Choosing the Perfect Island & Seating for an Open-Concept Kitchen

Custom kitchen island with chairs built by Ryann Reed Design Build

With the popularity of an open-concept kitchen and the functional perks a kitchen island provides, it’s no longer a question of if you should add an island to your space, it’s more a question of which island. Kitchen islands provide an added place to conveniently serve your meals, relax as you munch on your favorite snack after work, store bulky kitchen appliances, or work at a comfortable countertop space to create your favorite dish. 

With all the beauty and functionality an island provides, deciding which is best for your kitchen remodeling project is a must. Here’s how: 

Open-Concept Kitchen Island and Seating Design Options 

Your kitchen is the gathering place of your home, and its centerpiece is the island. As you choose the perfect island for your needs, keep in mind that this is the significant spot where your family and friends get together to cook, dine, and socialize. 

What Is a Kitchen Island?

An island is a freestanding unit that adds storage space and countertop space to your kitchen. When you add an overhang to one side of your island, you gain additional seating capacity for your kitchen. 

The options are endless when it comes to a kitchen island! Some have a built-in microwave, and others have a pet food center. Some islands have a sink and added food prep space, while other islands are removable to offer versatility.

The best island for your needs depends on your desired design, function, and budget. Survey your available space, the style you desire, and the purpose you want for your island. 

Choose the Best Location for Your Kitchen Island

Don’t assume the island should automatically go in the center of your kitchen. Pick the ideal spot based on your island’s function. Keep in mind that there should be a seamless flow in your kitchen when it’s time to make a meal or clean up from one. The cooktop to the sink to the refrigerator should form a triangle. 

Make sure there is three to four feet of space around all sides to accommodate people walking through the kitchen. 

Decide IF You Want Seating at Your Kitchen Island

If you want space to serve meals on your island, choose seats that are proportional to the island’s height. 

  • Chair—The common kitchen chair works best with an island that is 28″ – 30″ tall.
  • Low stool—If your island is 36″ tall, choose a low stool for seating. 
  • Barstool—A classic barstool works best if your kitchen island is 42″ – 48″ tall.  

Plan on two feet of counter space for each person seated at your island. And don’t forget to add up to 13″ of legroom between the top of one’s knees and the bottom of the overhanging counter. 

Create a Space to Relax and Converse with Friends and Family

While many islands place all seats on one side, if you want to have family meals there often, planning an island where you face each other is doable. After all, facing in one direction doesn’t exactly spark conversation. 

  • Adjacent seating—Adding seats to two adjacent sides can make dining at your island more inviting. Simply extend the island overhang to two sides, and you can more readily see each other while eating together. 
  • Opposite seating— When seated on opposite sides of the island, guests will face each other and enjoy conversation with ease. For long, skinny kitchens, a long and thin island can create the opportunity for seating on opposite sides for one part of the island, while the other side serves as extra counter space, storage, and more. 

Find the Right Island Shape for Your Kitchen’s Space

Islands don’t have to be rectangular. Oval islands, “L” shaped islands, and “T” shaped islands are also possibilities, so consider the best design for your space rather than just assuming you’ll add a rectangular island. 

Select the Perfect Materials

The surface of your island should serve its unique purposes. Quartz is a great all-around choice as it is durable, low maintenance, and resists dirt and bacteria. If you plan to do lots of meal preparation, a butcher block top may be useful, and modern-looking stainless steel works well for cooling hot pans. 

Add the Features that “Wow” You

  • Boost your kitchen’s visual appeal—Consider a contrasting color for your island to make it stand out. 
  • Create a display area—Looking for the perfect place to display some of your favorite knick knacks? Why not add shelving on one side of the island to draw attention to some of your favorite things? 
  • Opt for a two-tier, multi-level island—If you love to cook dinner on one part of the island while your children play or do homework on another portion of it, a multi-level island may be the perfect fit for your family.

Increase Your Kitchen’s Storage Capacity

Tucking away those bulky kitchen appliances under your island creates a more clutter-free kitchen space and gives you more counter space to do meal prep. 

Build-In the Features You Love the Most

Add some extras to your island to customize it perfectly to fit your family’s needs. What does that look like for your family? It may mean installing a built-in microwave or adding electrical outlets to simplify your life. 

It’s Time to Live Your Dreams!

Your kitchen should be both beautiful and functional. It reflects who you are and provides a warmth that draws family and friends to gather and enjoy life together. When the heart of your home is outdated and its design no longer fits your needs, it’s time for a remodel. 

At Ryann Reed Design Build, we go the extra mile to enhance your Southeast Pennsylvania home so it reflects who you are. Our outstanding team installs only the finest materials—and we do it with precision.

Check out how our kitchen remodeling services can bring your kitchen dreams to life.