Kitchens are one of the first rooms renovated in a home. They generate some of the highest return rates at resale and they improve the overall function of a home. So much happens throughout the day in the kitchen it just makes sense to focus on this room first. Within the scope of kitchen renovations there’s a lot that can be done. One item that’s almost always on the list for homeowners is the beloved kitchen island. Extra work space, extra storage, room for sitting and eating, what’s not to love? But they aren’t always the best fit in every kitchen. Literally. Let’s dive into this topic and see what pearls of wisdom we can unearth.


Before you even get started drafting up ideas for your new kitchen, complete with island, there are a few basic specs you need to be mindful of. First and foremost, the amount of space you need to make it function without disrupting the flow. You need a minimum for 42” on all sides of the island to prevent traffic jams. Little less than 4 feet. That’s not bad. But remember, that’s in addition to the actual size of the island itself. 

For an island to be worth anything you need at least 3 feet of depth and between 4 and 6 feet in width. Depending on what you’re going to integrate into your island, you may need even more space. Room for a cooking range, sink or an area for eating will only add to the amount of space you need to make it worth the endeavor. At a minimum you’ll need around 12’ in one direction and another 11’ perpendicularly. 

The main purpose for kitchen renovations is to increase space and efficiency. If your kitchen can’t accommodate these basic specs, it might not be in the cards for you.


One option you may have available is to expand the kitchen out, and/or open it up into the dining room to create the extra space you need to make an island work. Room additions aren’t always a guaranteed bet, but if you’re adding room to the kitchen it will most likely pay off. It will be expensive, however. Possibly more than your budget can afford.

If this is the case, consider instead adding depth to your counters and lower cabinets. While you’re deepening the cabinets, install custom cabinets that fit your needs better. Cabinets with drawer shelves and/or Lazy Suzans to make those items stored way in the back just as easy to reach will give you extra space without extra hassle.

Another popular substitute to the kitchen island is to add a peninsula. Peninsulas are an easy, less expensive way to add a little extra storage, room for you or your guests to sit and eat without needing nearly as much room They can shoot straight off a wall, or extend an already existing counter/cabinet space. 

Match Made In Heaven

Kitchen islands and open floor plans are like peas in a pod. In fact, they’re pretty much essential for each other. The island nicely defines this portion of the space in an open plan while also providing much needed storage and workspace. With an open floor plan, you’re only so limited in space. This makes it so you can include as many bells and whistles as you want in your island.

In an open floor plan, your island can be the other end of the classic triangle layout, housing the oven and cooking range opposite your sink and fridge. With all that extra space you can include a beer or wine fridge, extra hidden garbage, and, of course, more and more storage. With this layout you can cook and entertain all at the same time.

Your contractor will be able to provide the perfect solution to your kitchen conundrums. Having these requirements in your mind before getting your heart set on the impossible, however, will make life much easier.