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Kitchen Island Planning Guide: Space, Sinks, Cooktops, and More

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Most People Over-Size Their Islands. Don’t Do That!

If you’ve got ample floor space in your kitchen, it’s not a bad idea to add a kitchen island. They can add 25% or more counter and cabinet space, give you more electrical outlets, and often more sink options. But many homeowners get so caught up in the excitement of having a kitchen island that they end up oversizing it. The island visually overwhelms the kitchen’s true work area.

The Ten-Percent Rule

Your island should be no more than 10% of the total square footage of your kitchen. Any more than that and the island will dominate the kitchen and make it difficult to maneuver. For example, the kitchen shown in the accompanying image is 10 feet by 13 feet (130 square feet). Its island is 4 feet by 7 feet (28 square feet). So, about 10% of the kitchen is used for the island.

Experiment by placing a table in the space for 2-3 days, and see how it feels. However, if you are planning to have large appliances or services (downdraft cooktop or a sink), bigger is definitely better.

Provide Vent and Hood (Exhaust) For Your Kitchen Island Cooktop

Ever burned something while cooking? Then you know that if you have a stove, you need an exhaust. With an island, you do not have the usual option of an exhaust hood against the wall (with the vapors drawn straight out a hole in the wall). You have two choices, either up or down.

Up and Out: Higher-end stove installations in islands hang a hood over the stove, with the smoke being drawn straight up a tube and out of the house. Because of smoke and steam rise, the “up and out” overhead hood option tends to be the best from a functional standpoint. The downside is that you have a hood and vent in the middle of the room.
Down and Out: With some cooktops, a grate in the stove next to the burners sucks the smoke straight down, and then out of the house through the crawlspace. “Out” is never an option, since most building codes require that residential kitchen exhaust be vented clear to the outside.