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Creating the Perfect Kitchen Island

Your kitchen island design is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in creating your dream kitchen. Not only a popular focal point for kitchens, the kitchen island often serves as the gathering place for dining or chatting with the cook while they prepare meals. Some islands also serve as storage space or the home of kitchen appliances like a cooktop, a bar sink or the microwave. Kitchen islands are extremely versatile and can function in just about any way the homeowner wishes--as long as there’s plenty of space. Space, size, functionality and kitchen layout are just a few factors that contribute to the design of the kitchen island.


Before you start designing your island you must first figure out if your kitchen has enough space or the proper layout for a kitchen island. The good news is, kitchen islands are not one size fits all and come in sizes as small as 40 x 40 inches which means you’ve got a good chance of fitting an island into your space. When it comes to space, it’s not necessarily the size of the kitchen that matters but rather the clearance space you’ll have around the island.

Ideally, you’ll have a clearance zone of at least 3 feet and no more than 4 feet surrounding the island. The minimal amount of clearance you need is 31.5 inches. Anything less will make the kitchen feel cramped and hard to navigate while a clearance zone spanning more than 4 feet becomes too much space and makes use of the kitchen and the island less accessible.


Size and space go hand in hand, although you’ll need to know the size of your space before you can design the size of the island. The average size of a kitchen island is 3 ft x 6.5 ft with a surround clearance of 40 inches. You can go much smaller or larger depending on the size of the kitchen and the functionality of the island.


Much like size depends on space, the functionality of your kitchen island depends on its size. The smallest kitchen islands can’t offer much more than a prep space and perhaps a small bit of storage under the countertop while large islands can host multiple functions including prepping, cooking, cleaning and dining. Kitchen islands can even serve as a host for extra cabinetry and storage space designed your way. You might have a large island that boasts a small bookshelf and dining area on one side and a cooktop and cutting board station on the other side.


Your kitchen’s layout is very important in determining if and how large of a kitchen island can fit into the room. The best kitchen layout for a kitchen island is the galley layout. It’s also a chef’s favorite because of the ease of access between zones.

Of course, if your layout simply doesn’t work for a traditional kitchen island you could go the dramatic route and have the entire layout reconfigured or you can consider other options like an island cart, trolley or perhaps a peninsula. Peninsulas are sort of like islands, only they’re attached to one side of the kitchen. They don’t require the amount of clearance space islands need and they’re a great way to add to your kitchen’s current layout instead of changing it entirely.

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