Kitchen islands can be a great addition to any kitchen remodel, and present the opportunity to introduce elements that add to both the form and function of your space. But many of our clients wonder whether the dedicated extra counter space is worth the sacrifice of floor space. Today, our post will cover some basics to help you determine whether a kitchen island would bring your remodel to the next level or make things more difficult.

When a Kitchen Island Makes Sense

The number one factor when weighing your decision about whether to include a kitchen island in your remodel is space. Larger kitchens will, of course, be better candidates for permanent kitchen islands. Permanent islands can help families make effective use of kitchen space, presenting the opportunity to incorporate a main sink, prep sink, or even a stovetop in addition to providing boatloads of extra cabinet and drawer space.

Permanent kitchen islands can bring some lesser-known advantages, too. As Joanne Cannell explains in this piece for kitchen islands can actually solve the problem of a toolarge kitchen. She explains that, “in a medium to large kitchen, wasted space and longer distances between work centers are often solved by an island.” Similarly, kitchen islands can introduce or emphasize a design focus in a large kitchen, whether through cabinetry which pops against the rest of the room or additional counter space for displaying decorative items.

Even when space is at a premium, a kitchen island can be a win. Consider counter space. If you don’t feel satisfied that your current counter space will meet your food preparation habits, a movable kitchen island might be the perfect addition, even in a small kitchen. You can roll it out when it’s time to make dinner, and quickly tuck it against the wall or in an adjacent hall or pantry when done. A rolling island offers the additional benefit of permanent, movable storage for items that you may use less often, such as larger pots and pans or specialty cookware.

When a Kitchen Island Won’t Cut It

There are, of course, some scenarios in which a kitchen island simply won’t work. If your kitchen is on the smaller side, even a movable island might do more to disrupt workflow than it would to improve it. This would definitely be the case for kitchens which would not permit enough clearance on each side of the island to make prep work productive and cooking easy.

Luckily, as Emily Hoefler notes, writing for, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) has created helpful guidelines to help you determine whether or not you will have enough space to work an island into your kitchen remodel. She notes, “You should have at least 42” of clearance on each side of a kitchen island for a walkway. One of those walkways can be as narrow as 36” if you consider it to be just a walkway instead of a “work aisle,” but keep in mind that the function of an island is to have all sides open to work on. If you do that math, this requires a kitchen that is at least 12.5’ to 13’ from wall to wall to accommodate cabinets on each wall, a walkway on each side and a standard depth island.”

If you are up in the air about whether a kitchen island would make or break your kitchen remodel plans, we’d be glad to discuss your options and help you design the space of your dreams!

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