L+Island versus Peninsula - Please Vote

steph2000July 20, 2011

Okay, I need to get serious about layout here. All of my designs up to date can be considered preliminary. I'll post layouts with dimensions down the road to get layout advice, but I'm currently struggling with more of a general design question.

Before I left on vacation a few weeks ago, I was leaning towards an L+Island layout for my remodel - veering away from the original design that had one row on the exterior wall + bigger island (more of a galley kitchen with one side being island). Here's a pic of the top contender at that point:

Oven wall: (Sorry for the bad view, you are peeking through the banquette on the DR wall. Plan calls for small microwave under the cabinet to the L of stove)

Then, I return home and to GW, gradually slipping back into kitchen research mode after a delicious 10 day vacation. And someone, who will remain unnamed, posts a picture that perks my interest in a U-shape design (my current design but with a wall separating the kitchen from LR). This is the pic:

Which led me to these preliminary drawings, just to see how it would look in my space:

Here's a very preliminary view of the stove wall: (it's not totally symetrical, and there might be a few inches creeping on the right side to fix that. Also not sure about that upper glass cabinet on the left but I left it for now after trying a wine rack instead. If I can get one of those neat, open corner shelves, I'd love that instead):

A few points:

1 - I have slightly more room for each side of the range than this pic shows, but not a ton. Probably enough for 6 inch lower spice racks on the bottom cabinets on each side of the stove plus spacers so everything opens up around the corners.

2 - I designed my plans so that I'd only have the one corner in the kitchen (which currently has a super susan in the lower and open shelves in the upper such as shown here). The other corner (on the peninsula) will have a cabinet facing out into the living room/hall area.

3 - Ignore the range hood in both pics, it's not likely what we would go with but this is IKEA's planner and they don't offer a lot of options. What I REALLY want is a wooden mantle range hood with a shelf, but we'll see if budget allows for that. Do you like this stove with the shelf, stainless wall and hood all combined? I'm sort of liking it...I wonder where you buy such a thing and how much it costs?

4 - In this version, the microwave would go down low on the peninsula in a lower cabinet shelf. Again, I don't know the expense for that, but I like the idea as I think microwaves are the curse of the kitchen. lol

5 - The entrance to the kitchen is 46" in this plan. We might have to lose a few inches of that if we need spacers (which I think we do, at least 2" between the wall and the drawers).

6 - I put open shelves at the end of the run, with seating only on one side of the peninsula. They were more narrow than the cabinets on the IKEA planner, though I could also likely find narrow cupboards to go there. I could also replace it with overhang and have seating on 2 sides of the peninsula, but I don't want to tighten up the wallway too much.

7 - The overhang is 15". Is that enough? Too much for a small space?

All of this fits in the kitchen BEHIND the beam that will replace the wall we are tearing down between LR and kitchen. I had initially wanted the island to extend a bit past the beam into the living room area so we could use it hang pendant lights from. However, if I go with a peninsula instead, it will extend pretty far into the current 'hallway' of the house and we can't anything jutting out and blocking the traffic pattern there. Which means either:

a) tucking it all behind the beam and creating a more narrow alley in the kitchen (51" in this rendition)


b) getting rid of the overhang/seating, which would allow for 15" inches more in the kitchen.


c) having the peninsula curve out after it gets past the hallway area and get rounded, which I'm iffy about as it means more walking around to get into the kitchen and doesn't seem as clean a look as my inspiration pic.

Thoughts? Most importantly, do you prefer the L+island or peninsula for my kitchen and why?

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Fori is not pleased

The island looks good. But you get so much more kitchen with the peninsula!

Am I correct in that you'd have a 51" aisle with the peninsula? Subtract counter overhang installation flubs etc etc. I think it's plenty. Do you expect a lot of chefs at once? It's fine for a couple (that like each other) but a bit cozy for many kids.

I really like the peninsula, assuming you get all the quirks nailed down. It's definitely worth pursuing.

Can we have some topdown views with measurements of walkways? And are you going to get Ikea cabs or just use their software? (You might need more options than they offer and will require some creativity but still perfectly doable with Ikea.)

And that backsplash window? Yeah you know what I think about that! :D

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:28PM
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I did the U layout for a client (shown here partly unfinished) and it works quite well for them. They are also Chinese, cook slightly differently, and are smaller than the typical 5'4" 160 lb American female. There is a range hood hidden in the cabinetry. They are also short, so they do not experience the "cabinet in the face."

