Space for Kitchen Island Seating

modern large dark wood and white island with seating for 5 with quartzite countertop

Updated January 8, 2024

An island is a must-have for most modern dream kitchens. They’re excellent places for food prep, for informal dining, and for family members to gather around and visit with the cook while they bustle about.

Yet if your island isn’t big enough, you won’t get all these lovely benefits—at least, not the way that you want to! Here’s what you need to know to make sure your island design is just right.

Related: Where to Start When Planning a Home Remodel

How much space do you need for island seating?

Every seat is going to take up about 24″ of space, so you’ll need to multiply the seating you want by that number to get the result. If you want to seat 6 people you’ll need an island that’s 144″ long.

Of course, not all chairs or barstools are 24″. Some are 16″, others are 18″, but we’re talking about the width of a person, shoulder-to-shoulder. And it depends on how big your family is and how free they are with their elbows. Some people will want 30″ of space per seat, just to be on the safe side.

Is a 10-inch island overhang enough?

No. you’ll need more space than that. The island overhang should be at least 12″ to 15″.It’s tempting to want to squeeze in an island where it doesn’t quite fit! But, don’t do it!

How much space do you need between an island and a counter?

You will need at least 42″ between your island and any counter.

Always measure your kitchen before planning on an island, because you’ll want plenty of room to maneuver and open cabinets and appliances.

How wide should kitchen island benches be?

If you’re adding benches instead of stools or seats, you need to make room for those, as well. Those benches are going to be 35″ to 45″ wide, and you’re not going to want to push them right up to the island. Allow a few inches of space between the island and the bench, and then account for the aisle space.

How wide should a kitchen island with seating be?

We recommend 3′ to 6′ depending on how much space you want for cooking, eating, meal prep, hang-out, and homework. Many homeowners have come to regret trying to squeeze a thinner island into their kitchen.

Don’t put one in just to have one. You want your island to be as functional as possible.

Related: Your Guide to Two-Tone Kitchens – Island and Cabinet Colors

Can you fit an island into your kitchen?

While an island isn’t right for every kitchen, we’ve been able to fit them into many spaces. Sometimes it’s a matter of creatively using the space that we have, and sometimes it requires us to move a wall or offer some other major overhaul.

If a kitchen island isn’t right for your space, we offer plenty of other alternatives. And we’ll make sure you don’t make any other remodeling mistakes!

Gallery: kitchen islands with space for seating

View our photo gallery of islands we designed with plenty of space for seating.

Kat Mullen

Kat and her husband, Scott Westby, own and run MSK Design Build, an award-winning design-build firm located in the San Francisco East Bay. With over 10 years of experience in design-build construction for high-end remodels, Kat enjoys sharing her knowledge, experience and expertise. Kat's favorite part of the design build process is hearing her client's vision for their home and helping to make their dream into reality.

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