Double islands in kitchen?

kath0000May 6, 2013


We are getting closer to a final plan of our new home build and we are seriously thinking of doing a 2 island kitchen. Each would be about 4ft wide and about 6-10 feet long depending on the space. Does anyone have a kitchen with dual islands? Is it a pain to walk around one to get to the other. We are thinking the more distal one would have barstools and be more for eating breakfast (we have no chance to add a nook in this layout).

Any comments or thoughts are much appreciated! Kay

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I don't have one, but am considering one in our new build. I like the idea of one being a workhorse and the other with an eating area. Similar to the one in this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: double island

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:36PM
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We considered it, but decided against it because we didn't want our kitchen that large. I have seen it done extremely well several times, actually.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Here is our proposed layout. Our islands are not drawn to scale (or even to the proper shape). We have some "deadspace" between the kitchen and great room so we thought it may be a nice option.

I worry about:

1) the pain in the bottom factor of walking around the islands
2) the fact that we can't move it easily without some demo if we don't like it
3) that we can put a table in there instead for much cheaper, but then again that would not look quite as finished and would probably quickly become cluttered up with stuff...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:40PM
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It requires a kitchen the size of a small cottage to pull off successfully. (Not at all kidding about that.) You don't have the room for it. It's better to have one island done well than two done poorly. You DO have enough room to create a much better functioning kitchen than what's presented in that plan though. The primary offender is the cleanup sink on the island. It's taking up all of your working space. Make that into a prep sink and move the cleanup sink down to the counter by the stairs. That will help to separate cleanup and prep and increase the ability of the kitchen to serve multiple workers.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 7:57AM
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We have two islands. Our kitchen is 16x18, the outside island is 3.5x9.5 (with a foot hanging over the living room side) and the inside island is 4x7. Each side has 4' of walking space. It's essential that two people can comfortably walk by each other without having to turn your body.

Also, the prep sink is pretty essential so you don't have to walk around all the time. The set up works great for me, especially when DH is my sous chef - he mans the sink side while I work the stove side.

It doesn't bother me but one issue would be when I'm cooking alone and I need to move dirty dishes to the sink. So what I do is slide dishes across the island until I have a pile then walk around to put them in the sink and/or dishwashers. Same think when emptying the dishwashers.

We have our tableware dishes, drinking glass and silverware in the center island across from the dishwashers, so putting away those clean dishes is a snap.

Hope that info helps!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:08AM
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"we can put a table in there instead for much cheaper, but then again that would not look quite as finished and would probably quickly become cluttered up with stuff."

If you are prone to cluttering up a horizontal surface, it does not matter if that surface is a table or an island.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I realize that two islands may look more expensive and impressive to some folks, but having both an island where people can sit and gather around you as you work "and" a table where you can all gather around "face to face" is the most family friendly choice, imo.

And in my house, my counters gather more clutter than my kitchen table, but that's just us. :)

This post was edited by bird_lover6 on Tue, May 7, 13 at 10:50

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions! And great pix, kellyeng! The kitchen measures 22ft long (top of pix to bottom) and about 25 feet wide so I am not sure about the size being too small to put 2 4ft wide islands. As a matter of fact, I think there would be maybe too much space between islands, requiring a lot of walking to get from one to the other.

live_wire_oak, if I move the clean up sink closer to the stairs (with plans for the dishwasher on one side and trashes on the other), would I put the prep sink on the opposite side of the same island?

We were thinking of putting the prep sink on the outer island, closer to the fridge (by the stairs).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 12:44AM
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The prep sink needs to be in the PREP ZONE. THe far island isn't the prep zone. It is the furthest location from the prep zone. The prep zone is the area between water and fire and adjacent to storage.

I agree that "It's better to have one island done well than two done poorly".

You should post your design in the Kitchen Form for additional feedback.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:51AM
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This is only my opinion, but I find this new trend strange. I would much rather have a table instead of a 2nd island.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 1:29AM
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The plan looks to be a great house. In the great room there appears to be an architectural feature and then a table. Is this your dinng room? We have a similar setup in a 30x19 area; the kitchen is beyond it and is 14x17.

I like the islands. Have you looked on The site has excellent examples. Another consideration is to add a lower level to the primary island that is table height.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Does the kitchen "work triangle" mean anything to you?

One island, much less two islands, often transforms the triangle into a highly complex, elongated rhomboid!

Hope you have good ankles and like to walk.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Don't knock until you try it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Thanks K. I like where you live--we have a daughter and grand-kids there.

As to kitchens and islands, I have tried it, designed and used it. Many times. The old concept of a kitchen "work triangle" is as beneficial today as many years ago with the term was originated.