However, you either cook in this kitchen (and all five sisters sometimes do, with one seated on the outside of the peninsula)...or you stay out. You can socialize from the other side of the peninisula. That is how it works for them. This is a small house. (The doorway into the kitchen is originally the division between it and the house next door, they are only 11 feet wide inside). This is a 58" aisle but most of the work takes place on one side.

I like these kind of plans, but a complete dead end is not my favorite...I also like two means of egress from a kitchen. What I don't like, personally, is the island as invitation for the brats to run around it in circles when people are doing business with hot things. So it depends on how You will use it. I like the idea that it is efficient and stays tucked behind the header in your plan. Cue 12 people to pipe in and insist the island is the only way to go ---unless it has cooking on it :p

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:30PM
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What is to the left of the fridge, at the end of the kitchen? Is it a blank wall or back door entrance - what? Actually what are the other open spaces. Is the fireplace room a living room and then what is the space to the right of that?

So far I like the peninsula space although I think we are "supposed" to be doing islands. I have a peninsula and could have done an island but it was a deliberate choice, and a better one, for us.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:54PM
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I like the peninsula idea...First of all, you get a ton more kitchen space with the peninsula. And, I like how it keeps everything in behind that beam. The thing I like most- how balanced the backsplash window looks on the peninsula plan. It doesn't look bad on the island plan, but it looks more symmetrical on the peninsula plan (to me). HTH

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:54PM
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I currently have a U-shaped kitchen, and it is great for just me, but really it is not comfortable for 2 cooks or a dish-washer and cook. So I agree with above--it depends in part on whether you want to promote more circulation or to keep people at the bar outside the kitchen. And, also depends on real dimensions because some U-shape/peninsula shapes are very generous and allow more than one person to move freely.

I understand somewhat about "so much more kitchen" but wonder if those differences are very spec-dependent, depending on the length of the "arms" in either design and the size, cabinetry, and orientation (parallel to which kitchen wall) of the island.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:09PM
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Soaking in all the feedback as I ponder...

@Fori - Yes, as designed in this blueprint, the aisle is 51". I might be able to squeeze a few more inches out and still keep everything within the beam. It's all pretty loose right now, just to get the general idea. And yes, I know you are loving the BS window! Let's hope I do justice to it.

Here's a top-down but it doesn't include all the dimensions. The aisle is 51" and the walkway into the kitchen is 46". Both can be tweaked.

@palimpsest - Had to laugh at the stove comment. One of my original drafts had the stove on the island, but it went by the wayside. People have strong opinions about this stuff! No doubt this will be a 'deadend, though I have to say, my rooms are not large enough for that to have freaked me out to this date. That said, right now the U-shape is pretty deep as I am butting up against that wall without any seating over there. We don't have kids to run around, but we do have 3 cats who I am sure would find fun games with an island and might get a dog someday. (Should I mention that my partner told me today he was looking forward to chasing me around the island? lol)

@brianadarnell - You nailed one of the pros of the pen. for me. I do think it works rather elegantly with the backsplash window, as I could basically make the lengths identical.

@blfenton - The room to the left of the kitchen is the dining room. Sort of a formal term for the small space it is...but the current plan is to incorporate pantries/banquette seating on the far wall. A slider to the outside is going to be installed any day now.

Here's a pic of the inspirational banquette:

And one of the existing/in progress DR:

The fireplace room is going to be the TV room/den. It has french doors separating it from the rest of the house. We considered tearing down the wall for open concept but that would require major flooring work as it used to be a garage and the floor is a tiny bit higher than LR.

The open space to the right of the den is the 'living room'. Its really too small to function. My plan is to turn it basically into a sitting area/entrance into the house. Probably a pair of chairs with a table between them by the front wall and that's about it. The front door is there, also. So, when you walk into the house, you are basically going to see the backsplash window/kitchen.

@frankie in zone 7 - We are a household of 2 in a house with 988 SF. Neither of us are huge cooks. We sometimes, but rarely, have more than 1 of us in the kitchen but usually one of us is cleaning up/dealing with dishwasher/digging through fridge while the other is at the stove. Having the microwave away from the stove seems a help in some way, but when the cook needs access to both, a disadvantage.

Basically, the backsplash window is 120" long and there are 3 inches to the corner. The fridge is on the other end, adding to that side but it won't be a consideration for length of the peninsula. So, the peninsula would be just slightly over 10 feet long.

