Should You Put an Island in Your Small Kitchen? Here are Some Examples

Most properties in London tend to be quite compact. Installing a kitchen island in the middle of a small kitchen may seem impractical but it all depends on how the island is going to be used and how busy your kitchen gets.

A kitchen island can serve multiple purposes, such as seating guests – but in a small kitchen, this is would be out of the question. It’s often seen as the heart of a kitchen, and even the ultimate kitchen status symbol, but there are practical issues to bear in mind.

Still, brands like Overstock sell plenty of compact kitchen islands, suggesting they’re quite popular.

So let’s discuss how small is small, when it’s okay & when it’s not okay to consider a kitchen island for a small kitchen.

How small is small?

If you’ve got a slim kitchen, in a flat, or a space that’s only really practical for no more than 2 adults, an island won’t be ideal.

You should have approx. 40 to 50 inches of space around your island so you can comfortable get around.

See this picture for instance…

This is a photo taken by Sckitterphoto on Pexels. It’s not one of our kitchens, but we’ll use it as an example.

Although the space seems deceptively large, there’s a pillar (see arrow in red) that could make it difficult to move around the whole kitchen island, if something was placed in the centre.

However, this kitchen does have quite a good amount of worktop space and room for a table in the bottom right corner. As tempting as an island might be, it might not make sense in this kitchen.

Let’s look at another example.

We installed this kitchen island for a customer of ours in Richmond, London.

The worktop space isn’t as large and the kitchen isn’t as long as the first picture.

However, the kitchen island fits quite snug in the middle. There’s plenty of space to walk around.

One adult can move around with ease. In fact, there’s even space for 2 to 3 adults to move around.

It might still be okay even if the kitchen was smaller, but then the seats would need to go & the worktop might need trimming.

When it’s okay

To put it simply – it’s okay if the island is there to assist you, such as while cooking.

If you’re cooking with large items and making complicated meals that require different utensils, an island will be incredibly useful. It’ll offer that extra worktop space.

If seating is important, then it’s okay if you don’t mind large chairs.

With this island for instance, there are stools instead of chairs with backrests. These can be very practical when it comes to space saving & ease of movement.

When it’s not okay

Even if there’s enough space for a small island, it might not make practical sense if you’ve got small children or guests coming over regularly.

It’s also not great if you’re not 100% certain but looking at options that involve permanent fixtures.

The last thing you’d want is a permanently fixed island that is actually quite impractical for your lifestyle.

How to find out if it’s worth it

The general rule of thumb is that a kitchen island should be no smaller than 40 inches in length. That’s roughly 1 metre.

In terms of width, you could go for something as small as 20 inches (50cm) but any smaller than that and things become impractical.

Before buying or installing anything, one simple method is to use a tape measure & masking tape to outline where the island would be. While it won’t give you an idea of the island’s height, you’ll be able to see whether you’ve got enough space to walk around.

It’s incredibly easy to underestimate how much space we actually need to walk around freely.

At this point, if you’re still 100% sure about installing a permanently fixed island but you want to try one anyway, one option could be to purchase a small island with wheels. There are plenty of options on sites like Overstock.

If you realise it’s not worth it in the long run, the hassle of removing it won’t be as great as the hassle of removing a permanently fixed island.

Still not sure if an island is right for you?

We’d be happy to help. At Zen Kuchen, we’ve got over 50 years’ combined experience designing & fitting kitchens in & around London.

If you’re stuck, you’re welcome to give us a call, message us or book an appointment with one of our expert designers.

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