Island or no island?

We hear this one a lot…  “I want to add an island in my kitchen, but I don’t know if it will fit.”  We see these big beautiful kitchens in the magazines or on houzz.com and we wonder if we could add an island to our kitchen.  It sounds easy enough right?  We wouldn’t even have to disturb any of our existing cabinetry if we just plopped it down in the middle!

This can work sometimes!  It all comes down to walking space and isle widths.  In most communities, building codes require at least a 36” space for walking on all sides of an island.  In smaller kitchens especially, you might be able to crowd that down a little but be careful!  In a generous kitchen design, we like to allow 42-48” isle ways.  Remember also that if you are planning to sit at this island, you will need to allow for a larger isle on that side so that someone can pass behind the chair or stool.

An island doesn’t have to be large to be effective.  In fact, I have seen some small kitchens vastly improved by the addition of an island as small as 2’x4’.   If the island will be home to a sink, bar stools, or cooking appliances, it will need to be larger.

I still haven’t answered the question though have I?  Well, let’s do some simple math then…add it up with me now.  We need 36” on each side of our island for walking space, and we want that island to be 24” across, then we need to have a minimum of 96” of free space between counters or walls in that direction.  In the other direction, we would need 120” if our island is to be 4’ long.  So… for a 2’x4’ island to work comfortably, we need a minimum of 96”x120” of clear space.  If you don’t have at least this much room, you need to be considering another option, or looking into what would be required to create that space.

If you just don’t have the room, consider purchasing an island that is on wheels.  These rolling table islands can be moved in to position when working, and then pushed out of the way when you need the room.  This type of island can be purchased “off the shelf” and could be a cost effective alternative to a complete kitchen overhaul.  Of course, we at Studio Stratton are still partial to the complete remodel!

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