In my current kitchen, both of us can get around well. The only place things stall is when one is at the sink and the other needs silverware. But this peninsula is going to tighten that aisle, unless we give up seating.

Considering flow/circulation is an excellent point - and probably amongst the most salient issues in this whole quandry. I've never lived with an island, a peninsula or an open concept, so I really don't know.

Hmmm... thanks for chiming in! I hope the conversation can keep going, even as I head soon to work. I'm feeling downright stymied on this one. Both have distinct advantages and I am not going to be moving forward until I make a decision and commit to a direction on this. Yikes.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:38PM
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Fori is not pleased

Well, the silverware can go on the tip of the peninsula.

Next problem!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:49PM
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Thanks for posting and explaining the entire area. It helps in getting a feel for the space.
From an aesthetic point, if you see the kitchen when coming into the house, I like the peninsula idea. I like the rendering that you have posted with the long line of the backsplash window and the peninsula counter. It's very elegant looking. The long line of the peninsula will call attention to your window backsplash which would be very cool.
On the front entrance side of the peninsula you could put some nice molding on the underneath (perhaps to match your cabinets), on the wall end you could put a small (maybe 12" deep by 18" wide) shelves for some pretty bowls - things that you use but that are pretty.
If the overhang is just for visiting perching or a quick helpful chopping of something, the overhang could perhaps be 12" instead of 15" deep. It isn't much of a saving - 3" - but perhaps enough to add to your walkway or the inside of the kitchen - whereever it would be most useful.
A 10' long peninsula would be great to have. As fori mentioned with that much space, cutlery should be in a drawer at the DR end of the peninsula anyway. Plates could go in a drawer underneath that, etc.
I'm sure you know - drawers, drawers, drawers. I am a huge fan of those and never understood the attraction but boy- would never go back to cupboards.
You also have a fireplace in your DR - you are lucky and I'm really looking forward to seeing your space develop.
The rendering of the island, to me, just looks a little odd when seeing it from the front entrance.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:15PM
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It looks cleaner from the perspective, and the house is small, so the island pushes on the footprint a bit.

The silverware basket comes out. The silverware is the most convenient thing to have to carry from the DW. imo.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Fori is not pleased

I like the header better with the peninsula, too. You can, you know, DO stuff with the header if it's part of a legitimate room demarcation instead of just a (bwaha!) palimpsest of the former wall.

If the header is floating above the island area, it's a header from where you used to have a wall. If the header coordinates with a peninsula--even if it's just sort of over the middle of the peninsula--then you have a separate but open room, properly planned and dividing the space. You can dress it up to match the cabinets. You can hang Star Wars commemorative plates on it. It becomes a feature and not a scrap of an old wall.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:46PM
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Recently I saw a nifty idea: open metal food-service style canisters set into a narrow pullout in lower cab similar to a spice or pantry pullout. These hold silverware. Was it in Better Homes last month or some other recent mag or perhaps one of the online blogs? Three or four containers abreast on the first shelf below the countertop within the pullout; the next shelves held other things.

I agree that you can position the peninsula anywhere in vicinity of the beam and it will look good IF you give the beam a wise treatment. You could put peninsula down lights on it. Or there was a posting some time ago with a discussion of what words to stencil onto a beam like that--could be seen from which ever side you want to dolly up. OR put your backsplash material on it to echo the backsplash beyond, perhaps ending it exactly where the other backsplash ends or perhaps extending across entire beam to widen and define the room visually. This would also defuse the view of refrig as aligned with the room opening. You'll look at the pair of backsplashes which could be the defining decorating element in the room, as seen from the adjacent room.

Don't store more than a few bottles of wine in the kitchen, esp in uppers. There are wiser climates for it in your house.
In the island plan, I don't like cut-corner cab. Keep it very regular, everything at right angles--looks better from next room. (Unless you follow example of Palimpsest and angle both corner cabs.)

His example plan is worthy of copying.

Our stool seating overhang is 15 inches--works well and we've got a G kitchen so it's much like the dead-ended U plan, albeit wider and longer. Our silverware is on the short end of the G in a drawer; faces the range and is next to the refrig. I've pulled a few oddball items out of the drawer to store closer to range so I don't have to trot the length of the room for a teaspoon.

Have fun stormin' the castle!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Oh that's camera distortion...it's all ninety degrees, but thanks for the props on the plan.

