Planning a kitchen island with a counter: How to design a functional island kitchen

Kitchens with a cooking island are probably the most functional form of kitchen equipment and offer numerous design options. No wonder that many amateur cooks dream of it. When the kitchen island is equipped with a counter, cooking becomes a real experience for the whole family. Because counters with bar stools prove to be a very practical addition to the kitchen landscape that extends the seating. So nothing stands in the way of social evenings with friends. However, to ensure that there is sufficient freedom of movement when cooking and eating, a number of things should be taken into account when planning the room. We explain to you what is important and how you can optimally adapt the dimensions to the spatial conditions.

Plan kitchen island with counter: determine the dimensions

Kitchen island with integrated counter Country kitchen with blue kitchen cabinets and gray cooking island and gas hob

Many amateur cooks, especially when planning, ask themselves how big the cooking island should be. Most manufacturers advise to make a kitchen island with a counter no shorter than 1.5 meters and no longer than 4 meters. The minimum width of the kitchen island should be 80 cm, and the kitchen island without appliances – 60 cm. These minimum dimensions can vary, however, because lines and power cables often have to be hidden in the kitchen island. Accordingly, additional storage space must be provided for this. In addition, there are the spatial conditions: Rectangular or square rooms with at least 15 square meters are ideal for a kitchen with a cooking island. This kitchen facility can also be implemented in rooms with sloping ceilings and niches, as long as it is well planned.

Industrial style kitchen with island with stove and wooden counter

A kitchen island that is too small or too large poses a planning challenge. In small kitchens you hardly have any freedom of movement if you opt for a large kitchen island. Kitchen islands that are too long also mean longer journeys to work, which will make work processes even more difficult. A kitchen island that is too small, on the other hand, is impractical, offers hardly any storage space and cannot be used sensibly. We give you useful tips with which you can assess for yourself whether a cooking island makes sense in your own four walls and what dimensions it should be.

Plan a kitchen island without appliances with a counter

modern small Scandinavian kitchen in white and kitchen island with small counter made of wood in gray

The main determinant of the width is the purpose that the kitchen island with counter has to fulfill. If it’s a kitchen island with no appliances, just meant to maximize work surface and storage space, then you don’t need to worry about plumbing. But you should make connections for electricity, because on the kitchen island people often puree, prepare smoothies with the mixer or even bake bread in the bread maker. In the best case, you should also install USB ports that you need, for example, for a charging station for your mobile phone or laptop.

As a rule of thumb, you should plan at least 80 cm for the work surface and 40 – 50 cm for the counter on a kitchen island without appliances. Overall, the minimum width should be between 120 and 130 cm. You can save space in small kitchens by opting for a kitchen island with an integrated counter. Another option is the peninsula, which is attached to the kitchen on one side.

gray kitchen with white kitchen island without appliances with wooden bar

The length depends on how many people are in the kitchen at the same time, cooking or eating together. Singles who have a separate dining table can opt for a 1.5 meter long kitchen island. It offers enough seating for 4 people and more than enough cooking space. Families with children should also extend the kitchen island for each family member by a further 60 cm for each adult and by 30 cm for each child. For a family of four (2 parents, 2 children), a 2.6 meter long cooking island is ideal. So nothing stands in the way of cozy cooking evenings.

The distance between the fitted kitchen and the cooking island can vary between 1 meter and 2 meters. If your kitchen island has drawers or base units, the distance should be between 1.4 and 1.8 meters. This gives you freedom of movement, even if all cabinet doors are open at the same time.

Kitchen island with counter, sink and dishwasher

Kitchen island with counter made of wood in country house style design ideas for modern fitted kitchens from natural stone

If you want to equip your kitchen island with a sink and dishwasher, you should plan at least 60 cm for the sink. In addition, leave a margin of at least 15 cm so that water does not drip onto the floor when washing your hands. A kitchen island that is at least 1 meter (excluding the counter) wide and 1.7 meters long has proven to be optimal. Our tip: It is worth looking for a similar kitchen island in a furniture store to test legroom and seating comfort. So that your family and guests can sit comfortably at the kitchen island, the counter should protrude 60 cm over the edge. If you are planning an eat-in kitchen and do not want to set up a separate dining area, then you should make the counter as wide as possible. Conversely, if you have planned a family kitchen where everyone will prepare the food together and enjoy being together while cooking, then a 40 cm wide bar counter is sufficient. You cannot serve food on it, but the counter offers enough space for drinks.

When planning an island kitchen, you should also make sure that the sink is in close proximity to the refrigerator and stove. In this way you can optimize the workflow. Position the kitchen island so that it is not directly in front of the oven.

Kitchen island with stove and counter

modern kitchen with island with gas hob and white Corian worktop

If the stove is positioned in the kitchen island, it should be at least 1.5 meters wide and at least 1.8 meters long. It does not matter whether you have opted for gas, ceramic, electric or induction hobs. In an island kitchen with a built-in stove, the sink and refrigerator should be within easy reach. You should plan additional work space on both sides of the hob, as well as sufficient space for herbs, oil, etc. provide. As with the kitchen island with a sink, leave a 15 cm edge around the hob so that food or fat does not splash on the floor while cooking. While you prepare the food, the family can relax at the counter next to it.

Plan a kitchen island with an integrated counter

Modern kitchen with island with counter and kitchen sink worktop made of Corian and modern gray built-in cupboards

For all those who want a flexible room solution, the kitchen island with an integrated counter is available. It is a very functional variant, especially when space is limited, in eat-in kitchens or for island kitchens. You can use the available worktop as a work surface or, if you have friends over, serve starters and finger food on it. If you have an island kitchen in the living area, you can also set up a buffet on the kitchen island.