Everyone has their own personal preference. Newbies, however, may not be so experienced, and may get carried away from watching TV or looking at picture books. For every design and building decision there are consequences..

Good luck on the OP's project.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:55PM
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I love what I can see of your plan! Looks like a beautiful house.

At 25', you have plenty of room for 2 large islands, or for 1 island and 1 table, with minimum 48" walkways.

Where is your main dining area? In the great room? Is this your only dining area? If so, I think having either a table or a second island in the kitchen is a good idea. I might opt for a table or a lowered island, so that you can have multiple-height surfaces to work on. Sometimes you need that, depending on what you're cooking.

We too have a tendency to clutter all horizontal surfaces, and LuAnn is correct - table or counter, won't matter. The difference would be additional chairs in the way, as a table usually has chairs on 2 or more sides, and an island usually only on 1 side.

The location of the prep zone is really dependent upon how you cook. To me, the prep zone is between the refrigerator and the cooktop. Having to walk far to the fridge to get out ingredients for prepping and then hauling them back to the prep sink, or even worse walking around a barrier island to get there, would be worse for me than walking an extra distance to the stove. Ideally you want your clean-up sink out of the prep zone, like kellyeng's kitchen, and close to the dining spot.

This post was edited by jenswrens on Thu, May 9, 13 at 21:31

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Thanks for the excellent suggestions. Yes, our "great room" is a dining room and living room. We are one of the few American families who use the dining room every day for dinner and often for lunch. We don't eat by the TV or really in the kitchen even now (we have a breakfast table that we never use. So that is why I am hesitant to put a table there.

I am thinking another island will allow us more badly needed cabinet space and quite possibly another small sink so kids can walk up to the fridge, take out a fruit and wash it.

We spoke to our architect today and he seemed to be as torn about the double island as we are. I did go on line to last night, motherof3sons, (OMG that site is amazing!) and got some great ideas of dual island kitchens vs just one larger one.

After much detabe, we are leaning towards having a professional kitchen designer consult and give us some more suggestions. We really want to get this right and figure it's best to let someone really "study" our personal lifestyle (casual, preteen kids, etc) and help us decide what might work best. The architect is suggesting putting the island IN for the bid and then we can always eliminate it quickly later on.

Thanks for the kind comments about the floorplan. We are still making some (minor) changes but I will be sure to post the layout as soon as it's ready for comments.

I am happy to receive criticism or suggestions. We don't really know what we are doing when it comes to kitchen layouts, which is why we are relying on our architect and others to help us navigate this important part of the house.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:40PM
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We are finalizing our kitchen design and have debated double islands for our long, but relatively narrow space. In the end we ended pushing the short end of one island down to the wall making it a peninsula and kept the other island parallel to the peninsula. So, no longer a double islands, but close. Sometimes the double islands allows for good flow, but it is not right for that many kitchens. I am much happier to have passage between the peninsula and island rather than one gigantic island.

Good luck with your design.

This post was edited by OntarioMom on Fri, May 10, 13 at 17:49

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:03PM
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We've looked at the peninsula idea too, or a u-shaped kitchen. Just can't make it work for the space given the need to enter the kitchen from 3 of the 4 sides.

OntarioMom, do you have pix? I'd love to see yours.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Daughter of a friend had a very expansive home and a kitchen with 2 islands. I really didn't like it and I noticed how much mileage she was putting on just trying to operate as we gathered around the far island and she was doing laps around the rest of the kitchen to bring drinks and such. On top of it, the island was bar height which I hate. Being vertically challenged, if I manage to skootch up onto a bar stool, I can't move it at all to get comfortable at the bar as my feet are nowhere near the ground. Our current island is counter height and at least I have a chance at sliding into position once I'm on the chair.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:06PM
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Hi kath0000,

We have not ordered cabinets yet, still using what remains of our original kitchen after the addition was framed in. Here is a plan that we are still tweaking. It seems to be a different shape than yours. This version is probably our 50th version of kitchen design. Most of the earlier versions were double island designs.

Good luck with your plan!


Here is the exterior wall in an elevation picture

Here is the floor plan that needs updating to include second window shown on exterior wall. It was the most up to date plan I have on photobucket but it will give you an idea.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Ontariomom, your two islands really function as one island with a break or pass through in the middle. They're not two lengthy islands running parallel to one another that you will have to walk around. It looks very nice to me. :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Thanks bird_lover6 for your comments! We have really struggled with this aspect of our addition design. LIke the OP our kitchen can be entered from many sides.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Kath0000, perhaps something with feet or lockable wheels, more utilitarian than a table but not as bulky and permanent as a built-in island.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:56AM
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