Kitchen Island Longer Than Cabinets? (Best Sizes For You)

Modern housing has introduced the idea of kitchen islands into everyday life now. A kitchen island is the perfect set piece to decorate and utilize one’s kitchen space. But the question arises, can a kitchen island be longer than cabinets?

All islands are cabinets, but not all cabinets are islands.

To clarify, a kitchen island is a detached cabinet that is usually situated in the middle of the kitchen space, if not near the sink and oven. Kitchen stools can be around it for extra seating. It can also include essential storage drawers or cabinets and can be used to place your culinary appliances.

A cabinet, on the other hand, is the built-in furniture installed around or hugging the walls. Appliances such as freezers, dishwashing machine, and ovens are often combined into kitchen cabinetry.

Can a kitchen island be longer than cabinets?

Naturally, the question arises, what should be the island to cabinet proportion? Should the island be taller, longer, and wider than the cabinet? Or should they be smaller? Or would it be more beneficial to have them equal in size?

To put it simply, a kitchen island can be longer than the cabinets. However, it mostly depends on the kitchen space, size, and what the user/client wants out of it.

In other words, dimensions and functionality are key when it comes to considering the proportions of kitchen furniture. If you seek a focal point in your kitchen area, add some extension to your kitchen island. The extra seating arrangements, and additional storage and amenities- a longer kitchen cabinet is the better choice for you. Also, storing your dish cleaning supplies inside your island cabinet is a smart solution to get rid of lot of mess around your cooking and sink area.

Contradictorily, if you would rather have an open, airy space with a minimalistic atmosphere, making the island shorter than your cabinet is the wiser option. There is no set rule when it comes to arranging your kitchen furniture, whatever applies to your needs- that is what you should focus on. If that is having a long kitchen island, so be it.

Kitchen Island Vs. Cabinet: Difference between the two sizes

A kitchen island is its own piece, generally unconnected from other kitchen equipment. It usually takes the mid-space of the kitchen. A cabinet is connected with other kitchen appliances and fittings and is usually around the corners, facing the wall. The distinction is made clearer when comparing sizes.

Read more about the difference between kitchen island and a base cabinet.

A kitchen island should ideally be 80 x 40 inches (2000mm x 1000mm), but the possibilities are endless. The decision should be determined by the shape and size of the space. Every island does not need to be bulky with a seating zone. If you have a smaller space, prep islands that are small and compact can work well.

A kitchen cabinet is usually 34.5-36.5 inches tall, depending on countertops. The depth of the average cabinet falls around 24-26 inches, with the width being anywhere from 12 to 48 inches. The industry tends to have a standard size when it comes to kitchen cabinet width and height. However, it is advised to work with the proportions supplied by your cabinet manufacturer.

Benefits of having a long kitchen island

The benefits of having a long kitchen island far outnumber the problems you might face with one. To start with, a kitchen island is added for its increased functionality. So, a longer kitchen island means you literally and figuratively have more that you can do. Other benefits include

  • Extra seating
  • Can be a focal point when entering room
  • Provide additional amenities such as extra storage

Basically, the island becomes your oyster, that you can do whatever your heart desires with it.

Problems you might face for having a long kitchen island

The proverbial other side of the coin when it comes to having a long kitchen island follows accordingly. It can ironically be too long, which would take up precious kitchen space. If you are working with a tight, constricted area, a longer island might be impractical.

Other problems include

  • Can be visually jarring
  • More maintenance to keep it clean and functional
  • Disrupt the workflow with too many things going on.

The problem with impractical long kitchen islands is that they tend to be purposeless with their wrong sizing, therefore rendering the original intention of having a hands-on, everyday kitchen space useless.

Can a kitchen island be too long? 

Yes, a kitchen island can be too long if it disrupts the kitchen workflow, it’s too long. If it makes walking around the space obstructive, the sizing is incorrect and should be reconsidered. A kitchen island should accentuate and polish the whole ambiance of the kitchenette, not be a hinder to daily life activities.

In the least, an island should be 4 feet long and around 2 feet deep, keeping in mind room for people to move and work around it. Unless the kitchen is to the minimum 8 feet deep and more than 12 feet long, an island is ill-advised.

On the other hand, too much space between an island and the worktop and/or cabinets can feel disruptive and impractical. Note that having a space of 60 inches (1.5m) or more can feel too spacious.

Also check: Can kitchen island be too big?

Ideal kitchen island sizes

If the purpose of the kitchen island is mainly food preparation and cooking, 36 inches is a suggested typical height. Seating at a 36-inch-high island is somewhere between an average kitchen table seat and characteristic bar stools. Professionals recommend 42 inches for an island that is used mainly for seating and/or eating

 A comfortable counter is usually 42 inches in height for 30-inch-tall seats. Make sure to allow 24 inches of width per person/seating and 18 inches of countertop overhang for leg and knee room.

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How wide should a kitchen island be?

Many kitchen islands are about 2-3 feet wide, but more counter or seating space is needed; you can go a little bigger. If you also want a cooktop or sink on the island, budget around 7 feet.

How deep should a kitchen island be?

It should be at least 2 feet deep. Leaving 3 feet of floor space on the ends of the island is good, so there’s enough room on all sides to move around.

What is the minimum space around a kitchen island?

A kitchen island Ideally has 42-inches of space on each side for optimal movement and appliance use, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) guidelines. An aisle can be 36-inches if it’s meant for walking only, but that would cause that side to be useless for preparation making. Seating along an island is also great, unless it restricts the walkway.

It should be kept in mind that the function of an island is to have all sides open to work on. If you do that math, this requires a kitchen that is at least 12.5 to 13 feet from wall to wall. This means the room can accommodate cabinets on each wall, a walkway on each side, and a standard depth island. If there is not enough space, you’ll end up bumping into everything more than anything else. 

Kitchen island seating dimensions

A general rule of thumb is to go by is 24 inches (60cm) per person. This allows for sufficient leeway to sit contentedly and not feel like claustrophobic. If space is at a premium, you can make do with a little less at 50cm – particularly if the seating is going to be mainly used by kids.

For 2 persons

If you want to seat two people, you should be looking at having an island length of around 1.2m (60cm x 2 = 1.2m).

For 3 persons

If you want to seat three people, you should be looking at having an island length of around 1.8m (60cm x 3 = 1.8m).

For 4 persons

If you want to seat four people, you should be looking at having an island length of around 2.4m (60cm x 4 = 2.4m).

For 6 persons

If you want to seat six people, you should be looking at having an island length of around 3.6m (60cm x 6 = 3.6m).

For 8 persons

If you want to seat eight people, you should be looking at having an island length of around 4.8m (60cm x 8 = 4.8m).

Extra tip: If there isn’t enough space for the number of seats needed all along the back of the island, think about having an L shaped overhang on two sides of the island. This way, you can still seat more people but will not need to have an island as long.

You can easily find the small kitchen islands available in store. The big ones that can fit 6/8 people or more need to be custom made according to your kitchen.

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The combination of kitchen island and cabinet can be the perfect, final piece for a modern kitchen. It allows more workspace, accentuates the aesthetics, and provides more functionality.  To achieve complete efficiency, it is better to match the proportions of the cabinet and island. There is no rule that says an island has to match the cabinets dimensions it accompanies. Consequently, if the need or want arises, the kitchen island can be longer than the cabinets.

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