Kitchen Island Tips

I have to tell you, one of my biggest pet peeves when we go into a kitchen for a remodel or even to visit a friend or to look at new homes is the layout of the island!  I can’t tell you how many times a builder has put an island in a kitchen that should NEVER have an island in the first place and when you try to discuss with the homeowner about removing the island…they say…but what would I do without it?  I’d lose all my counter space!  Well…without that island…there’d be more room in the kitchen…you wouldn’t be running around it all the time…I could go on and on, but you get my point.  However, if you’re looking at new homes, designing a new home, or remodeling, hopefully these tips will help you so you don’t end up making some major mistakes!

1.  Make sure the aisles are big enough!

Like I’ve said…all too often, islands are squeezed in to a tight kitchen or built to small for a large space – we see the first more than the latter!  Keep these rules in mind…a minimum of 36″ in between any cabinetry, 42″ is ideal for one cook and 48″ is optimal for more than one cook.  Now I know you’re thinking I’m outta my mind!  But think about this as your family is running around in the morning and opening the frig, as it hits the island and you’ve got to wait to go by, and your kid is on the other side waiting to run by with the bagel hanging out of his mouth!  See how that extra space would really help?!

However, too much space can be a problem as well.  You don’t want to be walking 5 to 6 feet inbetween the counter and the island.

2.  Islands come in all shapes and sizes now

It used to be that islands were rectangles or squares…but nowadays…use your island to make a design statement!  Use your island as your focal point…it is most of the time literally the center of your kitchen, so make it your show piece!  Use different materials on the counters and cabinets…jazz it up!  Be creative!

3.  Use your island for seating

Nowadays everyone wants to be in the kitchen…isn’t that what you find?  So make sure you make a place for them to sit around your island.  Knee clearance is important so you’ll want at least 18″ for a 30″ high island, 15″ for a 36″ high island, 12″ for a 42″ high island and 24″ inbetween stools.

4.  Layout

How are you going to use that island?  For an extra sink and faucet?  Cooktop?  What’s the motivation for having that island?  When adding these items, don’t forget about their relationship to the rest of the kitchen…the sink and faucet to the dishwasher.  Maybe you add a dishwasher drawer in the island for easy clean up for a pair of extra hands?!  An extra refrigerator drawer so the kids can get drinks out so they’re not coming into the main prep area.  The functions for an island are limitless with good planning and ENOUGH space!

And don’t forget to put in outlets…in many areas this is required by code now, but if it isn’t in your area, don’t forget to add them.  The can be built into the cabinetry on the side, pop-up outlets built into the counter or into the backsplash if you’re having a raised bar with your island.  Regardless…one can never have too many outlets as far as I’m concerned!


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