Anyone do away with their kitchen table and extend their island??

maryellenrMarch 22, 2010

Hi..First time posting but I have to say I have gotten so many wonderful pieces of advice for my new kitchen reno that I am about to start. Just ordered my Shiloh cabinets on Friday.

I have had a brain storm, and was wondering if anybody else opted for this idea, if so - any pictures or advice/information would be awesome!

I have an island that is 50" and I want to extend it to seat 4 or 5 people (thinking of lowering it a bit as well). We are also putting in a snack bar, so I am not worried about the table space, per say, but wanted to get any opinions I could on this.

I have picked out a Maple cabinet in Acorn with a Black Glaze. Haven't decided on the countertops yet. Any suggestions? We have hardwood floors that will be refinished to compliment the colors chosen. Backsplash ideas are a tumbled stone with a copper 2x2 accent piece - but nothing ordered thus far. So many decisions - crazy! Help me - I feel as if this is starting to consume my every minute of everyday.

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Large islands are "in" right now. I hadn't actually been able to draw one that I liked for my own kitchen, but I posted my floor plan here and got an interesting possibility. You might try drawing it out and see what feedback you get.

You can see it in the thread titled "Repost: Kitchen layout feedback, please."


    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 10:55PM
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I wanted ... I really wanted an island.

But it was not the best option for our family. We had to
figure out how we use our space and make practical
choices. And somehow the table was a good choice
for our family.
My oldest uses the nook every day for hw. I use
the nook to have my cupofjoe and read the paper. I rarely
sit at the counter. However the 2 other kids sit at the
counter every night. It was a compromise that works for

Is it as pretty as an island? No but it works and looks
pretty in it's own way. If you find you never use your
breakf,ast ta,ble then get a giant island. Make your kitchen
practical for you.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:07AM
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yep and it was the BEST decision we made! We have so much more functioning space now. We started with a typical 1980s kitchen with a peninsula. We removed the peninsula and moved the sink. I worked hard at planning my appliance placement first, then let the shape of the island evolve. It ended up being an "L" shape and we couldn't be happier. We now have ample seating for 8. It works really really well for us - seating, flow, and workspace.

Here is the before when we first bought the house (the kitchen had an attached breakfast nook on the other side of the peninsula) and after:

1 Like    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:50AM
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We are putting an island in our kitchen and are eliminating our table. Instead of having the island at a single level, we are dropping the table-portion of the island to table height (30").

1 Like    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:50AM
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that is lovely. I wish I had the space to do that.
My kitchen is half your size. :(

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 11:49AM
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lagrant, you can't even believe that those 2 are the same kitchen! I've used your island as inspiration for our island; so, thanks for posting. It's beautiful. I hope ours turns out as nice.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 12:12PM
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The first question I'd ask: is this your only eating space? If it is, then I'd really caution against island seating. I have a friend who has that and it's very limiting. If you have a dining room, then I'd echo what others have said to look at what's best for your family and space.

I love having a kitchen table and wouldn't give it up, although after looking at lagrant's amazing kitchen island, I could probably have been convinced!

Good luck-

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 12:22PM
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thanks :). This forum was invaluable to me as I navigated thru the kitchen and bath reno process. I could not have done it without the help of those before me that contributed so I feel very obligated to respond to others when I can. Glad it helps!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 12:45PM
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I saw one kitchen where they butted the end of a table up next to an island, effectively extending it for eating purposes but still keeping the look of a separate piece of furniture.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 12:56PM
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Great island Lagrant! I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use your island to point out to the OP what to consider if she goes forward with this idea...your island shows how it can be done right!

