Lowered Island Height & Fitting Stools Underneath

2LittleFishiesSeptember 30, 2012

Total island height is 34" (I'm short)

All counter height stools seem to be 24-26" high. Without the countertop we have 32" high island minus 2" for a support skirt brings us at 30".

Is that going to be enough leg room so that some people's legs aren't extremely close or touching the underneath of countertop/skirt?

Cabinetmaker really wants to do the 2" skirt. Said its great support for people leaning, etc...

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I'm so jealous that you get a 34" island... I'm short too but my husband is 6'. That foot of difference in our heights is a challenge for work surfaces. Don't mean to hi-jack your thread. But I am jealous. Ah, the trials of husbands in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I agree with your cabinet maker. It's a better look and more support. It's pretty easy to trim the legs of a counter height stool to make it fit under a shorter counter, so don't let that worry stop you here.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:36PM
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What about stools that have adjustable heights? Thats what I'm going to look at.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:41PM
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thanks holly- he also has corbels under that... Is it overkill?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:42PM
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I don't think a person would lean onto a lowered counter height setup. You are seated with a beverage/newspaper or just talking-but leaning?? think of your kitchen table-maybe rest your arm or elbow for a bit as you reach forward and pull food up or a drinking glass or talk on a phone-it would take abnormal force from your spine to actually lean onto your table...your body weight is back at the chair/stool.I don't like the skirt-it doesn't look right and have never seen that. Look at islands on houzz for a while before "yes" to that.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:17PM
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    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:04PM
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Granted most of those have legs

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Oh? You're not planning legs? I should have looked at the diagram closer. I would NOT do an apron without legs, or corbels with legs. It's one or the other, not both. I personally prefer the homey table like atmosphere that the apron and legs give a kitchen and that's why I think it would be perfect for your space. The corbels are too overwrought and too much.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:19PM
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I agree with hollysprings. Either legs/skirt or corbels/no-skirt.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 3:32PM
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Hi 2Littlefishes --

Yes, the islands you picture above have skirts and
Katieob's island has a skirt.

I like skirts on islands.
I think they give them a more custom and traditional look with more "presence."

But your question is still: is it too much to have a skirt and corbels?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:06PM
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I like the look of legs but would prefer the bottom to be all open. It leaves more room for stools etc without the legs.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:54PM
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We have an apron with 2 simple corbels, one on each end. There are no corbels in the middle of the space. Although I love the look of legs, they may limit your seating space. Our island is on the small side, about 68" long, so I wanted to optimize space and thought the legs might impede someone's actual legs if they were sitting at the edge of the island.

I agree with the previous poster - the apron makes the island look more "custom," in my opinion. I like how it adds weight to that side of the island.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:54PM
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Skirt and corbels are too much for the style you're trying to create. I think you're veering into the "Marcolo lecture" territory with both.

I struggled with the skirt issue also. Besides the aesthetics, I knew I wanted as much legroom under the overhang as I could. We lived with too-tall stools in our old kitchen for quite a while and was tired of my thighs being smooshed against the underside if the counter. I went naked, or skirtless, and am happy for the comfort.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I feel like I haven't had much say with the island... that's just the way the KD designed it. I voiced my concern over skirt due to leg room several times and he said he really likes it for support reasons and people leaning. it was originally 3" thick and now it is 2". I didn't want legs for above mentioned reason. Corbels just appeared in the design.

I'm confused.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:06PM
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cmm- Do you have a picture?

Breezy- Do you have legs?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:09PM
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    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:18PM
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The picture you just posted (with the red/orange napkins) does look very nice.
But your island is oriented so that the seating end is on the "short" end.
So the look will be somewhat different.

Perhaps your kitchen designer thinks you need the apron
to make that end of the island look balanced,
that is "beefed" up feels completely integrated into the island?
Besides functional concerns about support,
does your designer express aesthetic arguments
for wanting both an apron and corbels?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:54PM
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francoise- We have seating on the long side like in that photo AND on one short end... Maybe that's what you meant.

Mostly he wants the apron for support. I assumed you HAD to have corbels with the skirt to keep it up? Are they just decorative? They were much larger but now he shrunk them to 6" x 8"...

I feel like when I bring it up he seems conflicted and really wants the skirt. I don't mind it but I was concerned about leg space and now some of you are saying the skirt doesn't look good without legs.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:02PM
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All island pics: The skirt shows as 3" in one of the pics but it's really 2".

