Kitchen island design tips
A kitchen island adds valuable work, storage, and serving space. From the extra counter space to a sink, cooktop, or cabinets, even a small kitchen benefits from an island. When designed right, you can maximize the look and function.
To get you started here are some kitchen island design tips.
Measure your space. The primary purpose of a kitchen island is to enhance the workflow and space in this essential area. Squeezing in an island that doesn’t allow for comfortable workflow will cause a lot of frustration—and traffic jams. Measure the kitchen. Allow three feet of clearance between the island and your other countertops and appliances. Remember, you need to be able to open the island’s various doors (cabinet, oven, dishwasher).
Think proportionally. The size of your kitchen island should be in proportion to the rest of the room. A small island will be dwarfed inside a spacious kitchen, but going too large makes your kitchen inefficient and cramped. While you need about three feet of clearance around your island, having too much of this space will require more walking than you might like. You should also be able to reach across your island. If it’s so wide that you have to walk around it, you compromise the efficiency.
Determine the function. Some people want a kitchen island for additional workspace, while others are looking for a storage or eating area. What functions do you want your island to give you? A prep station should have a pull-out trash can or trash compacter. If you plan to incorporate a sink, dishwasher, cooktop, or oven, you need to have enough room, plus, you’ll need to do the additional plumbing and wiring required (if you want to plug in any small appliances, you’ll need electrical outlets). Maybe you have the space to extend the counter and want to create an eating area. Add 14 to 18 inches to the width of the countertop, and be sure the height will accommodate chairs or stools, which come in standard 36- and 42-inch heights.
Map out your storage needs. Do you need deep cabinets or drawers to store pots, pans, and small appliances? Would you like to keep your cookbooks handy on your island? Think about the items you want to stash in your island’s storage space so that you have the right dimensions for easy access.
Determine the lighting. Since the island is a kitchen workspace, plan on installing a light fixture above it. Pendant lights look great and offer a broad variety of styles and choices. Be sure to use a dimmer switch to get the right mood—brighter for working, softer for serving.
Kitchen islands are often customized from standard kitchen cabinets. You can add the countertop and cabinet doors you want, and accents like ball feet or specialty trim to create the look of fine furniture. For a smaller kitchen, you might discover a flea market find (like a desk, console, table) can be upcycled to suit your needs.