A kitchen island can be an extremely useful and aesthetically pleasing addition to any kitchen. However, there are some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind when designing and installing a kitchen island to ensure it is functional, safe, and looks great. Follow these 10 essential dos and don’ts when designing your dream kitchen island.


Do Choose the Right Size

When selecting the size of your island, make sure to measure the space carefully. The ideal distance between the island and other kitchen elements like counters and appliances is at least 42 inches. This allows enough room for multiple people to work comfortably.

The size should be proportional to the overall kitchen space. An island that is too small will feel cramped and won’t provide ample workspace or storage. Conversely, an oversized island can make the kitchen feel closed off and crowded.

Do Select a Practical Shape

The shape of your island should complement the existing kitchen layout. Rectangular or square islands are great for larger kitchens, while rounded or oval islands can fit well in smaller spaces.

Consider traffic flow when choosing the shape so the island doesn’t disrupt the workflow. Island shapes with ample leg room and space to walk around are most practical.

Do Include Lots of Storage

One major advantage of a kitchen island is all the extra storage space. Incorporate deep drawers, cabinets, shelves, and other storage solutions into your island design.

Storage for pots, pans, baking essentials, tableware, pantry items, and more will help maximize the functionality. Just don’t overload the island with too much bulky storage.

Do Use the Island for Extra Seating

Kitchen islands can often double as extra seating space when entertaining or casual meals. Allow for at least 15-18 inches of overhang on one side to comfortably accommodate bar stools.

Consider the height of the island and if it aligns with your existing counter height before choosing bar stools. Islands 36-42 inches high work well for seating.

Do Select Durable, Low-Maintenance Materials

Since the island will see heavy usage daily, opt for durable materials that can withstand wear and tear. Granite, quartz, marble, and wood are all great options that are easy to clean and maintain.

The countertop material should be impervious to scratches, stains, and heat. Avoid porous, high-maintenance materials like limestone or unsealed concrete.


Don’t Make the Island Too Narrow

Islands less than 36 inches wide will not provide ample surface area for meal prep and cooking. Anything under 48 inches could feel cramped and limit functionality.

Ideally, your island should be at least 4-5 feet wide to allow multiple people to work comfortably and move around all sides with ease.

Don’t Forget the Overhang

An overhang of 10-15 inches on one side of the island is highly recommended, especially if using it for seating. This overhang provides leg room and easy access.

Without a proper overhang, bar stools will be pushed too close to the counter, making the space uncomfortable and hazardous.

Don’t Obstruct Traffic Flow

A kitchen island can quickly disrupt the workflow if positioned poorly. Make sure there is ample clearance on all sides so multiple cooks can move freely.

At least 42 inches of space around the perimeter is ideal. Locate the island away from high-traffic zones like the fridge, stove, and sink areas.

Don’t Overload the Space

While the extra storage and surface area an island provides is enticing, don’t go overboard. Too many appliances and accessories can make the space feel cluttered.

Stick to the essentials like a prep sink, trash/recycle bins, wine rack, and some open shelving or drawers. Leave enough open counter area for food prep.

Don’t Forget Electrical and Plumbing

If you want to incorporate electrical outlets, lights, or a sink into your island design, make sure to plan the required plumbing and wiring during the design phase.

Trying to add these elements later can be complicated and costly. Consult an electrician and plumber early in the planning process.


By keeping these top dos and don’ts in mind when designing your dream kitchen island, you can create a functional, eye-catching focal point that will provide convenience and extra storage. Carefully consider the size, shape, seating, materials, traffic flow, storage solutions, and electrical/plumbing needs during the planning process. This will ensure your kitchen island is optimized for ergonomics, aesthetics, and productivity. With the right island design, you can transform your kitchen into a highly efficient and inviting space for cooking, socializing, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal size for a kitchen island?

The ideal kitchen island size is 4-5 feet wide and proportional to the overall kitchen space, allowing for ample room to work and move around all sides. The space between the island and other elements should be at least 42 inches.

Should you include seating with a kitchen island?

Incorporating overhang seating on one side of the kitchen island is highly recommended. Allow for a 15-18 inch overhang to comfortably accommodate bar stools. Ensure the island height aligns with your existing counter height.

What is the best material for a kitchen island countertop?

Durable and low-maintenance materials like granite, quartz, marble, and wood make excellent countertop choices. Opt for materials that can withstand daily wear and tear and are resistant to scratches, stains, and heat.

Should you add storage to a kitchen island?

Yes, incorporating lots of storage like drawers, cabinets, shelves, and pull-out racks maximizes the functionality of the island. Just be careful not to overload the island with too much bulky storage.

How much space do you need around a kitchen island?

Ideally, allow for at least 42 inches of clearance on all sides of the island. This enables multiple people to comfortably move around and pass through. Avoid positioning the island in high-traffic zones.