Island size and layout help

KooopsApril 8, 2013

We're doing a kitchen facelift and I have layout/size questions.

I want to paint my cabinets white-I hope to see it brighten up the room, obviously get rid of the orange tone and coordinate with other features in our house.

We are changing the entrance point from our kitchen to our adjacent family room. Currently we enter the family room right near where the desk is on the floor plan. We are going to move the opening to the other end of the half wall.

Our current eat in kitchen has a table where the new entrance will be. I am considering moving a smaller table to a bump out area in our kitchen or just creating more seating with a larger island. Does this space look to small? I would probably have to hug the table to the wall and use a bench. There is also a door to the deck which opens out.
Does anyone have pros/cons to having only island seating in the kitchen? Also of note, we have a dining room off of our kitchen as well.

I mocked up a floor plan with the larger island idea.
Will I be able to fit 4 seating areas around it when it being 7'10" long and 3'4" deep? I do have a 5th seat shown which I don't think would work, but I'm debating how to arrange the seating. I think I would need to deepen the island to accommodate a seat on the side? I would like side seating if possible, better for communication, esp if this would be our main eating area.

So I guess I'm wondering how big I could go with the island without impacting through space and crowding the area.

This is what I'm proposing. Hopefully you can click to enlarge. The island size is 7'10" by 3'4" wide. I have 6'6" between the edge of the island and the basement door wall- so I may be able to go a bit wider on the island. There is 4'10" between the wall/entrance to the family room and the island.

A 3D view

Here are photos of the current space (minus ugly curtains)

This post was edited by Kooops on Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 13:39

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hoping for some input, please :-)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Hi there,
I'm sorry I don't have more specific comments for you, but this link will help you determine the proper size of your island. Remember that when you measure the walkway, that you account for all of your countertop overhangs. In other words, don't just measure from cabinet to cabinet, but from overhanging countertop edge to countertop edge.

Most of your measurements look ok, except for the walkway to the right of the island, which seems snug. I'd shrink the island a bit to make the walkway there a little wider.

Best wishes!

Here is a link that might be useful: 31 Kitchen Design Rules

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Thank you, that was helpful for some measurements. I think I'm aiming for 4 seats at the island and can probably increase the island size to 7'10" long by 4' deep.

The space between the island and stove is set already. It has never felt too tight and I cannot move it over without having to re-do the hardwood flooring as we had it installed up to the existing island and it has quarter round at the cabinet. I have to leave the footprint the same or go bigger from the other sides.

If anyone else has input
I'm looking for input on the necessity of the eat in table area?

Is there anything undesirable about island only seating, both living with it and re-sale?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:03PM
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One thing that jumps out is your plan to seat 4 at the island. Your island seems a bit short for that. I am seating 4 at my 10ft island. Maybe yours will work if its 4 small children??

I think the "con" to having only island seating is that it's not conducive to conversations. How often do you plan to eat in the kitchen? If you want, for example, to do just breakfast there, then it's probably fine. You can do lunch & dinner in the DR. I would not want to have family dinners at the island...

This post was edited by buildinva on Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 17:29

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:28PM
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I did change it to only include 4 total, 3 on one side and 1 on the end.

We would eat there for most meals. That is why I am asking about the small table in the bump out. It would be a cozy fit, but would fit.

Here is a slightly larger sized island with only 4 seats giving each seat 30".

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:56PM
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I made some similar decisions, and will post my inspiration pic which reminds me of what you seem to be striving for. Agree that the right of the island at 3' is a bit narrow, esp given the space you have to the left. Also, you've got so much space up and down from the island why not go wider? Like 5'x8' maybe?

We didn't have the room you have, but did do all our kitchen meal seating at our island (we have a large dining room table for formal and large family gatherings). After living with it for almost 2 years we still LOVE it!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Co-Co- thank you!! Your inspiration is exactly what I'm going for. If I could get 2 seats on an end and 3 on the long side, it would make conversation around the island a non-issue.

I am hesitant to go too deep, I extended it to 4 feet but the basement door and major traffic area through there is a concern to me. I don't want it hanging out too far so that when you come in through the garage, it's like you have to walk around it, if that makes sense.

I could definitely add 2 inches to the length and make it 8 feet.

I guess the width has to be at least 56" to fit 2 on the end, that I may be able to do.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:34AM
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Do you plan to eat ALL meals at the island? We eat some quick meals at our island but most dinners and some other meals at eaten in our dining room.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:30AM
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On a day in day out basis- yes, we eat all meals in the kitchen and would likely continue.

