How Much Space Do You Need For a Kitchen Island When Remodeling?

Floor plan and layout advice when remodeling for a large kitchen island

For many homeowners remodeling their kitchen, one of the biggest requests and most sought after features is an island. A well-planned island can allow for a smooth workflow and provide plenty of space for preparing and cooking meals. Islands can also provide space for dining and storage.

While a thoughtfully designed kitchen island layout offers plenty of benefits, a poorly planned or inappropriately placed island can be frustrating. This can be especially true if you don't have sufficient room for an island. If you'd like to include an island in your upcoming kitchen renovation, here are a few tips to decide if you have enough space to make an island work for you, and if not, we'll give you a couple of other options to consider.

There Are Kitchen Island Options For A Smaller Kitchen...

When it comes to kitchen islands, don't assume that you can't fit in an island if your kitchen is smaller. Your designer can help you to determine your available options. You may not be able to have all of the features you want, but there are islands available or can be custom designed to fit almost any kitchen. Many manufacturers offer options with a reduced depth, or customized height, or even portable islands on wheels that can move where needed.

Your designer will measure your space to determine if an island is possible. As a general rule, you should plan a minimum 36-inch clearance surrounding the island. This allows free and safe movement around the island and throughout the kitchen. You also want to consider safety. The right amount of distance will allow for doors, drawers, and appliances to be safely opened without impacting movement or safety. The minimum distance you should allow between two fully extended drawers is about 3 feet.

Kitchen Islands Can Vary Widely in Size and Shape

If you are working with a smaller kitchen, the minimum recommended for a fixed island is about 40X40 inches. An island of this size would require clearance of 31 ½-inches. This is the smallest possible distance to allow for safe, unobstructed passage. While this is adequate, it doesn't comfortably allow for two people working within the space, so if that's an important factor, you may want to reconsider adding a fixed island.

No matter what size your kitchen, make sure your kitchen island is correctly proportioned for the space. If it's too large, it can ruin the aesthetics of the space. Too small and it can look out of place and awkward. By not keeping your space proportional you run the risk of creating a cramped environment that can create an impractical and inefficient workflow.

Kitchen Island Alternatives

If you're set on adding an island, but your kitchen is too small, relax, there are options! One option, especially if you're planning a major renovation is to take down or move a wall to create more space. Consider “borrowing“ room from an adjoining mud room, or removing a wall to create a more open concept. Often, this process can open up your space and provide plenty of room for a large island that can transition beautifully into your living space.

If structural changes aren't possible or feasible, small-scale options include butcher block, movable islands, and trolleys. There are all great options if you don't have the space for a fixed island. Eye-catching designs are available that are functional and offer additional storage space underneath as well as a solid work surface. These are also much more budget friendly than a fixed island.

Consider Adding a Peninsula As An Option

The name literally means “almost an island, ” and it's a great option that can add additional space. Peninsulas are a great choice for smaller kitchens because that are functional, and with one end fixed to a wall, they take up less floor space. A peninsula also doesn't require the same clearance as an island because one side is fixed to the wall.

The best solution is to sit down with a kitchen designer and review your options. If you're doing a complete renovation, you can relocate elements within your kitchen to free up space for a beautiful, functional island. If not, your designer can show you viable options that can increase the functionality of your kitchen and improve your workflow.  

About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.