All you need to know about building a Kitchen Island

by Home Pros Guide on Thu, Jan 3rd Categories: kitchens (703 Views)

A kitchen island is a great addition to many modern kitchens. In addition to providing much-needed counter space, it can also serve as a cooktop and a tidy storage space.  For homes with an open floor plan, it can also act as a room divider, increasing visual appeal while adding functionality.

Planning Your Island

Because a kitchen island is accessible from all sides, it is a versatile piece of furniture that can be used in a variety of ways. When planning its design, therefore, you must first consider how you intend to use it.


Typically, homeowners use their kitchen islands in one of four ways. They are:

Food prep area

Additional cooking area

Cleanup area

Informal dining area

Each of these functions comes with its own design considerations. For instance, if it is to function as a food prep area, you might find it useful to include a small sink and a butcher-block countertop. Additionally, you will likely want to position it close to the refrigerator, cooktop, and garbage disposal for the sake of convenience. Some homeowners also choose to add electrical outlets for small kitchen appliances to their islands.

Size Considerations

Because an island is accessible from all sides, it can take up quite a bit of space in your kitchen. At a minimum, it should be about 4 feet long, at least 2 feet wide, and high enough to allow for comfort when you are working at the countertop or sitting under the counter overhang. If your kitchen will not accommodate these dimensions, it is better to forego it in favor of other options.

Proper Placement of Your Island

The placement is dependent upon how you intend to use it. In general, when planning your design, you will want to ensure that it is placed in such a way that any cabinet doors and storage bins can be easily opened or pulled out. Additionally, if you intend to have a dishwasher on your island, be sure that the door of the dishwasher will be unobstructed when completely opened.

Storage Options and Considerations

 Ideally, your kitchen island will provide plenty of additional storage. Depending on how you plan to use it, you may find that your storage options vary. For instance, if it will house a sink, oven, or dishwasher, your storage area will be considerably reduced. On the other hand, if it will be used for dining or clean-up, you can likely use all the cabinet space.

Lighting and Seating Considerations

Your kitchen island will be less useful than it could be if you do not illuminate it correctly. For almost everything that you would do in this area, adequate lighting is necessary. If your ceilings are of average height, recessed lighting is a good option. It provides enough light without being obtrusive.

If your kitchen has high ceilings, however, recessed lighting will likely not provide enough light. In this case, you might want to consider pendant lighting. Pendant lights should be placed directly over it for the best effect. Here is a word of caution, however. If you choose pendant lighting, you must be careful to place the fixtures to hang at the correct height so that they do not interfere with your view or obstruct the work you do at your island in any way.

The type of seating you use depends upon the counter height. Some homeowners find it useful to have a dual-height island so that one side can be used for seating and the other side can be used for working comfortably at standing level.

Cooking and Ventilation

If your kitchen island includes a cooktop, you must take into account providing proper ventilation. This can be an expensive and troublesome aspect for a number of reasons.  A downdraft fan behind the cooktop is often the top choice for homeowners because it eliminates the visual problem of having an overhead vent hood. The downside to this is that downdraft fans may not handle the worst cooking smells complete. To compensate for that shortcoming, you may need to install a second exhaust fan in the ceiling.

The other option is to use an overhead hood that extends up through the ceiling. This option has a tremendous visual impact on your kitchen, which may or may not be something you desire. Some homeowners choose to have custom-designed overhead hoods which make a bold visual statement. Because the hood must be completely finished on all sides, costs can mount for this option, making it less attractive to some homeowners. Additionally, because an overhead hood is so prominent in your overall design, it can negatively affect the final look of your kitchen if not done exceptionally well.


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