The base corner to the left opens on the outside of the peninsula and the one on the right does have a blind corner. They use that one for bulky stuff.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 5:14PM
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I'll also vote for the peninsula plan. I love the inspiration pic that inspired it, also. Since you're o.k. with people sharing their strong opinions (I hope), I'd just say that I think a 108" full window would be stunning vs. the backsplash window (unless your kitchen backs to a brick wall or something). Looks to me like you'd gain a couple extra cabinets by doing the peninsula, which should make giving up the uppers do-able. It appears that the inspiration photo has a wall of windows along there as well.
I'll admit I am biased b/c I'm huge fan of the "topless" trend, though, especially those with the down-to-the-counter windows.

Keep thinking it through -- you'll know when you've got it just right, and it's worth tinkering with the plan until you do.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 5:37PM
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Smooth job working palimpsest into the sentence fori!
I was just about to add my voice to the chorus of support for the peninsula (I have one too and think they are often the best fit, although not the most popular in these parts), when I reviewed the thread again. Be sure that you will be comfortable with only having one exit - I might feel just a tad claustrophobic in that space. Given that you don't have wee ones running around the island, it really isn't a safety issue to have the open kitchen with island.

Back to the peninsula option, since you say that neither of you are big cooks, then perhaps you could follow kris_ma's suggestion of no uppers on the window wall (since you will have quite a bit of storage in the peninsula). Not having any uppers (any having lovely window instead) could really counteract that "closed in" feeling that the closed U-shaped space might have. I think that would also be a better view when you walk into the house, given that that is the wall you would see as you enter. It would feel very open and airy. Again, unless your view is of a cement wall - in that case, go with the BS window and consider open shelving rather than closed cabinets.

My peninsula has a cabinet facing out to my dining room as yours will have - a great way to avoid awkward corners, but ours also houses our small wine fridge. That might be a better place to store your wine than on your upper shelves.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 8:43PM
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I guess a few of you missed the drama of picking a height/location for the window before we had a solid kitchen plan in place, not to mention no chosen materials. THAT was a fun decision!! (not) Needless to say, the backsplash window is already in, all 120 inches of it.

There will soon be a slider off the DR for those wanting floor to ceiling views. :)

I personally like the idea, which will provide a nice view from the island/peninsula seating someday but currently offers an amazing amount of light to the kitchen/counter workspace already even now.

I get what you are saying about the row of uppers sort of closing the space in, and am totally open to suggestions. I tried configurations with glass cabinets there, which helped, but ended up putting solid doors back on to hide mess/clutter.

Struggling a bit with silverware drawer placement, as it is competing with where I wanted to put the microwave if I go with a peninsula. Hm...maybe that microwave is going to end up hanging off an upper after all. Unless I can find another handy place for the silverware. How big does that drawer need to be, I wonder. I keep thinking it would go in a larger cabinet.

I will for sure be doing drawers wherever I can. As of my latest rendering, the only exceptions were the garbage pull out, the spice drawer pull outs and the sink cabinet.

If I go with a peninsula, I thought I'd use that cabinet on the wall side (R) for things like a file drawer, mail/bill station, perhaps a phone charger, junk drawer. I could open it up with shelving, but I was liking the corner shelves in the inspiration picture and am not sure I want to have too many open shelves to deal with. Stuff gets so dirty in the kitchen... and shelves are so important to get right when decorating. I don't want clutter and do want to simplify my life with all this.

I'm still sort of waffling. I do think the peninsula seems to work better with the window and an island is sort of pushing it in this small space. The island would have to be pretty small.

What I like about the island is that I could change countertop or the color of the cabinets. But, the shape seems sort of funny to me with what I have to work with. Also, the idea of being able to enter right off the hall or have 2 entrances to the back of the house is nice. It just might be nicer than my square footage allows?

It's strange. The peninsula seems long enough that I and others worry it will create a cage, but the island seems so small it is almost insignificant. Maybe I'm tired, or maybe paradox is working it's magic. lol

But, my peninsula would not really be bigger than that of the inspiration picture. While I think it is too narrow, is it really that long?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:31PM
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Mine was one of the threads that brought up the U-shaped kitchen and hopefully this is a good dilemma for you to have.