Considerations: For younger and older people, seating higher than table-height can be uncomfortable If seating is all in a row, then it is not very conducive for conversation, you'll be sitting "like ducks in a row". Notice Lagrant's has seating on 3 sides...much more people-friendly than most islands I see out there. It really looks like a giant table w/a sink at the end with the advantage of extra storage and a wonderfully large expanse of workspace for large projects and at a nice working height. Keep in mind that if you lower the seating side, it has the same negative effect on workspace, etc. that raising the seating eliminates that nice expanse of workspace I mentioned above. To me, more than one level actually negates the positive benefits. To mitigate the negative impact of more than one level, try to keep the seating on one end...sort of like a table attached to the island. The other end of the island would then give you that wonderful expanse of workspace. If you plan to eat meals at the island, do not put your Cleanup Zone (i.e., main/cleanup sink & DW) in the island near the seats... Even more importantly, don't put your Cooking Zone (i.e., cooktop/range) in the island anywhere near the seats either (actually, don't put your cooktop/range anywhere in the island!) Again, notice the relationship b/w the sink & seats in Lagrant's island...the sink is on one end and the seating is on the one is looking directly into a sink full of dirty dishes and no one has dirty dishes looming over them while eating! Do you have a DR or other table space elsewhere? If not, I would not eliminate your table. Family meals are more "intimate" at a table than sitting at an island, especially "special" family gatherings such as birthdays, holiday dinners, etc. If this will be your primary seating, I very, very strongly advise you to meet or exceed the NKBA Guidelines for seating space...including linear space and overhang and aisle space around the seats!

NKBA Guidelines:

  • Overhang [Guideline 9: Seating Clearance]

    • 30" high tables/counters ("table-height"): 18" overhang

      Allow a 24" wide x 18" deep knee space for each seated diner and at least 18" of clear knee space

  • 36" high counters ("counter-height"): 15" overhang

    Allow a 24" wide x 15" deep knee space for each seated diner and at least 15" of clear knee space.

  • 42" high counters ("bar-height"): 12" overhang

    Allow a 24" wide x 12" deep knee space for each seated diner and 12" of clear knee space.

  • Remember: These are minimums
  • Seating/linear space (an extension of the above)

    • 24" per seat (2 feet). So, for two people, you need at least 48" or 4 feet. For 8 people, you need at least 16 feet (8 people x 2')

    • If...

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 1:23PM
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Thanks, Buehl - you really hit on a lot of important points we considered when moving forward with this plan. I will say that many KDs fought me on it or wanted me to put the range/cooktop in it (?!?!?!??!?!?!). Uh, NO.

To reinforce our experience with what Buehl said:

We do have a formal dining room, so this is not our only seating for meals. I would discourage anyone considering eliminating their only real "table".

Overhang - adequate overhang is imperative for comfort. Also, I did not want teenage shoe scuff marks all over my island back.

Non-linear Seating - We have 7 in our family and love to have lively dinner discussions. The ability to face others is key.

Unexpected benefits - The kids all crawl out of their rooms and actually CHOOSE to do their homework at the island. They love the light and the ability to spread out. I am thrilled with this unplanned change in behavior! It did not happen when we had a table in place.

Please let me know if you have any questions!!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 2:26PM
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This is what I did for our family (granite is not on yet in this picture):

We have 5 in our family, so we did an island that will be our main eating area. I did the seating area table height because we have small kids, and neither me or my husband are very tall. We do also have a dining table that we will use if there are more people over, but for our everyday, we will use this. If you have the room to extend your island, I would, but I wouldn't do away with having another dining option.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 3:48PM
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I forgot to add: lagrant, your kitchen is amazing!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 4:03PM
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I got rid of my Kit. table, but I also knocked down the wall between the kit. and DR, and our DR became the main eating area. It was hardwood all the way thru. So really, I lost a formal DR, but gained an awesome kit. eating area. I also extended my island into where the kit. table was and was able to angle it to see 3 - 4. Mainly for kids homework/breakfast, etc. So I didn't really lose a table. I thought for resale, I had plenty of seating, and our kitchen was nice enough that the need for a formal DR wasn't necessary. It worked... sold fast.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 6:12PM
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We've been eating all our meals at the island & I love it. I do wish we had slightly more room per person, but we've got it so that the two tallest (my DH & my oldest DS) or on the edges & it works out just fine. Nobody has complained about it so far (& believe me, my kids would speak up lol!) We do have a formal dining room, but I love having everyone in the kitchen with me.It's a great space for homework & crafts too. It's only been a few weeks, but I'm really enjoying our island instead of a traditional table.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Lagrant, that is the most amazing transformation I have ever seen! I barely come by, so must have missed your finished kitchen. I love everything about it. By the way, did you do part of the kitchen in white and the rest in grey?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 6:56PM
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keptoz -- do you use the island as a prep space, too? Is getting the prep stuff cleaned up and the table ready for dinner an issue? Do the kids want to do homework while you want to cook, and is there enough space?

