The Ultimate Guide To Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands are nothing new. They are a timeless trend that gives you more counter space, more storage, and another surface to eat or drink off of.

A kitchen island can be the beating heart of your kitchen. Friends and family can stand around the island and everyone can cook together.

Kitchen islands come in all different shapes and sizes, ranging from a nice area to prep food to a central hub complete with stoves and appliances.

In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to choose the perfect island for your kitchen. We’ll talk about several different kitchen island layouts and the pros and cons of each.

How Much Space Do You Need?

After spending a large chunk of money on your kitchen renovation, the last thing you want is for your kitchen to feel small.

A kitchen island can crowd the kitchen making it difficult to move around in. It’s an easy fix, just keep at least one meter between the countertop / cabinets and the kitchen island. Anything less and it’ll feel too tight.

This minimum distance allows two persons to walk around the island easily. It ensures that there’s enough room to open up the fridge door, dishwasher, all drawers, and cupboards without any restrictions. After all, most of these appliances open up by swinging the door towards the centre of the room – exactly where the kitchen island will be.

So, before deciding on the size of your kitchen island, make sure that the minimum space is there. Otherwise, you’ll just be stuck with a tight and congested kitchen.

The Purpose of Your Kitchen Island

Before starting to think about the different types of kitchen islands, you’ll need to decide what you are going to use them for.

Are you gonna be cooking on and sitting around the island? If so, you’ll have to leave sufficient space between the stove and the edge of the island for safety reasons.

Islands used for cooking should be considerably larger. If you’re only using it for meal prep and dining, then you can be more flexible with the size and shape. But when installing a stove, you’ll want to allocate sufficient space on either side.

The Different Types of Kitchen Islands

Now that you’ve considered the minimum space and decided on how you’re going to use your kitchen island, it’s time to choose a design.

You might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of varieties of kitchen islands. Here are some of the most popular types you can choose.


U-shaped islands are the largest of the kitchen island designs. If you have a spacious kitchen then it might be the perfect design choice for you.

U-shaped islands offer a lot of flexibility because of their size. They have storage space, prep space, a counter sitting area. They can declutter existing counter space significantly, and house appliances such as a dishwasher, a sink, a stovetop, or a microwave. Everything including the kitchen sink.

Because of their U-shape, these islands have three walls for installing cabinets and can be the perfect solution for increasing the storage space in your kitchen.

So, if you have the space for it, U-shape islands are a worthwhile consideration.


L-shaped islands are also a large-scale design, but it’s a thinner layout. It takes a lot of space in terms of height, but its thin width allows L-shaped islands to be used in average-sized kitchens.

They can move a kitchen spatially into the corner of an open planned design, achieving a sort of functional partition, while adding storage, bench and sitting space.

A common layout is to use one of the walls for installing cabinets, and the other for installing an oven or dishwasher. You can use one of the sides for prepping your meal, and the other as a dining space.

If you opt for a higher kitchen island it makes for great bar-style seating around the island. There are also designs that have two levels. A higher level for drinks and conversation and a lower level for food prep.


A galley island is a familiar design. It’s a simple square-shaped island that can be customised for installation in kitchens of all sizes.

Galley islands are simple. With this design, it’s all about functionality. With four sides to work with you can max out your storage space, and cram appliances into it.

The best thing about this design is that it’s customisable for any kitchen size.

If you have a small kitchen, you can install a small galley island, and for bigger kitchens, you can go for a bigger galley. Just remember that one-meter rule, and it’ll be fine. Because of the simple design, the installation cost is also cheaper.


If you think that the usual kitchen island styles are boring, you can go for the more unique circular-shaped island. This is a modern, edgy design. You can go for a full circle or a semi-circle, or even do a half circle at the edge of a square island.

The circle shape offers a large counter space. It’s great if you’re a socialite who often has friends helping with the cooking, and everyone is in the kitchen at the same time. You can also fit a lot of seating around the circular island. Guests will be able to eat and converse comfortably.

Rolling Island

A rolling kitchen island is the best design choice for a small kitchen. Basically, these are small moveable islands, with wheels at the bottom. You can easily roll them in and out of your way when working in the kitchen. Rolling islands are also much cheaper than other designs because they don’t require any installation.

What Kind Of Seating Should You Use?

If you want to set up some sort of seating around your kitchen island, you can arrange a bar-style sitting arrangement for both the L-shaped and Galley islands. Tall bar stools work well on these Islands. For a circular island, we’d go with the more traditional round table dining setup.

In terms of sitting space, a good rule of thumb is to have 0.6 meters of space per person. This allows for enough elbow room for sitting comfortably. To make it more clear, if you want to seat four people, your kitchen island should have a minimum length of around (0.6 x 4) 2.4 meters.

Also, consider the height of your kitchen island when buying the chairs. If the island’s height is less than 1 meter, you can choose standard dining chairs. For islands that are taller, a bar stool would be more comfortable.

How Much Does a Kitchen Island Cost?

There’s no exact answer to this. The cost of your kitchen island will depend on the size, materials, and the number of cabinets or drawers you want. There’s of course the additional installation charge. The average cost of a kitchen island is around $4000-$7000.

If you want utilities such as an oven or sink to be installed, it’ll cost you an additional charge for wiring and plumbing. The smaller rolling carts are much cheaper, and they can cost you around $1000-$1500.

Usually, you’d be going for a granite top for your kitchen island. However, you can choose a wooden top (also known as butcher block islands) to reduce the overall cost.

To Sum It Up

To install the perfect kitchen island, consider which size suits your kitchen. Don’t make your kitchen too tight or congested. Consider different styles and shapes to maximize island space. Try to house more appliances and storage on your kitchen island. And always fix a budget first, before you start looking.

Shop around until you find a kitchen island that best fits your needs. Remember, it’s your kitchen. You’re allowed to be picky!