Small island too small to support overhang for seating?

zaphod42September 22, 2013

We'd like to include an island in our upcoming kitchen design, but need it to have space for seating on opposite side. The top of the island would be about 2.5' W x 4' L. Cabinet as base with overhang for seating on one long side and one short side. Due to smaller size of island will I have to worry about what I select as my counter material? I was planning quartz for the rest of the countertops, but this might be too heavy. What is the generally designed amount of overhang for seating - 10", 12" or more? Thank you!

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Sophie Wheeler

Your island has to be permanently fastened to the floor, have electrical run to it, and not impact the 36" minimum aisle clearances required. Counter height seating needs 15" of supported overhang. And you need a minimum of 48" behind that overhang for someone to squeeze by. 60" is better if it's a traffic thruway or has other seating that backs up to it.

Very often kitchens without islands don't have them because there isn't room for them.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Are those code requirements or rule of thumb? I'd like to shift the location, but that would make a little under the 3' clearance. I've got the space overall. We're thin and petite people, 48" would be fine as it doesn't back up on the walkway and I could even make the island 3-3.5' wide.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:56AM
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When you talk about "a little under the 3' clearance" is that including your counter overhang or is it your cabinet to cabinet clearance. Normal counters will overhang anywhere from 1"-1 1/2" which means that you lose about 2" - 3" of aisle width when you include a normal counter overhang. (I'm not talking about seating overhang but just normal counter overhang)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:16AM
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FWIW, there are a number of portable breakfast bars about those dimensions. (Not recommending this model or company or reseller; it was just the first hit I got when searching.)

But they all seem to be wood drop leaf tops at that size.

Here is a link that might be useful: crosley portable drop leaf bar

This post was edited by writersblock on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 11:28

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:26AM
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If your island is across from dishwasher, frig or stove you would want more than 3' to your appliance. We are having an overhang of 15" but it will have support.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:41PM
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Unlike natural stone or solid surface, most 3cm quartz manufacturers specify a 14" unsupported overhang as permissible.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:36PM
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We have lived comfortably with a 13 inch overhang for years. (We also have only 30" between our fridge and peninsula, which is kinda ridiculous, but something we inherited. I would not claim that to be optimal!) But the overhang is fine. Most people don't sit squished tightly up to the counter, so it works for my long-legged DH as well

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 11:12PM
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Cindy Noll

Our previous peninsula had a 12 inch counter height overhang & worked fine for 28 years. My island now has an 11 inch overhang & we have no problem at all, even my 6 foot 3 son. My island cabinet is 2 by 4 & the butcher block top is 3 by 4, so the overhang worked out to 11 inches. We also have a 37 inch walkway on one side & it is fine. I am sure I don't have 48 inches between the seating & my dining room table, but it is more than there was before. Again, no problem. My island is screwed to the floor & has electric.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 8:01AM
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We also had less than the "recommended" 15" (by far). The counter was curved outward -- I think the overhang went from 9" at the ends to 12" in the center. The walkway behind the stools was slightly under 40". It was fine, not ideal but fine.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Our overhang is 13.5" (12" deep cabinets flank the overhang and a 1.5" overhang over those) and that works just fine. As lori_inthenw wrote, no one feels the need to jam their knees all of the way in when sitting at the counter.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:46PM
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One of the mistakes I made in my new kitchen was making a 15" overhang one one side of my peninsula. We have seating on three sides and the other two sides are 12", which is perfectly fine for seating, including for my 6'4" husband. I really could have used that extra 3" to make the cabinet underneath wider.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Some of the things hollysprings mentioned may be code, depending on where you live. It was required for us to run electrical through the cabinet. The code even specified that we needed an outlet on the floor next to the cabinet - but luckily the inspector didn't notice that we didn't bother. We did need an outlet on the cabinet side wall.

We thought we would need 15" overhang for our counter, but we did it at 12.5" and it works great. If this was your main eating area and you wanted it to feel like regular table seating, you might want 15" but we sit there a about 5-6 hours per week and it's fine.

Our counter with overhang is quartz. Depending on whether you are using 2cm or 3cm, you may need support -- which any good GC can do, you add 3/8" steel bars under the countertop. At either 12" or 15", there is no need for corbels or other more intrusive support.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:09PM
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