I'm trying to decide if I want my "big island" layout option to have an upper level separate prep area and a lower seating level. The upper level would be small compared to some islands, but definitely usable, and it would create a definite dividing line between the two uses of the island. I could see having a long flat surface, too. It's certainly attractive that way, and by not having a definite dividing line, projects like Christmas cookies that need more than the usual amount of space could easily spread out over the whole area.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 7:26PM
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Yes. Mine functions as janet describes. No, it's not an issue. No kids here. The table is small as there are only two of us; we squeeze three there at times. I wanted to continue to use my dining room so having more than 3 requires us to go elsewhere. It's lovely to leave the kitchen mess and go into a calm space without all the preparation visible.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:50PM
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Keptoz and lagrant your kitchens are remarkably beautiful. What great insight. Congrats.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 9:00PM
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Keptoz....What color of granite did you use? It is gorgeous!!!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 9:15PM
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Janet .. I do use that space for prep, but usually, by the time the kids get home from school after sports & dance, I'm cleaned up & have dinner already in the oven (remember - I've only had this island for just a few weeks now!) It is big though approx 4' x 6', so I think there is plenty of room for all of us. I was originally going to do a bi-level island to separate out the prep area, but changed my mind at the 11th hour. I just felt we'd all get more use out of the big island (I was thinking about kid's poster projects & my cookie sheets!)

Danielle - thank you! I'm loving it too!

Maryellenr - thank you - its called Brown Tan (also seen it as Tan Brown). The granite yard said its one of the more popular (level 1) colors. I really like it because it has both brown & black in it & was less expensive than many other choices.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 10:55PM
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I have a island similar to rtorgy1's - a drop down to table height. We have knee walls as part of the support structure, and there's 18" of leg space.

We do have a formal dining room, but we only use it when guests are over. Our nightly meals (family of 4) are at the island, and the girls sit there to draw, do homework, eat snacks, etc. We LOVE it and don't miss having a separate kitchen table at all. The island has really become the family hub for us.

Some cons:
- our configuration has a bit of dead space in the center, but I've since put in some big glass jars for decoration. When we're hosting parties, though, the extra space is awesome for setting up chafing dishes, etc.
- I don't personally like eating at bar-height, especially with my kids, so I'm really happy going with table height. I find, however, that at parties, no one ever sits down at the table like they did at the bar at my last house. Everyone stands AROUND the island, but no one sits down. I think if it were a bar, people would feel more comfortable sitting down and chatting.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 10:39AM
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I have never had a kitchen table. We have a dining table/room (our floor plan is completely open and there are no dividing walls) that seats as much as 10 to 12 comfortably. There is no room for both kitchen table AND an island in the house. We generally have the dining table arranged so that is comfortable for 4. The leaves come out when needed. I think traditional large dining table that is set for 8 can be uncomfortable only for 4.

Our kitchen has a large island 8 ft of flat one level surface. We eat breakfast and weekend lunches on the island. We eat all of our dinners in the dining room/table.

The flat uninterrupted surface of the island was one thing that I wanted to make sure I keep in this remodel. I would not have it any other way. We like using it for simple meals, prep, wrapping presents, home work etc.

