No Man Is an Island

Seating in or near the kitchen is paramount to many people. Often remodels are centered around the introduction of an island into a space. However, clearances around a new island are important for your designer to figure out with you early on in the process. We often have clients who, to accommodate the desirable kitchen island, knock down the wall between the kitchen and an adjacent room, or more often eliminate a kitchen table to expand available space for a storage/seating combination.

However, the kitchen table is often the most important seating in the house: it’s where families eat, homework is done, stories are told, important conversations are had, memories are made. Many people want the benefits of an island but don’t want to give up the TRUE heart of their home – which isn’t the workspace in a kitchen, but the spot where friends and families all gather in the kitchen.

Thankfully, you can have your cake, and eat it, too! This is the perfect opportunity to consider adding an island with seating.

There are a few important decisions to consider upfront. First and foremost, what is the purpose of the seating? Maybe you want a spot to drink your coffee and read the paper/your email in the morning. Or will this be the place for the kids to do their homework after school? What about additional seating for guests when you entertain? Perhaps this will take the place of your kitchen table entirely, and most of your meals will be served casually on the island now. Or maybe you’re interested in resale and have heard islands with seating are a plus in the up and coming market.

So, purpose is the first question to ask yourself. Second, how many people do you want to be able to seat? You don’t necessarily need to know the exact number (a range will work just fine) but it is an important design question we will need to know. Designing space enough for two people to sit is very different than designing enough space for six!

Third, consider the height of the island seating. The three most popular heights are:

– Kitchen counter height: there is no change in height from your island countertop to the seating section, just one large flat surface. You’ll need stools to sit at this height.

– Bar height: your island has standard kitchen height counters, but where your seats are designed in, the counter is raised higher. You’ll need high stools to sit at this height.

– Table height: your island has standard kitchen height counters, but where your seats are designed in, the counter is lowered to allow for table chairs instead of stools.

The height is an important aesthetic factor to consider, but an even more important physical factor. Stools, especially those that are extra high, are more difficult for older – and younger – household members or guests to get in and out of.

If you don’t have enough room in your kitchen for an island, peninsulas are an alternative option, and also may present an opportunity for seating. Talk with your designer about what your intents and goals are as you consider an island or seating in your new design.

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