Kitchen island with counter: this is how you can effectively stage your new island kitchen

Fitted kitchen in industrial style with kitchen island with bar counter made of recycled wood

Island kitchen in a trendy industrial style

Fronts with a rustic look, simple design, kitchen handles made of black metal and worktops made of marble: the modern industrial kitchen presents an exciting mix of old and new. The eclectic kitchen design also has another great advantage: it leaves plenty of room for maneuver and you can add further kitchen elements later if you wish, without negatively affecting the overall appearance. On the contrary: new wall cabinets, shelves or kitchen accessories can effectively complete the eclectic kitchen landscape.

Kitchen island with wooden counter in modern country style, gray kitchen cabinets and granite worktop together with wooden threses

Design island kitchen in a country house style

In the past it was just an addition to the living concept, now the kitchen island has become the focal point of communication in the kitchen landscape. As such, it must above all be highlighted visually. Usually it is designed in a contrasting color or made of a different material. Popular material combinations for country kitchens are wood for the counter and natural stone such as marble or granite for the worktop. The cassette fronts lend additional country house charm. As for the colors, popular color combinations are dark gray and white, white and blue, or white and various wood nuances. Basically: white kitchen fronts let the dark gray or dark blue kitchen island stand out better. Kitchen islands made from recycled wood also emphasize the rustic look and ensure cosiness.

Plan a modern fitted kitchen with a cooking island with a wooden stove and thresher

Modern island kitchen

In contrast to the country house kitchen and the industrial style kitchen, the modern kitchen looks simple and elegant. The kitchen island blends harmoniously into the minimalist kitchen landscape, it is made from the same materials and colors as the fitted kitchen. The modern island kitchen is ideal for large living areas because it looks more like a decorative piece of furniture than a functional element. With its handle-less cabinet doors and simple fronts, it lets the living room furnishings come into their own.

Furnish a country-style kitchen with a kitchen island with a wooden counter and three dining areas

Functional family kitchen

If the kitchen is separate from the living area, the counter can completely replace the dining table. In these cases, the room should be designed in such a way that there are sufficient passages and that the cooks have quick access to all equipment. The kitchen island is therefore mostly used to prepare breakfast and is therefore only equipped with a sink, possibly also with cupboards and drawers that offer storage space for crockery and cutlery. The family kitchen looks great – it is functional, but very stylish at the same time. Most family kitchens present an exciting mix of modern country house style and Scandinavian charm. The color scheme is simple. In the family kitchen, the materials play the main role.

Would you like to have a cooking island with a counter in your new dream kitchen and are you looking for inspiration? We will be happy to help you and show you more inspiring ideas in the photo gallery below.

Family kitchen in the living area with stainless steel counter

Modern kitchen under a sloping ceiling with kitchen island with small counter without appliances made of wood and marble

Modern single-family kitchen with white worktop and blue cabinets

Scandinavian kitchen with integrated counter and worktop made of white Corian and wine cooler

Gray kitchen island with granite counter

large kitchen with long kitchen island without appliances with sink and granite worktop

Modern eat-in kitchen with bar counter

Kitchen island with counter Determine dimensions correctly Tips and design ideas for living areas

Family kitchen with island with glossy fronts

Functional fitted kitchen design kitchen island without appliances and there made of wood with seats for 2

Modern island kitchen with wooden counter

Modern country kitchen in white with a flat cooking island without appliances with an integrated counter and marble worktop

White kitchen with matt kitchen cabinets and wooden bar stools

Modern kitchen with island with integrated counter and bar stools

White and gray kitchen with adjoining dining area

Kitchen island with counter, plan a space-saving modern country kitchen and design a dining area

Modern peninsula kitchen with fireplace

Kitchen with fireplace and dining area design ideas for furnishings in white and gray and brass door handles and vintage pendant lights

Eat-in kitchen in gray with a counter made of recycled wood

Modern high-gloss kitchen with a kitchen island with a Threse made of recycled wood and a sink in black and a worktop made of natural stone

Furnish the kitchen in a French country house style

Kitchen island with counter Country house sink and dishwasher in the cooking island integrate country kitchen with white cabinets and gray kitchen island with two seats

Country kitchen with vintage bar chairs

Design kitchen island in country style with wood worktop and stove and storage space

Family kitchen with a glass bar counter 

Kitchen island with Therese bar made of glass. Counter without appliances. Tips on kitchen design with tiled mirrors and black wooden cabinets and dining area

Kitchen island with integrated wooden counter

Kitchen island with wooden counter and bar stools in modern country style with gray cabinets and white marble worktop

Modern kitchen island with stove, sink and dining area

modern white kitchen with wood island with stove and sink and breakfast bar and dining area

Puristic kitchen-cum-living-room with integrated counter 

Modern white fitted kitchen with integrated counter and seating for two

Kitchen island with wooden counter and natural stone worktop

Modern kitchen in black and white with kitchen island with counter take measurements properly plan

Modern peninsula kitchen with integrated counter

Modern Scandinavian kitchen with kitchen island without appliances with counter in dark blue and white

Light gray peninsula kitchen with dining area made of oak

Scandinavian kitchen in gray with oak kitchen island with dining area and bronze accents

White Scandinavian kitchen with island without appliances 

Scandinavian kitchen with kitchen island with integrated counter and white base units