We use our dining room when we have guests or gatherings. It's kind of a waste, but also nice to have when needed.

I just taped out the island size on my floor and I'm not sure I can go 8 feet. It just seems too big, it hangs completely into the view from my front door, which I don't love. It also makes the walkway between the desk and the island smaller than I'd like. I could shrink the depth a bit, I had made it 56" to see if I could get 2 seats on the side.

I'm thinking maybe I'll see if the table in the bump out would be doable even if it was for 2 or 3. Most days we don't eat breakfast or lunch all at once and it could be used for that if one was wanting to sit at table height. I just don't want it to look like we jammed a little table in the corner.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:58AM
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While we love our island, none of us (2 adults 2 teens) would want to eat every meal there whether alone or not. I would think more about using your dining room for more meals, like dinner or changing your island only plan for the kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:04AM
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What if the island has a leg or two instead of a base cabinet supporting the top at one end? That way, you could wrap the seating around 3 sides of the island. This would lose a little bit of storage space, but give an open, airy look as you look into the kitchen from the front and back doors and family room, feel and look more like a table, allow more people to see each other during meals, and allow someone to see the front door.

The nook does seem a little small for a dining area if you use that door much. Perhaps a corner window seat and a small table? You could replace storage lost from the island by adding it under the window seat.

Nice 3-D illustration!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:19AM
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bpathome- Yes, I intended to have it be as open underneath as possible. It would be more of a hybrid type island- kind of table like at the end. I guess I didn't think about how that would look from the door. You are right, not as obstructive.

I do not need more cabinetry than what I have. The only thing I would like to gain is another pull out trash in the island. Currently we only have 1 can and I would like a dedicated recycling trash can.

Since I plan to make the island deeper, I should also be able to gain some shallow storage for rarely used things on the long seat side of the island.

The more I think about it, yes, the bump out just seems too small. I have to make the seating work with the island since we are changing the flow by changing the entrance to the family room. The current table is right in front of that.

If anyone has island only seating (debrak....) what is it that makes you not want to sit there for all casual meals?

Is it the layout? (all along one side)
The comfort of the seats? (maybe backless, too crowded)
The height?

I'm wondering if I can try to plan to make it comfortable and conversation friendly and make us want to sit there.

This post was edited by Kooops on Thu, Apr 11, 13 at 12:14

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:13PM
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I have an island that seats three. We only use it for breakfast and snacks or few of us are having a quick lunch. Reason being, it's main use and function is for meal preparation and so the top gets cluttered with cutting boards, produce, ingredients and is the place where we work with raw meat and eggs that all go hand in hand with dinner meal preparation. Having a separate table that is clear and clean to eat at makes the transition from meal preparation to eating seamless and then we typically clean the island and kitchen after dinner, not before. It'd add on about another 20 mins. to serving the meal, if I had to clear and sanitize the island prior. This all happens in the midst of getting kids to/fro their sports practices and, now, feeding and walking the dog.

In your situation, I also would not like the island in view from the front door and the larger island would only work for me if the opening to the DR were made larger and that space used for family dinners.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 12:42PM
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valinsv- good points. I too use the island for prep, although I use the space between the sink and range as well.

I guess I'm stuck because we are moving the wall between the kitchen and family room because the family room just isn't functional with the current flow.

However, we're impacting the function of the kitchen.

I really do not want to use my dining as main eating- for one, I just purchased a new beautiful custom built table and sloping arm leather chairs. The thought of my children eating in there for all meals.........uh no.

The other thought I had was having a 2 level island. Keep the higher level for prep and create an attached table area for seating. Thoughts on this?
I don't know how I would work the size since I don't want seating at the island on the sink counter side.

It would still be visible from the front door, but not much I can do about that. As you can see from my photos, my current small table is viewed from the front door.

Thanks for the thoughts.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Well, this may seem like an off the wall suggestion, but since there IS something you can do about seeing the island from the front door and since it's something I'd seriously consider for myself: Close off the passage from the foyer to the kitchen.

Because: I really, really don't like my private spaces on display for just anyone who comes to the front door, so fixing this would be on my hit list anyway. I'm assuming like most families our own main entry would be from the garage and back garden, but that wouldn't matter that much.

Because this would allow me to make my foyer what I would like it to be by making it a complete space in itself, replacing a socially uncomfortable and frequently unattractive view of the kitchen with a new, very handsome wall worthy of a first impression, perhaps with a niche holding a fine old chest and piece of art, or some such.

