If there’s one element that just screams luxury in a kitchen, it’s the island feature. More space for working and storage with a little bar where you can eat or a friend can sit and chat with you while you cook. It’s the dream. But while kitchen islands are a dream, in some cases they are the impossible dream. Kitchen islands are great if you have the right kind of space for it. If you don’t, however, you’re not going to relish the reality.

What Does Your Kitchen Need For An Island?

Space. Lots and lots of space. It’s because of this need for space that installing a kitchen island in your current kitchen might not be possible. Wait, wait, wait. You must be thinking. How much space are we talking exactly? Cause if there’s one thing I can do it is make it work. Well, if you want to maintain (or even increase) the function and flow of your kitchen, a kitchen island requires at least 42” of clearance on all sides. That’s just under four feet of space between island and counters/appliances one all four sides. Then you account for the actual dimensions of the island itself. What features are you adding to the island? A cooktop or sink on top? Extra garbage can, dishwasher, second oven, or wine fridge underneath? A bar and stools for eating on the one end? The average size of a kitchen island is 3’ x 6 ½’ and it’s recommended that they be no smaller than 2’ x 4’.

So let’s compromise on the clearance of the island. Problem solved. Sure. If you enjoy traffic jams when more than one person is in the kitchen at a time. You don’t want to cut down on space in the attempt to create more space. Knock out a wall! Dude. Just let it go. Of course you’re welcome to move some walls around in order to accommodate the epitome of kitchen luxury. But if any of those walls contain plumbing, gas or electrics you’re looking at a major kitchen remodel that may not recoup what you end up spending.

What’s The Solution?

Glad you asked. Your contractor will be able to guide you in just the right direction for what works with your budget as well as the space you already have. If you really like the idea of a work or eating space, a peninsula added to the end of one section of counter space can provide a cozy little area for eating, working, or visiting with friends.

If you want a little extra storage or counter space, think creatively with custom cabinetry. Deepen your counters and cabinets. Install sliding shelves in the lower cabinets and a Lazy Susan in the corner section so all items are easy to access and use. Racks on the insides of cabinet doors add more space for spices or lids and large utensils. Whatever the problem, your contractor will be able to find the right solution for you.

So Where Do These Islands Work?

Seeing as the kitchen island needs a lot of space, its best in a room with tons of space, such as an open floor plan. In fact, almost all open kitchens are equipped with an island. The most efficient layout for a kitchen involves situating your major appliances (fridge, oven/stove, sink/dishwasher) in a triangle formation of some sort. Islands are perfect for housing the sink and dishwasher, or the cooking range and oven. Not only do they create a space for the triangle setup (as well as additional counter space for meal prep and service), but they also give a little structure to your open plan with a clear definition of where the kitchen is without boxing it in and closing the chef off to the rest of the house. Best of all, in an open floor plan, you really only need your 4’ clearance on one or two (maybe three) sides, so the size of your island isn’t as limited.

Whether you can fit an island in your kitchen or not doesn’t mean you lose the game of extra space and luxury. You can have the best of both worlds in any kitchen with the right team and vision. So go ahead. Make that kitchen of your dreams into reality.