May 7


How To Size A Kitchen Island

By Robin Hatch

May 7, 2020

Installing a kitchen island into an already-designed kitchen is a big decision for most homeowners. The new kitchen island will now be the focal point of your kitchen, so it needs to be installed properly.

We’ve created a guide for you to enhance your kitchen island sizing and buying experience, so your island will impress your visitors.

In this article, we’re going to look at the different sizes, appliances, and amenities that you can add to your kitchen island.

First, before we get started, sizing up your kitchen is the absolute first step; so that no mistakes are made during the installation phase.

Sizing a Kitchen Island

First, you’ll want to get the measurements of your kitchen area, where the island we’ll go. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you’re sizing up your kitchen. Let’s get started.

Walking Space

There needs to be enough room (at least 3 feet) of walkway space for people to pass by the island. This includes walking space when the cabinets are fully open. Take this into account for your measurements.

Keep in mind kitchen islands are typically an area for kids or adults to gather around. The feeling of constraint while trying to enjoy a meal can often make guests feel uncomfortable.

We always err on the side of caution and give a little bit more room when sizing for a kitchen island.

Shape Of Island

Islands come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no “one size fits all” island. This is important to note because when you’re shopping for a kitchen island, it’s essential to find one that fits the shape of your kitchen.

how to size a Kitchen island

For example, if your kitchen is symmetrical, in the shape of a square or a rectangle, it makes sense to find a kitchen island that fits the shape of your kitchen.

If your kitchen is more open-faced and doesn’t necessarily have a symmetrical shape to it, finding the right kitchen island style will be a bit more work.

Appliances On The Island

The next step in sizing your kitchen island is writing down all of the appliances that you want on the kitchen island. Also, determine the primary use of the kitchen island.

Kitchen islands are often used as centerpieces in the kitchen, often used as additional storage.

Finished countertops allow for fast-moving families to have dinner while standing up or on the go, especially if there’s not enough room in the kitchen for a dining set.

However, there are other appliances that you can have installed on your island to forego some of the traditional countertop appliances along the wall.

Cabinets or Draws

Last, deciding between kitchen cabinets or draws that will be swung or pulled open—again, taking into account the amount of space needed to swing open a cabinet or a draw.

There must be at least 3 feet of space (check your local code, as it could change) between the cabinet and anything intruding on it. This is for safety purposes, so you don’t have to clog the walking space.

Draws or cabinets are a personal preference in what you think looks better and best fits your space.

Keep in mind if you plan on storing small utensils, the small appliance draws may be your best option. On the other hand, if you’re looking to store pots and pans, cabinets to store kitchenware may make more sense.


Last, we want to talk about seating and if you’re going to have room for two, three, or four seats. Commonly, these seats are high tops that sit opposite the cookware or on a flat surface.

sizing a Kitchen island

We start with sizing your kitchen because it will be harder to install proper seating if you don’t have a symmetrical kitchen.

The ideal shape for a kitchen island for seating is a square or rectangular kitchen island, where guests can get their legs underneath the island without hitting their knees on the actual island itself.

Cook Top Kitchen Island

Cooktops are a great switch up from the traditional countertop cooktop. Island cooktops allow the chef to engage with their guests while cooking a meal.

sizing a cook-top kitchen island
via Pinterest

This is great for parents who also want to keep an eye on their kids without having to turn their back on them. These cooktops are easy to cook a meal and serve the plates in front of the chef.

If you plan on buying a cooktop, we also recommend you look at purchasing a hood or kitchen extractor fan to absorb all of the steam and condensation that occurs when cooking.

We recently wrote about the best kitchen extractor fans here to help you with your purchasing decisions.

Sink Top Kitchen Island

A nice compliment to having cookware is installing a sink into your kitchen island. The sink is great to wash any vegetables or meats that you may be cooking with and move them right over to the pan for cooking.

how to size a kitchen island
via Pinterest

Of course, we always want our buyers to understand that if they’re buying a sink for their island, they need to have a water line piped into the sink.

Check with your housing code and your local plumber if there’s a way to pipe in running water, so there’s no issue when installing the sink.


As mentioned, to properly size your kitchen island, correctly measure the amount of space you want to dedicate to the island space.

Our rule is the island should complement the kitchen, not complicate it. If the kitchen island takes up too much space and is hard to maneuver around, we recommend foregoing the kitchen island.

If you’re looking for a mobile kitchen island, which is excellent for apartments or smaller kitchens, we recommend checking out smaller kitchen islands that can be moved. We wrote an entire article on these kitchen islands here.

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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