Many kitchen remodel projects involve the consideration of an Island. The existing space may be large enough to accommodate an Island or there may be modifications that can be accomplished to get you the Island into the plan. Removing a portion of wall, an entire wall or adding or closing a doorway or window may make the Island possible.

Kitchen Island at Great Room
Kitchen Island at Great Room

When considering the addition of an Island or the modification of existing space to create an Island there are several factors to consider.

Maximum size of Island possible?

To find the maximum size of your Island you will need to have several measurements considered. The first step is to measure the overall space of the kitchen and adjoining space. Laying out cabinets into the space along the walls gives a good basis for consideration.

Next you will need to consider clearances for appliances. Refrigerators with center split doors require less clearance than single swing doors.

The minimum clearance between large appliances and wall cabinets should not be less than the doorway to the kitchen, usually 30 inches. Many areas have City or County Code requirements of 36 to 42 inches for walkways. Draw out on paper these measurements or tape off the floor to establish the island limits.

Electrical and plumbing requirements?

Most Islands will require electrical outlets for portable appliances and food preparation. The ability to plug in a blender or waffle iron at the Island makes for a better family experience.

If a prep sink, standard sink or dishwasher is to be located at the island you will require electrical as well as water supply and drainage and venting. For raised foundation homes this may be a much easier task than for a slab foundation home.

Clearance around Island?

The clearance around an Island is different than the minimum requirements. Clearance around the island will be a greater space requirement. Perhaps you will have a main walkway that has a refrigerator or dishwasher that can obstruct the walkway. With the door(s) open you may want to have space for a person to walk past without being inhibited.

Use of Island. Will it have seating locations?

Many Islands have wider counter tops than the cabinet space below. There may be a portion of wall, usually about five inches thick, extra deep or two sided cabinets, or an area for serving food or seating. For seating you will want approximately nine inches or more for a seat and clearance to prevent knees from hitting on the Island back.


Lighting at an Island performs two functions. First you will want sufficient lighting to illuminate the work surface. Secondly the lighting fixtures may be a Pendant type that adds character and directed illumination to the area.

Add Island to Kitchen

Adding an Island requires more space than most projects can accommodate. By making careful measurements and planning the space properly you can end up with exactly the performance and look that fulfills your desires.