I used to want an island because "everybody had an island." I went through it in my head many times over and for me, the island choices I came up with were too tiny to be worth giving up the usage of the U-shape. Maybe you have a better option for an island that you haven't yet discovered. From these drawings, I would have to vote for the peninsula.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 1:28AM
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Gratuitous, I know, but I just want to mention that some of my very fondest memories of life with little-kids involves their running around the "race track". We had a setup that functioned like the island would for racing around. I know the comment was meant in fun, but as it is probably the most sparkling memory of my entire life, it kinda hurt to read the derisiveness of "brats running around it in circles".

I just wanted to stick up for 'brats running around in circles' and the pleasure the whole thing gives them and us, if we let it. Sorry to be chiming in on cue, but somehow the purity of their joy clashes with the cynicism of the evoked image of "racing brats".

Ooo -- I'll never squeeze this in as well as fori (because I don't really understand the word's usage) but here goes: it's kind of as if the island-brat-race is a palimpsest of the race-track fun. And not in a good way.... (is it ever?)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 5:11AM
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Having grown up in an island kitchen, I was a brat that ran around it.


That is where the cynicism of my remark comes from. There is much Dogma in this forum, and part of the dogma seems to be that your children are going to be whatever they feel like and eating whatever they feel like and opening whatever cabinet refrigerator etc. whenever they feel like right in the middle of an adult opening the broiler, emptying a pot of boiling water, lighting the flaming shishkabob.

I maintain that kids should not being doing this at that particular moment, should not be Permitted to do this at that particular moment, and are often intelligent enough to figure this out themselves.

I am much less cynical about the kids themselves than what some of the adults in this forum say about them.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 8:13AM
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Kids are little for a very short time. Gotta think about the long haul, but in the meantime, as P says, rules are in order.

I suggest that this topic is finished and the conversation needs to return to the question of what are the benefits of the island plan.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:14AM
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@colorfast - Yep, a happy dilemma - or at least an important one! Upon reflection, it is sort of interesting that once we decided to take down the wall, I had never even once considered my current U layout. Until I happened upon your thread and some others which might have actually been linked from yours. Maybe that was because it seemed so obvious I had to have an island these days? I'm not sure but accomodating 2 decent-sized walkways is about 90" in any kitchen is a lot of my total space.

There are only 2 ways to make the island bigger that I can see, though please chime in if I am missing other options:
1 - Eliminate the L and put the stove or sink on the island, which minimizes bare counter space again but would allow me to extend the island to the right about 30 inches
2 - Keep the L but deepen the island so the seating part extends past the beam (my concern with that is that the island extends out of the kitchen in a way that might seem unbalanced?).

I have earlier snapshots of both options, for what it is worth.

Galley/island kitchen:

L with big island:


It seems to me that Aliris' comment gets to the 'feel' of an island. There's just something freeing about open space. Given my partner's spontaneous comment, perhaps that appeals as much to adults as kids. I can see my cats playing stalking games with the island as well - hopefully not while we are trying to dump pasta water.

As I've said, though, I've never lived with an island or open concept so this is all just my imagination and I'm sure my kitchen is going to feel a whole lot more open with the wall down and backsplash window than it does now and I can be happy with that if that's the way I need to go.

Palimpsest's comment resonates with me, though, too. I am probably dating myself but I was raised in a world where children were taught manners, that they were not the center of the universe no matter how cute or clever, to not interrupt when adults were talking and were told to go away (outside) and FIND something to do. I think a lot of that was good for kids (and schools, society and adult relationships), especially given the normal/healthy narcissism of childhood thinking patterns. I've been rather flabbergasted to watch my peers parent so differently than how we were raised, though I'm sure there are exceptions. It's a pretty fascinating cultural process to analyze each generation's parenting and what it produces for society, good and bad. That being said, even in the best of situations, mistakes happen and taking safety considerations into kitchen design seems sensible to factor in.

OP RULE: Everyone can weigh in on the parenting issue as long as they vote on my dilemma first. lol

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I am often wishing my peninsula was an island. We looked into it but the wood flooring under the peninsula is unfinished and since the entire downstairs is a connected floor, that would mean refinishing the entire thing $$. So we stuck with the peninsula. I do have three young children. I feel like an island would actually help my "brats" get out of the way more easily. What happens now is that sometimes a child or my dh gets trapped when they'd like to be getting out of the way. Flow is just really important to me and we very often have people coming in and out of the kitchen. I like your ideas to make the island bigger. I would go with one of those. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 2:30PM
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