Because: It would encourage family and guest traffic to move in a circular route through what might be neglected front rooms, encouraging them to become part of family life. I realize this one isn't likely to appeal to you with your new DRM furniture, but I throw it in as something to be gained from the change anyway because it would be for me. I want all our rooms to be routinely used and enjoyed.

Because: It would open up whole new opportunities for the kitchen layout.

Because: It would make the kitchen itself a nicer, cozier place to be when strangers or people we don't care for that much are at the front door. Not just a center of family life but sanctum sanctorum for family and those friends who belong there.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:03PM
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I reread you OP and really don't have any good ideas for you. All I can do is share our situation.

Right now I'm at my island. We have 4 backless stools. One end has a cabinet and is sometimes used for prep.
While a quick take out meal, or a quick dinner for just 1 or 2 is fine at the island but we do like our dining room which is open to the living room. I would get tired of eating every meal at the island because, 1) the space is fine but everyone just fits at the island with no extra room. 2)The stools are backless and we like to be able to lean back while eating and talking sometimes. 3) Its nice to be in a different room as I spend alot of time in the kitchen.

Right now I am stenciling the dining room walls and redecorating the room. Our dining room gets used alot for eating, talking, homework, etc. I believe in using what you have. Our whole house is user friendly for dogs, cats, kids of all ages.

Every family is different and things changes as the ages of kids change, etc.

If your kids are young they won't mind the island 24/7 but you and your DH might.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:12PM
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As you are not putting in a prep sink, I can see you will probably do more prep on the perimeter. My bias is against counter seating for daily family meals. The current setup you have now is much more condusive for conversation or kids using it as a space to spread out and work on school projects, etc. I have a kitchen table, but my island still gets heavy use and then the pancake syrup ends up sticking to papers, etc. when people are reading or doing homework on the island. I know you are planning a small table in the nook but can you envision it working for 4-adults or will it be cramped? Your kids are small now but before you know it they will be teenagers and take up more space. My children are just now starting to leave the nest (1 in college, 1 to leave next year and 1 in middle school) so choices I made 5-years ago when we remodeled are different now. I've removed 2 chairs from the kitchen table so place feels less cramped and just bring them back out again when DS is home. One pet peave in my family is my DD tosses her car keys on the granite island and we still have the kitchen table for landing space for purses, bags and textbooks as they come in the door! An island is more of less a permanent fixture which is difficult to change as your family grows/shrinks or you have guests or grandma visiting for a week and some kids can be rough/careless. Much less expensive to change the kitchen table than a granite island (and the flooring below it). Just my two cents for what it's worth.

As for the front door issue, can you put in a pocket door since you are changing out the desk area to cabinets anyway?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:14PM
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How about making part of the island table height?

Here are some examples but I know I've seen better ones. I'm imagining the table area to be round.

Traditional Kitchen by Toronto Interior Designer c3d design

Tropical Kitchen by Kailua Interior Designer Archipelago Hawaii, refined island designs

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Again, we eat 99% of meals at our kitchen island. We converted our kitchen/breakfast nook into all kitchen, so the only seating is at the island. We have super comfy stools and no toddlers, but we are completely okay with this setup. It was a nerve-wracking decision though (getting rid of the traditional kitchen table).

I believe the minimum space per seat is 24", so for 5 seats you would be ~56x80" (assuming adding an 8" "overlap" for each on the corner). Having said that our seating area for 4 people is 50x56"

I am biased... I am an unabashed island lover. I can't stress enough how functional this has been for us... for eating but also for food prep, projects, wrapping presents, etc. I've also included a link for a previous thread about island seating arrangements. Oldbat2be has a beautiful island picture in this thread:

Here is a link that might be useful: island seating layouts

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Thank you everyone....I'm just getting more conflicted, LOL!

Front door- I would generally not have an issue with re-directing traffic through our living room, through our family room and into the kitchen OR, through the dining room BUT, the front door is my natural light source to my kitchen. Above my front door is a very large 2 story window. The front of the house is south facing and lets all of the light in. I almost always have my door open and I have a full glass storm door. My kitchen is otherwise very dark and depressing. I'm hoping the white cabs will perk it up. I just can't see taking away that light. I could do a transom I suppose, but it won't be as bright. I also have a new front door on order. It is a 3/4 light seeded glass door. Similar to this just not as ornate in the leading.

