No matter where you look for inspiration for your new kitchen – magazines, Houzz, home makeover shows – kitchen islands are everywhere.  Kitchen islands have become an icon for modern kitchens.  They add convenience and enhance the overall look of a kitchen. They add versatility and serve a variety of purposes depending on your needs.

But there is a misconception that every kitchen should have an island.  This just isn’t the case.  Islands don’t necessarily work for every kitchen. Sometimes space is limited and an island can be cumbersome and impede efficiency.  Planning for a kitchen island involves significant consideration. Here, we try to present key design considerations you need to keep in mind before working with a designer on your new kitchen island.

What Will It Be Used For?

Islands can take up a lot of space in your kitchen.  They should earn that space. Islands should serve multiple purposes.  In general, islands provide extra storage space, afford you extra space for prep work and cooking, and can house appliances, cooktops, and sinks.  They can provide extra seating and, in an open floor plan, create a boundary between your kitchen and living space.

The dimensions of your island will depend on how it’s being used.  Take time to consider the overall purpose of your island and how you plan to use it.  This will dictate how it should be designed.

How Much Space Should It Consume?

Next, you will have to consider the size of your island. This will depend on the size of your kitchen and how much space you have to play with. Larger kitchens will allow for larger islands that can have a sink or cooktop and will afford you more storage and counter space. Smaller kitchens become a bit trickier but, with some clever design, you can make the most of the space you have.

Island widths start at around 2 – 3 feet deep but will need to be larger (as much as 5 feet deep) if you plan to store appliances or allow for extra seating. Keep in mind some minimum clearances for an island. Ideally, you should have a 48-inch path around an island but 42-inch and even 36-inch clearances can work. The key here is to make sure you can walk around your island with a cabinet or appliance door open. 

The length of your island will depend on what appliances or fixtures you intend to include your design. An island with a cooktop, dishwasher, and sink will add to the island’s overall length – up to 7 feet.  The height of your island will be 36 inches. This height will allow for food prep and cooking and is also ideal for typical kitchen seating. You also have the option to design a double-tier island with a raised top between 42 – 48 inches.  This will add some style to the overall look of your island and can break up a monolithic countertop appearance.

How Much Storage and Countertop Space Do You Need?

You can gain valuable real estate for both working and storage with an island, always a critical need in a kitchen.  An island will add this extra storage space by providing additional drawers, cabinets, and shelving so you can keep pots, pans, spices, recipe books, and almost anything else organized and ready to use at all times. 

Your kitchen island will also give you more working countertop space. Whether you use it for food preparation and serving, for keeping your favorite small appliance at your fingertips, or for your kids to do homework or lend a hand in the kitchen, an island will allow you to spread out more.

What Are Your Style Preferences?

Islands can complement the overall look of your new kitchen, but they also afford you considerable style potential. You can be more creative with color, material, and texture with an island, adding bold elements into a new kitchen.  Islands are a great way to introduce variety into your kitchen and are easier to make modifications to if and when you decide you want a change.