Determine your clearance zone. When clients ask if they have room for an island, we designers must consider factors such as how many people live in the house and how they use the space. But first and foremost, we need to know the size of the room.
I recently heard a story about a homeowner who had a major design regret. During a previous renovation, she elected to put all four counter stools on the same side of her kitchen island, a frequent spot for her family meals. This left her with a beautiful look but turned out to be an unfortunate mistake from a functional perspective. That’s because she now has to choose between having everyone in her family face in one direction like strangers in a diner and having to pull around a stool to sit on the wrong side of the island, with her knees bumping up against cabinets for the sake of family bonding.
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A good general rule for enclosed kitchens is to place it in the center of the room. That way it’s equally accessible from all sides and won’t be an obstacle for people walking through. That placement might not work best for all kitchens, however. A perimeter island, for example, might work better with open floor plans. Size and shape are also determined by room’s layout; Allow for at least 36-48 inches between the perimeter of the island and the surrounding cabinets so there’s enough room for people to move around.
Custom design to the space. In this kitchen-dining area the owners have managed to fit in quite a roomy island. The L-shaped footprint of the cabinets to the left could have presented a problem, as there might not have been enough room to pass between the “wall” and the island. To overcome this, the designers cut a corner off the island’s tabletop to provide easier access.
Stow storage in the surface. This overhanging countertop is super clever. Not only does it create a seating space, but it contains three nifty drawers too. But it gets better — a simple partition creates storage for glasses above the built-in wine cooler.