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The Small Kitchen Island Size Guide

A home should feel comfortable, not crowded. Nowhere is this more true than in a kitchen. When a kitchen has too much in it, it can be at best claustrophobic and at worst dangerous. But sometimes, you need to add in another surface for food preparation, add more storage, or even just add some personal comfort. In larger kitchens open space is easily taken up by a well proportioned island, but smaller kitchens pose a unique challenge.

How Much Space Do You Need?

When you look at your kitchen, think about what you use it for. Do you entertain in the space? Is it purely for food preparation? Do you store your food and ingredients there, or do you have a pantry? Where do you put your pots and pans when not in use? 

If you find yourself taking up your counter space with something that should have its own home, you’re definitely in need of storage. Cabinets are a lot to plan for, and when your kitchen already has cabinets, it can be difficult to get them to match up just right with a new addition. 

In smaller kitchens, counter space is always at a premium. Minor appliances that don’t fit in cabinets usually take up valuable surface area. If you’re preparing a multipart meal, you need a place to put some of your already prepared food, while you work on other aspects. Building out another counter surface sounds like the ideal solution, but can you afford to permanently cut out some of the limited walking space in your already limited kitchen?

What Dimensions Are You Working With?

Before you make any concrete decisions about adding in counter space, you need to determine how much space you have in your kitchen. Ideally, you should have enough room to maneuver safely with foot, utensils, and the like. This typically breaks down to about 3 feet wide. You also want to consider what the opening clearance might be from cabinets and drawers around your island. 

If you want to have drawers that pull out on your island, and also have drawers that pull out on the opposite counter, you may find yourself completely blocking a path if both ever needed to be open at the same time. In that case, you should ensure that you have plenty of space between two cabinets and drawers that face each other when they’re both open.

Multifunction Is The Way To Go

In tight spaces, it’s always best to make the most of every inch, and if you’re building out an island to get more space, this should factor into your design. Adding several shelves that can clear off other counter tops gets you even more new surface area to work with. 

Some designs even move a microwave off the counter and incorporate it into the island. If you can fill in the space underneath your new counter space with something useful, there’s no reason why that space should be wasted!

Use The Right Counter Surface

Depending on the look of the rest of your kitchen, the right counter surface can actually make the space feel more open. Light colors and reflective counters give the illusion of added space, even when you’re blocking out part of the normal open layout of the room. 

The other direction you can go in is to utilize warmer colors to embrace the closer feel of the room. Using a butcher block top or finished wood is a great way to make a tighter space feel cozy and welcoming.

Don’t Interrupt The Triangle

If you’ve thought about kitchen design before, chances are that you’ve heard about “the working triangle. This generally refers to the movement between three main points in the kitchen: the sink, refrigerator, and the stove. Going from one of these to the other should be uninterrupted and smooth for the sake of safety and ease when cooking. In tighter kitchens, islands can definitely make your triangle a bit hard to traverse. 

While it’s not a hard rule that you need to follow, consider how an island might permanently impact the flow of the room from one station to the next. One solution is to make your island a part of your triangle by incorporating a stovetop or sink.

Interior of a country style kitchen with an island, dining table and modern appliances in a residental home

Getting The Effect Without The Sacrifice

Finding the best way to get the usefulness of additional counter space without committing to one specific layout sounds like it’s wanting too much. Really though, it’s possible to get all of that benefit with one simple solution: a mobile island. 

Mobile islands can either be on wheels or simply a table that you can scoot around the room as you need it. This makes it easy enough to move it out of the way when you don’t need it, and bring it with you when you absolutely do!

Another benefit of having an island that you can move around is that your kitchen space can always feel fresh and lively. You can have it in the middle of the room as a focus point with a display, or up against the wall as a kind of minibar. Depending on your day to day needs, you can adjust however you want without the permanent decision many islands require.

The downside to this impermanence is that you cannot have the benefit of using it as a part of your triangle.

Talk To The Experts

When looking at measurements and designs, it’s not a bad idea to talk to those that do this kind of remodeling work regularly. The experts at Eagle Construction and Remodeling can measure out your kitchen, talk with you about expectations, and offer solid advice about moving forward with your design. Whether your space would benefit from a fully incorporated permanent island or a more mobile touch, Eagle Construction can give you a clear vision for moving forward. Give them a call and see what they can do for you!

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