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:09PM
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2littlefishies - here is a picture. I just measured ours:

*From floor to bottom of apron is 32 1/4"

*Apron is 2 1/2" tall (so from floor to top of island - without countertop- is 34 3/4" )

*The seat height of our stools is 25", from floor to top of cushion.

If you would have only 30" from floor to the bottom of the apron, as you mentioned, then yes that might be too tight to comfortably sit at a stool. Kids and small adults might be fine but someone with bigger legs might feel uncomfortable. I personally wouldn't want it any lower than ours is now.
Remember, to get on and off of a stool you need to lift your legs up above the seat a bit - you usually don't just slide your leg onto the stool, so you have to account for that space also.

I had a friend who didn't plan on any type of apron or support for her island overhang. She purchased a concrete countertop and when the installers came they insisted that she buy some support for the counter. This may have already been mentioned in this thread (can't remember!), but it's also a good idea to check with your countertop installer to make sure you don't actually need any additional support.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:46PM
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cmm- great info! Thanks!
We are doing a walnut countertop that the cabinetmaker/kd is making and installing.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Hi 2littlefishes,

Although I know that you don't want legs on your island,
would you consider putting two on the "short" end of the island
that faces your dining table?
This is the side of the island that most of your guests will view.
Putting two legs there will make that elevation of the island more symmetrical and will sort of mirror the other side of the island that faces your range wall.

Just a friendly 11th-hour suggestion. (I know you don't want legs.)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:54PM
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hi francoise : )

The downside is that the island is 51" wide now which allows me to seat 2 people at end (when necessary- not on a daily basis). With 2 legs there I don't think that would even be possible.

Do you think if I just get rid of skirt and do support brackets (possibly invisible) with any necessary simple corbels that would work better than present plan with skirt and corbels?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Our island is 33 1/2". The countertop is over 3", so the underneath part is 30 1/4" from the floor...So close to what you're talking about, I think. We use 24" stools (no pad or cushion, though) just fine. Actually, I just measured our 24" stools and they are 23 1/2". I wanted to add a skirt so badly, but with the thick countertop, I used up the space! ;-)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Hi 2LittleFishies,

OK -- no legs for you.

In your traditional kitchen I like the look of the skirt and corbels
as done in cmm6797's beautiful white kitchen (picture earlier in this post).
I like the "heft' of the skirt.

Breezy's kitchen island doesn't have the skirt and it looks great too.
But Breezy's whole kitchen has much cleaner, and less traditional lines
than I think yours is going to have.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:25PM
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No, I don't have legs. I went naked. I'll link my old thread sheen I made my decision about skirts, legs, etc. Maybe it will help?

Here is a link that might be useful: Naked, legged or corbelled

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:04AM
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Hi 2LittleFishies --

One thing that I wasn't considering is how the island proportions
with the skirt (and corbels) will look with your lower height of 32 inches.
That could change the proportions overall enough to make a difference aesthetically.
(Almost all of the pictures you are seeing online are standard 36" high islands.)
Suddenly I'm wondering if the short island with the skirt
will make the island look, for want of a better word, "stubby".

I'd ask your designer for help with a mock up.
At the least, draw the end profile (the view you see from the table) "life size"
to see how you like the proportions with and without the skirt.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Thanks francoise. Our island is a total of 34" so yes, the base no counter) is 2" shorter than standard...

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:21AM
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Fishies, you just buy stools and have the legs cut down.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:28AM
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Breezy, I am glad you linked to your old thread. I have been wondering why your island had the cut in on it. Just couldn't figure out why it was there from the pics you had posted so far.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Thoughts on my recent photos? I think I'm gonna tell cab guy to ditch the skirt , corbels or both!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:10AM
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I would go no skirt FOR SURE at your island height (will interfere with seated comfort), but would keep simple corbels like your 4th picture or 1st. Your overhang is too large to look finished without any kind of supports, IMO, and those simple unfussy corbels give an elegant finishing touch.

Breezy your island is spectacular btw; wow, those counters are heart-stopping!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:17AM
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You have to go with what you like.
But, if you are asking for opinions, I would still do the skirt.
For your kitchen, I like the skirted islands better than
any of the skirtless pictures you just posted,
even if it means you have to chop off more of the legs on your stools.
Those skirtless island are lovely.
But they feel more "transitional" and less "traditional".
Just my opinion based on how I read your style.
(Based on the long bead vs. no bead cabinets post.)
It will be lovely no matter because of your attention to detail.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:47AM
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The skirt will not interfere with anyone's comfort - just look at almost every table. Most have a 3-4" skirt set back 3-4" from the edge as your cabinet maker set back yours.

