Kitchen Islands – Some Do’s and Don’ts

The practicalities of a kitchen island are plain to see. They provide more surface space than the average wrap-around the walls kitchen, and much more practical storage space too. They are sociable places where guests can gather while the cook cooks, where children can do their homework, and where casual meals can be taken without the effort of laying the table. They also act as room dividers in open-plan spaces by creating a transition zone between cooking and eating or living areas. But not all kitchen islands are created equal. There are some do’s and don’ts when planning and installing an island that will either make or break a workable scheme.

Kitchen Islands - Some Do's and Don'ts

Alderley In Bone via Burbidge Kitchen Makers.

Size Matters

Deciding on the dimensions of your island will mostly depend on the size of your kitchen. This may seem obvious but I’ve seen so many badly proportioned kitchen islands that I think it needs saying. Too small and it will look lost in the space and will create too many steps between that all important kitchen triangle. Too big and it will obstruct traffic and act as a barrier that you will be constantly walking around. The minimum size is 1,000 by 1,000mm.  And the walk-around space (the space between the island and the wall units or dining table) should be a minimum of 1,000mm. Always bear in mind if you are going large, that you need to be able to reach the middle easily for cleaning. Apart from that I’d advise going as large as proportions allow and that allows you to move around it comfortably.

Kitchen Islands - Some Do's and Don'ts

Liden 3 Light Bar Pendant White and Polished Chrome via Dar Lighting Group.

Seating Comfortably

If you are intending to provide stools around the island, and let’s face it why wouldn’t you. Allow a 300mm overhang at the very least. 900m is a recommended standard height for a kitchen island. Seating at this height is somewhere between a typical kitchen table seat and typical bar stools. Some professionals recommend 1,000mm for an island that will be used mainly for dining which is why you’ll sometimes see an island with a higher breakfast bar. It’s not a look I’m particularly fond of but it’s a matter of choice. How many stools you provide is also a matter of choice and you’ll ideally need 700mm per stool. However, ask yourself if you really need more than 3. The island is really only mean’t for perching and casual eating. You really don’t need to provide for every member of the family.

Kitchen Islands - Some Do's and Don'ts

Colosseum Cubist Dark Luxury Vinyl Tiles via Lifestyle Floors.


If planned for at an early stage of the project, the island is a practical place to put the sink or the hob. It will free up space on other work surfaces and means the chef can face out towards the guests or family while prepping or cooking. Plumbing and/or extraction need to be considered and so does the unwelcome fact that a hob or sink on the kitchen island needs to be kept sparkling clean at all times. It’s also a good idea to factor in at an early stage electrical outputs, so that mixers etc can be used at the island without the possibility of trailing wires across the kitchen.

Kitchen Islands - Some Do's and Don'ts

Milano Contour in Lagoon via Wren Kitchens.


A kitchen island is the perfect opportunity to include some extra style in your kitchen. Using a different colour to the rest of the kitchen cupboards will provide more interest. Look to Pinterest for inspiration. Different materials will break up the kitchen feel, especially if the open-plan area encompasses the living room too. Consider also the lighting. Pendants are a great way to add style and personality, as well as being practical. And then add plants or flowers. After all, this is the centrepiece of your room and is should reflect that.

Kitchen Islands - Some Do's and Don'ts

Horizontal Pendants via Original BTC.

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  1. Reply

    Charlie Kingham

    February 11, 2020

    I love the tip about seating! I always point out that bar stools and kitchen stools are not the same – different heights can make all the difference between towering over your island or sitting comfortably. We love your blog – your latest one on sideboards was inspiring!

    • Reply


      February 12, 2020

      That’s a very good point about the barstools Charlie. Glad you like the blog 🙂


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