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Adding an Island to Your Existing Kitchen


Just over a year ago, we added a kitchen island to our "existing" kitchen layout... meaning we didn't change anything else about our kitchen layout besides putting an island smack dap in the middle of it. It was the best thing we did for our kitchen (in our opinion) and in reality, most kitchens can accommodate an island, even if they don't have one!

The question often is... "How do I know if my kitchen can accommodate an island and if so, what size, what style and how do I even begin to figure all of that out?" Well, let's dive into that, shall we? Here are three tips that will help you decide if your kitchen should have an island, and if so, what size and what style you should get.

1. Clearances

This is the easiest way to figure out what size island your space can accommodate. Rule of thumb, you want anywhere between two and half to four feet of space around ALL sides of the island. Minimum would be two and half feet - our island has about 30 inches of space around it on each side. Keep in mind though, we have a smaller kitchen, so we can get away with having a smaller clearance. If you have a larger kitchen, you may want to bump up that clearance space.

Another thing to ALWAYS consider with clearances around an island are appliances. Let me repeat that - think about your appliances. You need to be able to open all the appliances without hitting the island... think about your oven or dishwasher (sometimes even your refrigerator/freezer). Make sure to also take into consideration if you have to stand behind the appliance to opening it - if so, you'll need to make sure there's enough room for the appliance to open AND room for you to stand behind it.

Here's a simple diagram for you

(since I know that some people need a visual!)

2. Seating vs. No Seating

This one seems like it would be an easy decision - yes, we want people to sit at the island or... no we don't. Well, let's go back to clearances for a quick second! It's ultimately your decision whether you want to be able to host people at your island but make sure where ever the stools are going to end up, that there is enough walking clearance. You want your guests to be comfortable while sitting at the island and not worry about someone accessing the refrigerator and bumping them... or walking past the stools and bumping them. Just because the bar stools fit nicely next to or under the island, doesn't mean that a "body" will fit comfortably there. Ya feel me?

3. Height

Height isn't as important as number one or two, but regardless, it's still important. My rule? Never make the island height taller than the perimeter (existing) countertops. Seems like a no brainer, but I feel the need to put it out there. The exception to this would be a two-tier island - kind of like a breakfast bar situation (or check out that pull out island that I sourced below!!) Even so... that would be a very rare and specific occasion - so it's best to just keep the island countertop and the same height as the existing countertops. Most pre-fab island are going to be standard countertop height (36") so you won't have to worry about that - unless you're having one custom built (like we did) and I had to specify the height.

If you're thinking about adding an island to your kitchen - here are a few of my favorites to inspire you! Seriously though, this one is my FAVORITE - it's pricey but if I had room for it, I would love to have an island like this one... it's so versatile!

One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven // Eight // Nine // Ten // Eleven // Twelve // Thirteen //

*the last one is from Crate & Barrel but Target makes a GREAT dupe for $150!!*


I hope these three simple tips were helpful! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Talk soon,




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