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Do You—Or Do You NOT—Need A Kitchen Island?

Do You—Or Do You NOT—Need A Kitchen Island?

I have to say, one of my BIGGEST pet peeves when we start a kitchen 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 had an island in the first place!

And when you try to talk to the homeowner about removing the island…they say, “But what would I do without it? I’d lose all my counter space!”


“Do I need a kitchen island?”

To that I say, without that island:

  • There’d be more room in the kitchen
  • You wouldn’t be running around it all the time
  • If guests hover around it, you’ll never be able to cook
  • You wouldn’t use it as a dumping ground for bills and junk mail
  • Without ideal lighting and several outlets, it won’t be practical for cooking

I could go on and on, but you get my point. The kitchen island is a symbol of luxury in many homes. But if it’s not the right island for the space (or the space isn’t built for an island), it’s not the best way to add livable luxury to your space.

If you are 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.


Tips to select the right kitchen island

How big do my aisles have to be?

All too often, islands are squeezed in to a tight kitchen or built too small for a large space—we see the first case most of all!

Keep these rules in mind…

  • You need a minimum of 36″ in between any cabinetry
  • A distance of 42″ is ideal for one cook
  • And 48″ is optimal for more than one cook (or hovering guests)

Now, I know you’re thinking I’m outta my mind! But as your family is running around in the morning and opening the fridge, 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…you’ll thank me!

See how that extra space would really help?!

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

Expert tip: Remember, the island doesn’t have to be smack in the middle of a kitchen.


Islands come in all shapes and sizes, especially now

It used to be that islands were rectangles or squares, and that was the extent of your options! But nowadays, you can use your island to make a design statement! Your island is often the focal point of the kitchen…it’s—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!


Use your island for seating

Nowadays, everyone wants to be in the kitchen…guests, kids, spouses. So make sure you make a place for them to sit around your island, both for their comfort and to keep them out of the way.

Knee clearance is important, so you’ll want at least 18″ seats for a 30″ high island, 15″ for a 36″ high island, 12″ for a 42″ high island and a space of around 24″ in between stools.


Island layout tips from Robin

Now, the real question is, how are you going to use that island? For an extra sink and faucet? Cooktop? What’s the motivation for having that island?

  1. When selecting add-on items, don’t forget about their relationship to the rest of the kitchen…specifically, the sink and faucet and the dishwasher.
  2. Maybe you add a dishwasher drawer in the island for easy clean-up for a pair of extra hands?!
  3. How about an extra refrigerator drawer so the kids can get drinks out so they’re not coming into the main prep area, or a two-tier island where the kids can do their homework while you prep dinner?
  4. And if you do use the counter of the island as an essential cooking space, ensure you have the storage underneath to keep that surface clear!
  5. And don’t forget to put in outlets…in many communities this is required by building code now, but if it isn’t in your area, don’t forget to add them. Outlets can be built into the cabinetry on the side, you can add pop-up outlets built into the counter or even into the backsplash if you’re adding a raised bar with your island. Regardless…one can never have too many outlets (as far as I’m concerned)!

The functions for an island are limitless with good planning and ENOUGH SPACE!

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, well…the island is the center of the kitchen! It’s functionally important and a sign of luxury, but don’t assume you need an island or skip the design consultation to pick the right one. Start a conversation with us today!

To read more, check this article out.

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