Getting It Right: Designing Your Kitchen Island

Getting It Right: Designing Your Kitchen Island

The kitchen island has become the icon of the modern kitchen. For many homeowners, no kitchen design can be considered complete without an island at its center. And for a good reason: kitchen islands work—when properly designed. A well-designed island is ideal for a variety of kitchen tasks from food prep to dining in addition to acting as homework central, a place to play games, or a workstation for hobbies and crafts.

Islands take up lots of space; therefore, they must work hard and work well to earn the kitchen real estate they occupy. Here are some things islands can do and tips for getting your kitchen island design right. 

For Food Prep

If you plan to use your island as a food prep area, you’ll want to be sure to include outlets for small appliances. Have the refrigerator and cooktop close by with easy access to the compost bin or disposer. Consider a full or partial butcher block countertop. A prep sink is very useful here.

Photo by Kitchen Distributors

For Cooking

For cooking, you’ll need at least 18 inches of space on either side of the cooktop. Heat resistant countertops (stone, porcelain, metal) are what you’ll want for hot pans. Plan for an overhead vent hood or downdraft fan. A raised eating area will place your diners out of range of splatters.

For Dining

The height of your island's eating area determines the type of seating you'll have. Use a standard chair with a 28-30” counter, a counter stool with a standard 36”counter, and a bar stool with a 42”-48” counter.

Dual-height islands can create informal eating areas, hide dirty dishes, and protect others from splatters. When it comes to the countertops, a softly contoured or rounded edge profile is more comfortable for leaning on.  

Island Size and Placement

Your kitchen should be at least 12 feet long and 8 feet wide to accommodate an island. An island should be, at a minimum, four feet long and at least 25 inches wide. The ideal distance for the clearance zone is about 3 feet. This is best for enabling free and safe movement around the island and throughout the kitchen.

Island Storage

An island offers valuable real estate in terms of storage. On the working side, make sure you have room to store the things that are needed for the main activities the island supports. For a cooking island, for instance, you’ll want your pots and pans and other cooking tools, as well as spices, at hand. For prep, you’ll want spaces for knives, cutting boards, and small appliances like food processors and stand mixers. You’ll also want convenient access to garbage bins. On the non-working side of the island, take advantage of the shallow cabinets (use the deeper cabinets on the working side) for serving items—napkins, cutlery, serving dishes, etc.—that don't need to be in the food prep area.

Keep in mind your storage space will become more limited if you install a sink or major appliance like a dishwasher, oven, cooktop, or downdraft fan because the mechanics are stored in the cabinet below.


The Original Granite Bracket® offers a range of Hidden Island Brackets to support your island countertop overhangs. This extra support will safely and securely protect your countertop investment and will also eliminate the need for bulky corbels and legs for roomier seating with easy access to your island storage below. We’re here for you to make sure you get the right brackets for your project —reach out to us anytime! 

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