I thought it would be a nice thing to look at from my kitchen, but also offer privacy and let in light.

If I were to incorporate some kind of pocket door by the desk area, I would still have the light issue, unless the door was opaque glass. It would still filter out light but not as much. Also, my 1/2 bath is in the entry hallway so the kids are in and out of there all day long, I don't think it would ever get shut.

The other consideration I have is that we have plans to add on a room behind the kitchen where our deck currently sits. It would be a sunroom of sorts and be entered where the door to the deck is now. I could include a casual dining area in here, but this is a few years out.

The island to table option is appealing to me. It would allow me to still have a "table" but keep the traffic flow into the new family entrance wide open.

Co-Co Your island is beautiful. It is perfect in that your seating area is at one end while useable counter space for prepping is at the other end. Could you tell me the dimensions of your island?

One other consideration I have is eliminating the desk and creating a seating area there- we could do a built in bench with a long narrow table. I would need to shrink the island down but I may be an option.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I did a quick draw up with a table where the new 1/2 wall will be and once the desk is removed.



I shrunk the island although it is still 5 feet, 1 foot longer than it is currently. I just want to try to fit an extra trash can so I will have to figure that out. I also think I'd just do a bench on the straight wall and not an L shape. That way you can get in and out on both sides.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:10PM
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As I'm playing with the layout more, I realize the desk wall is only 4 feet. Once you put in a bench and a table, it will likely hang into the view of the front door....again.

I am thinking of a narrow farm style long table and I could probably do chairs at the heads of the table. I would do a chair that could tuck in right to the table on the entry hall side.
I'm think maybe only 24" width will work without sticking out.

Something with a look like this

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 6:57PM
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I'll toss one more idea into the mix: What about curving the seating area of the island so you're not all like "frogs on a log?" Something a bit like this-

Traditional Kitchen by Mattapoisett Interior Designer Nathan J. Reynolds-Poulin

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:08PM
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laughable--frogs on a log :-D...... didn't really consider that option but that might be an idea since my largest floor space is where it would bow out the furthest.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:22AM
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I didn't read each post, so I hope this one thought isn't redundant. I have seating for 8 at my island - we have a family of 7. I opted to bump the "kitchen" in to the "breakfast room" space similar to what you're doing. If you elect to have seating at a 90 degree angle, be sure that you allow for needed dead space at the corner. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well. If you look at the picture below, the seat at the corner on the short side to does not conflict with the seat at the corner on the long side.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:58AM
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The critical unknown factors. It was nice of you to take time to answer when you're so bumfuzzled with real possibilities. For me, too, a pretty view of the door and the light streaming in would outweigh the rest. I stated the privacy issues strongly, but I feel just as strongly about sunshine. :)

FWIW, inches and details aside, much as I like flexibility I suspect it'd be much better to go for one really GOOD option. A great island (or a great table right in the middle). But not to try to fit a table and chairs in that would be tight for everyday meals (and inevitably have chairs in the line of sight), plus an island that only sat two.

180 here because I would feel just like you about keeping a quality view through the house, but so the end of the island would be obtruding into the view from the front hall--imperfection, but a relatively minor one compared to the dining issue? (Mercifully, the work area would be entirely out of sight, unlike so many kitchens in that location.)

Plus, you are planning on a sunroom (love them!) someday, which may precipitate further change. I'd suggest running the flooring all the way under any island so that it could be reconfigured in future if desired.

If a really good island required traffic from the garage to swing around it a bit, maybe just make sure there's plenty of room to swing? Put the desk somewhere else if necessary?

Have you considered putting a picturesque and invitingly comfortable chair and ottoman in the bump-out? While you wait for your sunroom?

Shot my wad.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Thanks rosie! Yes....light, I can't give up the light. Then I wonder- why put a sun room on the north side of the house? Well because it's really the only place we can add on, but if we do sky lights (on top of lots of glass), we'll capture some nice sun light. If only I could add sky lights to my kitchen. It's just gloomy in the back of the house.

"FWIW, inches and details aside, much as I like flexibility I suspect it'd be much better to go for one really GOOD option. A great island (or a great table right in the middle). But not to try to fit a table and chairs in that would be tight for everyday meals (and inevitably have chairs in the line of sight), plus an island that only sat two. "

^^^^^ That really hit home with me! Thanks....I agree, I need to quit trying to jam a table in here or there just for the sake of a table.

I appreciate the thoughts and experiences and advice.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 4:02PM
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