How Much Space Should Be Between A Kitchen Island And Counters?

Kitchen renovations are rarely an easy job. There’s so much to consider it can give you a headache. Let’s say you’ve decided it’s time to add a kitchen island to liven up your kitchen. Unless you already have a ton of space, it won’t be an easy addition. If you’re wondering how much space there should be between a kitchen island and the counter, let’s find out! 

Regarding spacing, there are no mandatory building codes that you have to abide by. However, many recommend setting space aside for specific situations. For this reason, there should be 42-48 inches of space between the kitchen counter and kitchen island. It enables a steady amount of movement for kitchen traffic. 

Now that you know the spacing isn’t mandatory, you might want to learn why many recommend 42-48 inches of spacing. Additionally, you might want to know other information like the ideal size of a kitchen to accommodate a kitchen island. You don’t want to invest in something only to find out it’s not compatible with your kitchen. So, if you’re ready to take a deep dive, keep reading ahead. 

Is My Kitchen Big Enough for an Island? 

Large vent hood and island in kitchen

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Of course, before we get down to spacing between the counter and the kitchen island, it’s crucial that you find out if there’s enough space in the first place. After all, is a kitchen island going to be a good addition if it cramps your kitchen more?

You’ll be stressing even more in events where you need to have more than one cook or when there are others around the island. For this reason, it’s crucial to get the specifics before you embark on a new project. 

It depends on the kind of island that you choose. Not all kitchen islands are built the same. Some will be large. And others will fit well enough in a small kitchen. 


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Standard size for a kitchen island, How Much Space Should Be Between A Kitchen Island And Counters?

The standard size for a kitchen island is around 40 inches by 80 inches. These dimensions give you enough room for prep work like cutting, kneading dough, or cleaning produce. If you’d like, it can also hold an 18-inch sink. For some, this is an ideal workspace to liven up and improve the kitchen. 

However, some recommend at least 150 square feet of kitchen space to accommodate a kitchen island comfortably. If you want more clarification, comfortably used here means you won’t face crowding problems if more than two cooks share space or guests are seated at the island.

It raises another question that you must ask yourself. Do you intend to install a kitchen island for prep work or as a seating area? Finding out which suits your situation will narrow down the choices in your search for a kitchen island. 

Small Kitchens

White kitchen with smaller island and stainless steel appliances

Of course, some kitchens may be smaller than 150 square feet. It doesn’t mean your search for a kitchen island is over. The minimum size for a kitchen island is around 40 inches by 40 inches. It’s a small area. Still, it serves as a practical workspace to accomplish most activities you would want. 


In addition to the sizing, you want to make sure it leaves around 42-48 inches of space between the counter. To get specific, 42 inches of space should be enough for a one cook kitchen. When more than one person is cooking, 48 inches of space is ample room to reduce traffic. So, if you’re planning to install a kitchen island, take notes on how often people cook.

Additionally, take notes on the appliances you have in the kitchen. Do you have a dishwasher? They tend to open downward. So, if someone isn’t paying attention, they risk the potential to trip and fall. 

What Is the Best Size for a Kitchen Island?

Large family kitchen in period conversion house

Again, the answer to this question is dependent on the size of your kitchen. If you want to get a custom kitchen island to fit a small kitchen, the minimum dimensions should be at least 40 inches by 40 inches. These dimensions are adequate for a workspace. It can also accommodate some appliances if that’s what you want. 

Another crucial aspect to consider, the best size for a kitchen island allows 42-48 inches of space between the counter. Regarding walkway space, it would hover around the same amount. If it’s near a work area, a minimum of 42 inches of space is recommended. 

If it’s elsewhere, like the walkway near an entrance, it can be as little as 36 inches of space. You will need more if you plan on having seating around the kitchen island. 

Should a Kitchen Island Be the Same Height As the Counter?

White kitchen design features large bar style kitchen island with granite countertop

Another aspect that comes to mind is the height of the kitchen island. It might worry you that it will stand taller than the counter.

But, the standard height for a kitchen counter is 36 inches. The standard height of kitchen islands is the same. If you’re worried they won’t match, in most cases, they will. 

Still, you might have another type of kitchen island in mind. In this case, is a matching height a requirement? No, it’s not. There are some advantages to having an island with matching height and one that is taller. Likewise, there are disadvantages to both. 

Pros and Cons

For example, you might want to go for a kitchen island that is barstool height. This type stands at 42 inches tall. From here, it can stand as a divider to separate your kitchen from the rest of your home. Though, this advantage applies more to open floor plans. 

Otherwise, it can also serve as a way to draw attention away from dirty dishes or clutter near the counter or sink. However, it might come at a disadvantage for short people, the elderly, and others with disabilities. They can find it hard to use raised seating. 

Regarding a counter-height kitchen island, it serves as a highlight for the rest of the kitchen. It can give the illusion that your kitchen is larger than it is. If you plan on having seating around, it can accommodate anyone ranging from kids to the elderly. 

Are Kitchen Islands Going Out of Style?

White kitchen island with lots of storage

The next concern comes in the topic of trends. Why would you install something if it’s going out of style? Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want. But, it’s an indicator if it adds any value to your home. 

According to one 2017 trend study, millennial homeowners are more likely to install kitchen islands. Additionally, a 2021 NKBA report indicates larger kitchen islands will dominate kitchen layouts. In other words, there’s still a demand for them. If the added value is one of your concerns, kitchen islands don’t seem to be going anywhere! 

Does a Kitchen Island Add Value?

Of course, we come to the topic of value. Will a kitchen island add more value to your home? It will be pleasing to know that it does! As some suggest, an addition of a kitchen island can allow you to recoup around 78% of the cost when you sell the home. 

When you consider the price to install a kitchen island, they offer one of the better returns of investments than other projects. The reason being that it’s more than a simple addition to the view. It offers more counter space, additional storage, more room for appliances, a study area for kids, and more. That’s all in addition to the visual appeal. 

What Is the Difference Between a Kitchen Island and a Peninsula?

Three pendant lights hang over kitchen island surrounded by dark brown hardwood floors

On your search for kitchen renovations, you might have run across the idea of adding a kitchen peninsula. However, you might need more information to know the differences between a kitchen peninsula and a kitchen island. They work in the same fashion. Both add more counter space to the kitchen.

Newly remodeled kitchen interior with cork floors maple cabinets and glass tile

The difference lies in the implementation. A peninsula is an extension of existing cabinets and counters. On the other hand, a kitchen island is a free-standing installation with space around it. 

Additionally, kitchen peninsulas are more specific for providing seating and serving space. It works better for kitchens that don’t have enough room to accommodate heavy traffic. So, if you’re in a situation where there’s more than one cook, a kitchen peninsula won’t impede the workflow. 

They both serve a purpose. But, one will work better for your situation depending on several variables. So, if you to add more space, it’s crucial to consider all your options. 

Final Takeaway

A modern kitchen interior design with island, How Much Space Should Be Between A Kitchen Island And Counters?

Kitchen renovations can make or break a kitchen. Regarding kitchen islands, they can add more utility to the kitchen than simple visual appeal. However, it won’t be of use if you don’t provide adequate spacing. We hope you found the information above insightful. 

Before you go, do you have other kitchen island concerns? Are you wondering how to secure a kitchen island to the floor? You can find out more by checking out our post here

Do you want more information on the differences between a kitchen island and a breakfast bar? We cover the topic in depth. To find out more, check out our post here. Until next time!

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