I was so excited to get a kitchen island.
Our original kitchen had one 11-foot wall of cabinets and counter space. And a lot of that counter space was eaten by the sink and stove.
But my island would be uninterrupted work space.
The design process
I started my island design process with research and blue painters’ tape. I found that three feet is the standard amount of space designers recommend between an island and cabinets. So I taped out a big blue square in the middle of my kitchen that was three feet from my refrigerator and three feet from my wall of cabinets. For a week I walked around and worked around that thing. I adjusted the edges when I decided there needed to be more space between the island and the refrigerator. (While we have a new refrigerator, at some point, that refrigerator will have to be replaced and there needed to be enough room to move it out without tearing out the island).
And when my mom and I kept bumping into each other around the kitchen sink, I moved my tape six inches out.
How big should we go?
When it came to the size of the island, part of that was decided by our cabinets. We decided to build our island using two cabinets that matched the rest of the kitchen. One cabinet had drawers and one cabinet had a door. (I would have loved to have both cabinets full of drawers but the drawer cabinets were $200 more and we were already pushing our budget.)
The length of the island was going to be four feet – the width of the two base cabinets. With an overhang in back, it provided room for two seats and it also meant that the living room would be picking up about 2 feet of the old kitchen space.
For the seating, we found that a 12-inche overhang was pretty standard for seating. This made the island approximately 36 inches wide.
Let’s add storage
Then my husband came up with an idea: Let’s have more storage underneath the island for folding chairs. This meant a custom build behind the cabinets that was 12 inches deep. The made the island a four-foot square.
As I taped that out the plan, it was my turn for an idea: shelves. I wanted shelving in my island – some place to put my cookbooks and knickknacks. The logical place for that seemed to be on the side facing the living room. That added another eight inches to the length of the island. The only issue was that while the island was then longer, it wasn’t quite long enough to fit three chairs. So we made the shelves a foot deep, adding four more inches to the overall length for a total of five-feet long.
This made our island a whole lot bigger than I ever thought it would be, but it made sense to us. We weren’t just adding cabinets and a work surface – we added seating, storage and shelving. Honestly, I would have loved to have made the island even a bit longer to allow for more elbow room for the three seats, but it just wasn’t possible without taking away space from the living room or cutting back on the space between the refrigerator and island.
Let’s build it
My only concern before we started putting this together was that it might be too big for the space. But once everything was in, it really turned out perfect.
I’ll share more on the island building process in another post.