Since we do not eat dinner on the island, getting prep stuff cleaned off is not an issue for us. We also eat weekend breakfast in the dining area.

I would not want to eat "dinner" on the island. I think eating together requires facing each other and talking and conversing and breaking bread together. This means you either need to configure the island so that it is more comfortably shaped for conversation OR eat at a table.

just my two cents.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 1:18PM
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Mari-thank you so much. The kitchen walls, adjoining hallway, and family room are painted charcoal grey. The cabinets are white.

mom2reese - just love that kitchen! great job! if you find your light fixture missig one day, know that I snuck in and stole it.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 9:12AM
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I wanted to be supportive here of kaismoms opin.

I feel like sitting down for dinner requires a transition in space. I like the walk across the space that means I'm away from the prep area. It makes me feel like now we are ready to relax and enjoy dinner! Eating at an island has always made me feel rushed and uncomfortable.

With a table, someone can get up and go clean/etc in the kitchen area if they want or need to without disturbing the people at the table. With only an island you are sitting there watching someone clean while trying to enjoy your meal. My grandmother (I'm early 30's)always stood at the bar counter to eat her food when I was growing up. She never would QUITE make the transition to actually sitting down and enjoying the meal. It was always, go ahead without me I just want to clean up this last thing... and then getting things for those seated and then beginning the cleaning up. I've always thought that if we could have gotten the kitchen table just another few feet away from that bar how much different her life might have been.

Looking at each other is important to me for a meal to really allow us to talk about our days and what's happening with us. If we go to a restaurant I never sit at the bar style areas. I always want to be on one side of a booth with the DH on the other so we can hold hands and do dorky stuff like that. I like to arue with him as he reads my paper upside down and steal his clean fork when I've dropped mine. I don't feel like these things would happen if we were sitting shoulder to shoulder instead of face to face.

I don't like island seating as a general rule but I can't stand it as the only dining space.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Sorry to hijak, but holy cow, mom2reese, your kitchen is the picture we used for our inspiration kitchen! The designer that is helping me searched for dark cherry cabinets, and your picture was one of the results, and I loved your island configuration so much, yours is the one we went with! She had just emailed me the pic, but I didn't know where it came from- so now I am guessing this site! :) I also loved your light fixture so much we searched for something similar. My kitchen is not done yet, so I haven't seen the light up. I think the one I got was from plc lighting or something like that. Wow, small world!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:25AM
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I'm thinking of having an island made that can be used by just the 2 of us for meals. This is what I'm thinking. Any thoughts? It's a bit tight, but there is at least 36" clearance.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 2:34PM
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I like your island but I prefer lower seating as I am so short. Just something to consider.

Here is a pic of my recently completed kitchen. There are three of us living here and if we have company we use the dining room.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 5:52PM
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jdougjo, my island is very similar to the one in your rendering. It is 32''-33'' high and 40'' wide. We use Crate & Barrel counter-height chairs (not shown). The dining chairs are not quite high enough. All of our meals are eaten at the island. It functions like a table as we sit across from each other. A third person fits comfortably on the end. Any more than that, and we use the dining room.

The end drawers store all that is needed for food prep.
Behind the first set of doors are 6'' shelves for can storage. The second set are deeper and store the rice cooker, blender, all rices and pastas.

Aisles are 40'' to the clean-up sink and 36'' to the cooktop.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 6:59PM
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Hi,we just bought a brand new house. The problem with it is that the kitchen island is very small. It is currently a simple rectangle with storage below. Were moving from a home that had a large pantry,which is missing from the new one.As a result we need more storage. What I would like to do is extend the island where at least four people could sit around and that could give us some more storage underneath.I do not want a kitchen table so the space could be used for a island however I do not want to cut off the flow from the hallway,family room and kitchen. Any suggestions would be appreciated Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen island=to small

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:18PM
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