The ratio between the height of the seat and the height of the surface needs to remain the same for comfort - it has nothing to do with the skirt. You are going to need to find adjustable height stools to better fit a 33.25" to 34" finished height - the exact height depends on your choice for your counter material. The seat height should be about 12" lower than the surface height. So, instead of counter stools with a 24" seat height, you'll need stools with a 21-22" height. If you don't have the skirt, you'll STILL need stools with a 21-22" seat height.

It's important to understand that in your drawing, the CORBELS ARE THE SUPPORT, not the skirt.

The little skirt is purely decorative unless it is hiding stuff from Federal Brace or Counterbalance or similar. Both of those solutions are steel based countertop supports that would be hidden by the decorative skirt. They are firmly tied to the cabinets and in turn the cabinets should be firmly tied to the floor (this is usually done in the toe kick area).

An unsupported skirt without further structural components (like legs) would not be able to support a rock overhang of 13 inches at all - much less if someone where leaning on it.

And people will lean on it all the time - people push themselves up and out of the stools, push themselves away from the counter by using the counter and if they are taller may use the edge as a butt rest. Smaller people may conduct wars from its high command post, jump off it or otherwise find creative ways of integrating it into play.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:52AM
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So I can do a skirt and have no corbels. Using invisible braces.

Would that look okay?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:59AM
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OK, before anyone says anything cabinet guy just happened to have a need to stop in so we discussed island. We're going to keep the skirt and he's using invisible braces to keep the bottom cleaner instead of the corbels.

We did some measurements and we'll have to trim the stools but that's fine. Stools will need to be about 21".

I really feel glad about this. If it's too plain maybe we can always add something later but I feel better about the underneath being cleaner and stuff not in the way of stools, legs, etc...

Thanks! (even though I didn't do what everyone said here!) lol

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:40AM
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I really prefer the lighter, cleaner look of the first two pictures in your Oct 1, 9:06 post. And the Sept. 30 post. The simple ''leg'' corners and feet and the graceful but light corbels unify the top and base but aren't clunky. The bottom two pics in the Oct 1 listing have the bulky prominent corner ''legs'' that always look odd and pretentious to me. But this is personal preference, of course. For some people those work really well. And cabinet makers seem to love them.

How thick will your countertop be? If it is, let's say 1 1/2'' to 2'', can you have the cab maker put a piece underneath the edge to make it appear thicker if you want a heftier look?

What appears to be a 2 1/2 or 3'' top certainly wouldn't visually need an apron. And I would prefer the cleanness of this look to an apron inset underneath the top.

If you used slender corbels on the corners to unify the vertical island and the horizontal top, simple steel straps could be used invisibly under the wood top if it needs support on the overhangs.

RE: stools and lowered height counter--I agree with a previous poster that cutting down stools isn't a difficult option. FWIW, our kitchen table is 30'' tall and with the 1'' thick top and the 2'' skirt, the clearance underneath is 26''. The chair frames are 17'' tall and thick, soft cushions add 3 1/2'' to that, so there is about 6'' of clearance for the sitter's legs. I know I could easily have an extra 1'' to even 1 1/2'' of apron without constricting most sitter's legs--partly, of course, because the cushions compress.

Same as you would have, give or take, I think, with 24'' stools.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I would personally look at doing the skirt with skinnier legs, or just the simple corbels. Nothing says the legs have to be 8" tree trunks. You don't want to go too skinny, but 3" legs with an 2" apron (and stretcher bars under the stone from the island to the apron) would give you the "table" look that I think would suit the style of your kitchen the best. I understand about the loss of seating on the short end concerns you, but if that spot is designated for two kids or one adult, that could still work just fine.

The table look is just a homier and more casually inviting feel for a cottagey kitchen than the corbels. If your island were smaller, and more of a "cart" type island, then I think simple corbels like you show would suit it best. But, because of it's larger size and the overhang on the end and sides, I think the simple corbels that suit your kitchen's style aren't that matched to the island's size. Beefing up the corbels would be a false style note. Going with invisible steel support and no corbels would also be a false style note. The apron and legs is just perfect, style wise. It gives it that farm table feel. And, if you can adjust your seating expectations a bit, then I think it would be perfect functionality-wise as well.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:42AM
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