August 21


Kitchen Island Buying Guide: Everything You Need To Know

By Robin Hatch

August 21, 2020

What is a kitchen island? What can you use it for? Why do you need one, and where to find one? Are they expensive or affordable? You have decided yet again to redecorate or freshen up your cooking space – don’t stress. Here is everything you need to know about a kitchen island.

The kitchen island is a freestanding piece of furniture used either as a small table or for extra storage. 

It is usually placed in the middle of the kitchen. If walls do not separate your kitchen and living room, the kitchen island can also serve that purpose.

These pieces will forever be classics, and in case you would like one to get more space or feel like a real cook – we have answered all the most important (and some obscure) questions for you! 

Average Size Of The Kitchen Island

The average size of a kitchen island is 80 x 40 inches and 36-40 inches in height, depending on the type. Depending on your needs and the size of the kitchen, your kitchen island will either serve as a bar, an eating space, or kitchen appliances.

If you have a huge kitchen or wish to have a long island to separate rooms, we suggest finding another option. A row of cabinets, or keep a smaller island. If it is too big, it may as well just be a dining table.

What Is The Best Size For a Kitchen Island?

It is essential to design your kitchen island according to your needs. Don’t get a kitchen island too small or too big. If it is too small, it will look weird and like it doesn’t belong there. If it’s too big, it will take up a lot of free space and make your small kitchen seem even smaller.

There are many possibilities when it comes to the shape and size of kitchen islands. Not every kitchen will look good with one. Here is a video guide to help you with designing your own.

There needs to be space for you to move around, so try to have at least a solid 40 inches of space between the counters and the kitchen island.

How Long Should An Island Be?

Twenty-five inches is enough space for a person to have while sitting and eating. So depending on your family members or potential guest lists, you should measure how long your kitchen island should be. 

For example, if you need space for four people in your household, you will need a 7ft island.

Should Kitchen Islands Be Higher Than The Counter?

Kitchen islands and counters are often equally high, but islands can be higher if you prefer to have them that way. Thirty-six inches is the recommended height. That’s just the standard.

42-inch kitchen islands are often used as dining tables. You can add a few barstools to make your kitchen a social hot spot. In this case, a 36-inch kitchen island is not high enough for eating comfortably or even sitting on bar stools.

This being said, you probably won’t eat on the kitchen island all the time. Bar stools are not remarkably comfy but can be great for quick meals or pizza nights.

Maybe, esthetically speaking, you would like it if your island wasn’t higher than the counters since your kitchen may look more prominent in size that way. So think about your kitchen priorities before deciding on your design.

Is Your Kitchen Too Small For An Island?

If your kitchen is tiny, buying and installing a kitchen island might look awkward. Not to mention you will bump into it more often than you’ll like to admit.

Since the minimum recommended dimension is about 40 x 40 inches, you might have a problem if this is too big for you.

Kitchen islands look very odd in small spaces and can make you physically and mentally uncomfortable. But there is an elegant solution to this problem as well – a kitchen peninsula. 

Just like in nature, their names speak for themselves. A kitchen peninsula is similar to a kitchen island. It is, however, connected to another counter. It is L-shaped or U-shaped. It is a great alternative; it is cheaper and still provides some extra dining space!

Don’t despair if your kitchen still seems too small for any option. Kitchen islands aren’t necessary. It is better to have more space than a lovely kitchen that is by no means functional.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Kitchen Island?

It all depends on your design. The prices can vary so much that it is hard to answer this question if you are trying to prepare yourself for the answer.

Let’s begin. Some models, which are simple and sold in most stores, can cost you about $100-$300. If you got excited and started preparing for a trip to your nearest store, sit back down and read on. 

The average cost, however, ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. If you are looking for something fancy and original, vintage or custom, you will have to save up more than $10,000 to add a single piece of furniture to your home.

Of course, if you need help installing the kitchen island, then your store will probably have a particular policy and a price for extra support. Some stores offer their services for free, so feel free to tip whoever helps you out – it is not an easy job. 

A kitchen island is an excellent idea in many aspects.

  1. Your kitchen (assuming it is big enough) will get a new dimension and look much more professional, sophisticated, and elegant. Who doesn’t want to be complimented on their home? You will feel better seeing your space look so good.
  1. It uses space but it also saves it. A kitchen island can be used for appliances, storage, eating, or for enjoying afternoon cocktails. You don’t have to leave the kitchen if you get a bit hungry because you will always have an extra surface you don’t use for cooking.
  1. It adds value to your home. Even if you are not selling anytime soon, it doesn’t hurt to upgrade your house in case you decide to sell one day. Removing them is not that expensive if you change your mind. It costs about $200.

It’s also important to remember that if you need any outlets or wiring installed on the kitchen island, you should budget for it.

Does a Kitchen Island Have To Be Attached To The Floor?

Smaller kitchen islands need to be bolted to the floor. They are lighter than massive islands to be moved, bumped into, or knocked over. If you are quite clumsy, have a small child, or have a playful pet, you need to think about safety more than anything. 

You will need to measure everything correctly. It will make the difference between a beautiful kitchen and your greatest remodeling mistake.

You will also need to attach the frame securely to your kitchen island using screws. You will most likely need to cut the legs to the appropriate height.

Kitchen islands need to be anchored to the floor to make them stable during use and ensure they stay in one place if someone accidentally (or on purpose) moves them or hits them with something.

How Far Should A Kitchen Island Be From The Cabinets?

Thirty-six inches is the minimum when it comes to space between kitchen islands and cabinets. If the counter near the kitchen island works as a sink, stove, dishwasher, or anything similar, the space should be more expansive – about 40 to 50 inches.

They recommended distance between kitchen work areas, including perimeter countertops and kitchen islands: 42 inches minimum in a kitchen where only one cook usually works, or 48 inches minimum in a kitchen where more than one cook may be working.

It doesn’t matter if it is not a professional kitchen; maybe you share a household or like to cook with your significant other – you need space. You don’t need to hurt yourself to cook a good meal!

What Is a Floating Kitchen Island?

The floating kitchen islands usually have downlights that emphasize the open space beneath the kitchen cabinets, so they appear to be floating.

They are great for smaller spaces and make big kitchens even bigger and lighter. The only downside to them is the lack of storage in the form of drawers or cabinets.

They look very modern and calm, so think about this alternative.

Furniture of America Kis Traditional 66-inch Kitchen Island

These are our top 3 picks for kitchen islands that you can have professionally installed or installed yourself.

  1. Tali Reclaimed Wood Extendable Kitchen Island
  2. Furniture of America Kis Traditional 66-inch Kitchen Island
  3. Furniture of America Kis Traditional 3 Piece Kitchen Island Set

These kitchen islands are big enough to dine and gather with friends around. Enjoy the flexibility of a dining room set and the durability of a kitchen island all in these one-piece sets.


Read more about kitchen islands below.

How To Size A Kitchen Island – Complete Guide

Can A Kitchen Island Be Moved? Learn How To Here

Do Kitchen Islands Need To Be Centered?

Kitchen islands are different for each kitchen. The size, material, and stools are available for each set are unique to each kitchen island.

We recommend measuring your kitchen island and ensuring that walking and sitting spaces can accommodate both you and your friends.

Don’t force a kitchen island, as it can look awkward if randomly placed in the middle of the kitchen.

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked kitchen questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.

Robin Hatch

About the author

For over a decade, Robin has been a real estate agent, interior design specialist, and mother. Through her trials and tribulations, she wanted to create the perfect website to help you save money and make your home look beautiful.

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