Kitchen Island Dimensions

Kitchen Island Dimensions

Kitchen island dimensions can be tricky.  It's easy for an island to get out of hand in relation to the space where it will be installed.  Catch mistakes with kitchen island dimensions early in the design process.

More than once customers have contacted me about kitchen designs, and declared that they wanted an island.  Once I get the floorplan in hand though, I realize there there the kitchen island dimensions they were thinking will just not work. "There's plenty of room," they say.  "We've got ten feet!" And then I have to break the news that it will be a small island indeed.  Sure there's ten feet of room, but four feet will be chewed up by the cabinets along each wall (normal base cabinets are two feet deep) and the kitchen island dimensions they were thinking (three feet deep by, say, four feet long) will give a total of three feet for walking. 

That's fine, except that there needs to be walking space on both the front and back sides of the island.  A foot and a half is not going to pass muster with the kitchen design police… This is an illustration of that exact scenario.  Black is the walls, blue is the set of perimeter cabinets, and red is the proposed kitchen island dimensions.  Not going to work.  With each square representing six inches, you can see there are 18 inches of clearance on the front and back of the island cabinets.     While you can go less, I think four feet is about right for walkways.  Using that as a guide, there is no room in this kitchen for an island.  Rather than ten feet of space, you ought to have about fifteen feet for this kind of setup. 

Even then though, there'd still be no real room for seating at the island.  If there were enough space once the parallel runs of cabinets finished (down at the bottom of the drawing) it might be possible to put an island out in that space.  More than likely though, in a plan like this, that area is the dining room.  


What are Ideal Kitchen Island Dimensions?

Sorry, there really aren't any.  There are, however, some things to consider…

Kitchen Island Depth:  Symmetrical looks better.  Whatever depth you're going with, get two panels of equal size on the ends.  I've seen a three foot island where a wall cabinet, placed on the floor, was back to back with a base cabinet.  Each cabinet had a paneled end, but when you look at the island form the side, one panel is 24" wide (the base cabinet), and the other is 12" wide (the wall cabinet.  To each his own, but I think it looks weird.  That island might have been better if there were one big panel (just flat plywood 3 feet wide) with a couple of 15" wall cabinet doors (30" high) stuck on the end.

Kitchen Island Length: Whatever toots your horn.  Pretty much whatever you need for space, balanced with what will fit in the kitchen, is what works. 

Kitchen Island Height:  Normal island height is 34 1/2 inches (just like regular base cabinets — but remember that this does not include the countertop thickness) but there's nothing stopping you from going higher or lower with it.  Most people, if their going to vary, will go higher.  This way they can sit comfortably on bar stools.  Some folks will go lower, making their island into a kitchen table with storage.  

Whatever kitchen island dimensions you decide on, just make sure there's enough room to get around it.  And remember to include the total countertop size when figuring the footprint that the island will make in your kitchen.


Written by:

4 responses to “Kitchen Island Dimensions”

  1. Karen Hill says:

    Hello Craig, we are having a kitchen island installed. There is already one but we don’t like its shape. There is already an electrical outlet there and we want to keep it.

    We are thinking of placing 2 24″x48″ back to back with end panels at each end. Then we will get a 48″x48″ butcher block countertop.

    But I cannot find out if there is such a thing as a 24″x48″ cabinet.

    Thank you.

    • Craig says:

      If you mean a cabinet 48" wide by 24" deep, then yes, these are possible and made by most manufacturers.  You can get end panels, but what might be better is to get the ends of each cabinet paneled.  Bertch makes them part of the cabinet, while other companies like Masterbrand do a finished end with a fake door stuck on after the fact.  I like the Bertch method better; we have one in our display run at work and it's nice.  You can also get recessed toe spaces on the sides of the cabinets to that you can work on any of the island's four sides and be comfortable.

      I'm not sure where the outlet is going though.  If there's space between the backs of these cabinets, then the paneled ends I suggested may not work. 

  2. Elsie Semanik says:

    I am looking to have an island built it will be used for eating and socializing and no food prep will be done on it. We are tall people..I am thinking about 46 inches tall. What height should the stools be? I know there must be 12 inches between seat and top of the counter. Do you think the counter could be higher and if so what about the height of the stools do they come in all sizes?

    • Craig says:

      Elsie, I’m not sure how tall you are or what you’re looking at for stools.  I’ll tell you that I’m 6 foot even, and a 48″ (top of the countertop) island is too tall for me if I’m on a 30″ bar stool.  I made this island so high because it’s my workstation and I wanted to be able to stand and type, rather than be sitting for much of the day.  The sitting contributed to the extra 30 or so pounds I’ve put on since quitting smoking, and I thought this would be another way to get rid of some.  🙂

      46″ might work with the 30″ stools, but I’d be leery.  I see adjustable height stools on Amazon, but the biggest I saw after a little hunting around was 30″ and change.  42″ is probably going to be more comfortable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *