(123)456 7890 [email protected]

Is an island right for your kitchen?

One of the most frequent questions I receive as a designer is – Can I put an island in my kitchen?

Gone are the days when kitchens were the epicenter of the kitchen and here to stay, at least for a long time, the modern version of the kitchen that has become not only a space for cooking, but also a center of social gatherings and entertainment. To balance all the functions that a kitchen now has, the designers turned to the kitchen island, making it the new kitchen workhorse.

Islands are multifunctional, offering homeowners additional work areas, storage space, and entertainment/social space. More recently, the kitchen island has even become the main piece of furniture for dining. With so many features, it’s no wonder the kitchen island has become such a popular design element in the home.

But is an island right for your kitchen and more, do you have room for it?

Let’s start by looking at the different island configurations and the space requirements for each.

The Work Island: Cooks respond to function and purpose with the added bonus of more easy-access storage for everyday items or deep storage for once-in-a-blue-moon appliances.

The function of work islands is to provide the homeowner with more usable space for preparation and the daily tasks that take place in a kitchen. For bakers, the work island is often built with a marble or quartz surface to facilitate dough preparation. For novice chefs and cooks, the work island offers plenty of square footage to create multiple dishes at once with the convenience of having tasks performed in one central location.

The work island is most effective if NKBA clearances for hallways are followed; however, these are guidelines only and are not part of any IRC code.

When planning your work island, you must first establish whether your kitchen is a one cook or a two cook kitchen. In other words, how many people will be cooking at the same time? For most people, even if there are multiple cooks, they tend to follow the guidelines for a one person kitchen. That guideline requires a minimum of 42″ for work aisles and 36″ for walkways.

In a two-cook kitchen, the work aisles are increased to 48″ while the walkway remains at 36″.

Another island that remains extremely popular is the island designed as the social center of the kitchen. On this island, designers incorporate bar stools for additional seating and social gatherings. Designed correctly, this island will quickly become the place to hang out, do homework, socialize, and catch up. Although it still functions as a work island and offers storage, its main purpose is to bring people together.

For this island, the free spaces of the work corridor remain the same; however, hallways should be thought of once stools or seating are incorporated into the design.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends a 44″ clearance for the aisle where there are stools. However, a 36″ clearance is allowed, but only leaves one clearance for you to pass a person.

If stools are not in an aisle, 32″ clearance is acceptable.

Another island design that is becoming increasingly popular is the island designed to function as both a work space and a kitchen table for the home. This design idea works well in smaller spaces where both the island and the kitchen table are difficult to accommodate. In this design, the designer must pay close attention to add enough seats to meet the needs of the users and their family size.

All of the NKBA guidelines discussed above apply to this island, but it’s important to put more thought into the seating to ensure the island functions properly and allows the homeowner to use the space as intended.

For tabletop islands, it is important to consider the following seating criteria. For a 36″ high counter, allow 24″ wide x 15″ deep per seated person.

If you plan to raise a section of your island counter, all guidelines remain the same, with the exception of the depth of space needed, which is reduced to 12″.

Designing an island that fits your space will take some planning and following guidelines. But with the right layout and spaces, a kitchen island can become one of the most used spaces in the home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *