a 42” bar stool and bar tend to give you the most flexibility.  Also, your island CAN be designed using two different levels.  A lower level for the prep side and a higher level for the dining side of the island.


How is your island going to fit into your kitchen layout?

One thing to keep in mind when designing your kitchen island is to make sure that the working side of your island can function cohesively with the opposite kitchen counter.  Will the island make sense with the rest of your kitchen?  Can it complete the work triangle between your sink, range and refrigerator?

Also consider the open floor area around your island.  Three feet of floor space on the ends of the island tends to be ideal.  The working side of the island should have 42” of minimum space, but more than five feet isn’t necessary.  The floor space on the entertaining and eating side of the island will be determined by the living space (dining room or living room) that is adjacent to this space.


Do you need a designer for your kitchen island?

This all depends…  A kitchen island is often the primary gathering point and work spot in the kitchen.  Therefore, a lot of thought must go into the design of your island.   Not everyone has a good sense of proportion.  That is where a good designer or architect can come to the rescue and help design the kitchen island of your dreams.