Kitchen Island Space and Sizing Guide

Kitchen Islands offer more space for cooking, cleaning, and preparing food, along with additional storage and cabinets to store cookware. When adding a large object like an Island to your kitchen, you need to consider the space available.

A poorly placed cooktop on the island can make cooking difficult. The island’s placement of the cooktops can make it difficult to prepare meals, while poorly placed outlets could violate code. Learn how to design, space, and place your Kitchen Island, including its peripheral services.


Give your island cabinets a unique finish, and top it with a countertop that is different. This will add visual interest to the design.

Kitchen Island Dimensions and Space

A island kitchen shouldn’t take up more than 10% of the total kitchen space. The kitchen island should not be too large. It will dominate the space, make it hard to move around, and create a visual distraction.

If, for example, the kitchen island measures 4 feet by 7 foot (28 square feet) but the kitchen is 10 feet by thirteen feet (130 sq. ft.), then it is too big. In this example, the island takes up more than 20 percent of the total kitchen space.

It is simple: Reduce the size of your kitchen island to two feet from four feet. The islands that are 4 feet wide are rarer than those 2 feet wide. A proper island size for this area would be between 13 and 14 square feet.


Plan your island using the kitchen triangle concept. Triangles have three points: the refrigerator, the sink and the cooktop. The legs should not be shorter or longer than 4 feet. The triangle in the kitchen is designed to maximize efficiency and promote easy workflow.

A kitchen island must be at least as large as two base cabinets. This is approximately 4 feet by 2 feet (27 inches). The majority of kitchen islands are constructed from semi-custom or stock kitchen cabinet bases.

Place a small, temporary table in your kitchen island space to experiment with the size. Tape cardboard to the surface of the table to expand it visually to match the size of your intended island. Place books under the four legs of the table to elevate it to 36 inches in height for standard kitchen island and 42 inches in height for sitting/eating kitchen islands. You can also use large cardboard boxes to simulate the mass and size of a kitchen isle.

Kitchen Island Stove and Cooktop Planning

If the main cooking area is occupied, a stove or cooktop on or in the island will give you more working space, extra burners and an alternate cooking area. Not only do centralized stoves make the kitchen more social, but they also create an atmosphere that is conducive to conversation.

This back and forth across the aisle can frustrate some cooks who are used to a tight. Some cooks may be frustrated by this back and forth across the aisle. They are used to a classic triangle-shaped work area that includes the sink, counter, and stove.

A kitchen island with a cooktop is a good option for such cooks. The primary stove will still be in the countertop area.

Electrical or gas lines for island cooktops and stoves must be brought from the floor through the crawlspace. If your house is built on top of a concrete slab then the slab must be removed and the pipes installed under it.

Kitchen Island Hood and Exhaust Planning

Smoke detectors and burning food can seriously ruin the experience of cooking, as well as eating. Add an exhaust fan or hood to the primary cooking area along the perimeter. A vent is used to exhaust smoke and cooking smells outside, either through the side wall or the roof.

The kitchen islands do not have easy access to electrical power or venting because they are not near walls. Ventilation can be done either upwards or downwards.

Kitchen Island Upward Venting

In kitchen islands, hoods are often installed over stoves and cooktops. The hood is mounted on the ceiling. The vent can continue straight up to the roof, or turn and go in a different direction. Attics are also where electrical power lines run.

Ventilating upward is the most practical option because smoke and steam tend to rise. You will be stuck with a vent and hood in the middle.

Kitchen Island Downward Venting

Smoke and odors may be vented downward when island upward venting cannot or is not desired.

Some cooktops have a grates in the stove near the burners that pulls smoke down, and then out through a vent running through the crawlspace.

The aesthetics of downward venting on a cooktop are best, since the hood is not hanging over the area where you’re cooking. However, downward venting rarely is as effective as up-ward venting. If you plan to use your island cooktop rarely, it may be better for you to vent downward.

Kitchen Island Receptacles

On kitchen islands, receptacles do not need to be installed. The National Electrical Code (NEC), when receptacles on kitchen islands are installed, requires that each outlet serving the countertop be GFCI protected.

Every 18 square feet above the initial 9 must also have an outlet. A 45-square foot countertop is required to have at least three outlets.

Kitchen Island Storage Space

Kitchen islands make great storage spaces. Kitchen base cabinets can be shelved or open on the inside.

Add drawers, slide-outs, lazy-susans and shelves to maximize this island’s storage space.

In general, the larger the space is, the less useful it is as storage. You may want to hire a carpenter if you don’t have any woodworking experience. They can build shelves, drawers and sliders. You can also buy semi-custom cabinets to fit your needs.

Pairing Kitchen Islands with Freestanding Kitchen Islands

Think outside the box if your island kitchen doesn’t have enough space.

A quick fix is to replace the permanent island in your kitchen with a rolling or tabletop kitchen island. You get the extra counterspace you need, with a plan to escape. You can move the island to another area of the kitchen, or even the rest of the home if you decide you do not like it.


When both counter surfaces of the islands are flat, they pair well with freestanding islands. You can measure the height in person with a measuring tape or online.

Each surface should have a unique value. A freestanding island equipped with a large butcher’s block could be used exclusively for cutting meat and vegetables.

The permanent island will typically give you two additional electrical outlets. This permanent island usually comes with two additional outlets. These are required by the electrical codes.