Kitchen islands don’t just complete your kitchen design; they are incredibly functional. A kitchen island supplies extra workspace and storage; they can incorporate additional appliances, such as microwaves and sinks, and even miniature refrigerators. Kitchen islands have become the kitchen feature we all lust after, but is a kitchen island right for your kitchen?
To help you decide, here are our kitchen island guidelines and design tips.
What is the best size for a kitchen island?
The best size for a kitchen island depends entirely on how much space there is in your kitchen, and you need to consider not just the size of the kitchen island itself but also how much space you need surrounding the island to comfortably move around your kitchen.
The minimum size for a kitchen island is four feet by two feet, so it’s big enough to be functional. However, the average size for a kitchen island is six feet by three feet, so it’s a good idea to go bigger if you have the space.
What is considered a large kitchen island?
Anything over 6 feet by 3 feet is above average.
How much space do you need between an island and a counter?
You should have a minimum of 40 inches (around one meter) of space between a kitchen island and countertop to ensure that you have adequate open space to move around your kitchen easily.
This is also enough space for a person to stand at the island or the main countertop and allow someone else to walk behind them without any trouble. It also allows all drawers, cabinets, and appliances to be accessed and opened without restriction.
You may be able to get away with a gap of only 35 inches if you are looking to add a kitchen island to a smaller space, but be sure that you are happy to have limited maneuvering space before making this decision.
Conversely, if you have a large kitchen, you want to make sure that the kitchen island's size is proportionate to the size of the kitchen. Having too much space between the island and the counter (60 inches or more) may make the island feel like it is an entirely separate entity, disrupting the flow of the kitchen. You want space that is wide enough for two people to get past each other but not so wide that you have to literally walk from your kitchen counter to your island to utilize both workspaces at the same time.
Should a kitchen island be the same height as a counter?
The standard height for a kitchen island is 36 inches, the same as a counter. This is the ideal height if you want to use your island primarily for prep and cooking.
If you are looking to create a dining space, you may want a taller island or a section of your island which is around 42 inches tall. This is the perfect height for a breakfast bar and entertaining friends and family, as well as preventing any back pain if you are a tall, keen home cook.
If you opt for the bar height, just make sure that the bar stools you choose allow for at least two feet of clearance to be pulled out so that they are easily accessible and comfortable to sit on.
Is my kitchen big enough for an island?
If you have a kitchen that is less than 13 feet in width, unfortunately, it is very unlikely that your kitchen will be able to comfortably fit a built-in kitchen island. However, you may find that a small, mobile kitchen island will fit and give you a little extra counter and storage space.
6 Design Ideas for Your Kitchen Island
1. Decide on the purpose of your island
If the main purpose of your kitchen island is for cooking, you will want to include a stovetop, as well as drawers for cooking utensils, cabinets for pots and pans and/or dried goods, and maybe even a pull-out spice rack for easy access to everything you need to create delicious meals at home.
If you want your island to simply create an additional food prep area, you should think about opting for a kitchen island with a larger amount of counter space with a sink for washing ingredients as well as dishes, and perhaps even a mini-refrigerator to store all of your fresh ingredients.
If the purpose of your kitchen island is for additional seating and dining space, you might want to think about using the storage for your dishware, glassware, and serving implements, and even adding a wine rack or fridge to the unused side, which will add that touch of luxury to your kitchen.
2. Measure everything and do dry fits
To work out exactly how big your kitchen island should be, it is a good idea to measure the space and use cardboard boxes to make a mock-up of the potential kitchen island to see if it works in your kitchen. This will give you a more visual representation of how much space will be available after installing a kitchen island since an island is a large presence, and it’s easy to underestimate how big it will feel.
3. Match your island to the theme of your kitchen
It probably goes without saying, but you should always aim to match your kitchen island to your existing kitchen's theme or style. If you have a sleek, modern kitchen, you don’t want a farmhouse style kitchen island and vice versa. In some rooms, mismatched furniture can work, but this is very difficult to pull off in a kitchen. Remember that your island is as permanent as your cabinets!
4. Don’t forget about storage
When designing your kitchen island, you must not forget about storage. An island without storage leaves you with less usable space and makes it more of a design feature and less of a practical addition to your kitchen.
Think about adding functional features such as pull-out shelves, spice racks, wine racks, and cookbook shelves to maximize your kitchen island's practicality.
Bear in mind that, although functional, using your kitchen island for large appliances, such as a dishwasher or refrigerator, will mean that there will be less storage space available.
5. Keep the standard sizes in mind
Keep the standard sizes in mind when choosing your kitchen island’s height. 36 inches or 42 inches is best to ensure that it is functional as a workspace or dining space but doesn’t look out of place.
You should also avoid making your kitchen island as large as possible just because you have space to do so. If your island is particularly large, you may not be able to reach the middle to clean the countertop (without climbing on it), and there is likely to be space that is never utilized, and therefore unnecessary. If you have a particularly large kitchen, you may want to think about installing two smaller islands. This way, you can have a different purpose for each and ensure that they are being used to their full potential.
6. Consider how often you will use your island and size accordingly
If you want to add a cooktop or sink to your kitchen island, or if you plan on using it daily in conjunction with your fitted kitchen, you are more likely to want a larger island so that you have plenty of space to prepare food, cook, dine, and do the dishes.
If you have all the appliances you need within your existing kitchen, and you simply want some extra countertop and storage space, you could think about having a smaller kitchen island that provides this and allows for more open space within your kitchen.
Installing a kitchen island can add a lot to your kitchen, not just in terms of practical storage and workspace but also as a design feature. A kitchen island can be the heart of your kitchen, providing a space where you can prepare good food for your family, entertain friends, or just spend time with the people you love.
If you’re still in the design phase of your kitchen remodel or renovation, we’re here to help. We’re passionate about helping our customers achieve their dream kitchen, whether that includes an island or not! We can generate hundreds of potential layouts and help you personalize your favorite to fit you perfectly. Click here to start your free renovation estimate today.