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Kitchen Island vs Peninsula (Design Guide)

Welcome to our kitchen island vs peninsula design guide covering layouts, cost & storage ideas.
Open concept kitchen with marble countertop gray island white cabinets wood beam ceiling Choosing between a kitchen island or a peninsula has never been easier with this guide. Check below for information on the layout, costs, space requirements, storage and design or both a kitchen island and kitchen peninsula to help decide which is right for your kitchen.

Kitchen Island Layout

Contemporary kitchen with dark wood island gray cabinets white subway tile The layout of a kitchen island is typically relative to the work triangle theory. This theory is that the best functioning space (specifically a kitchen space) puts the main three elements (in the kitchens case: Sink, stove, Refrigerator) in a triangle pattern from each other, each leg being 4 to 9 feet apart.

The sum of the triangle is not to exceed 26 feet and should not be less than 13 feet. This puts all elements close enough, while still allowing for space to function. This path should not be blocked, especially not by tall objects. Including a kitchen island to this design is helpful to the last note. With an island being accessible from all sides, any additional people in the kitchen space can take up room on the opposite side of the island from the cook, leaving their path to the working triangle free of obstruction.

The kitchen island offers a great space for entertaining as well as serving. This layout is typically used in a more open design, often being the only separating factor from the dining room and the kitchen. This divides the two spaces while still keeping things open, and being able to communicate from the two spaces.

Kitchen Island Cost

Large kitchen with dining island quartz countertops off white cabinets The cost of the kitchen island is roughly $101 per square foot of counter space added. While this estimate includes basic countertops and cabinets, there are a ton of other factors that can affect the cost of adding a kitchen island to the space.

Adding a sink, specialized appliances, electrical outlets, larger overhangs, or using non standard shapes or materials can have a huge effect on the prices. Using granite or marble is going to be a significantly higher price than using a laminate or solid surface material as the countertop.

Wine coolers or dishwashers can be added to the island if not already in the kitchen, but the cost of the product and installation will need to be added. It is also important to think about the available space, if the kitchen is not already set up in an open area, will you have to remove any walls to get the kitchen island in the right location? Below explains the space that a kitchen island needs to be functional.

Space Needed for a Kitchen Island

Kitchen with dark gray cabinets island white quartz counters and teak flooring The space needed for a kitchen island is simply 36 inches on each side of the island that is in a walkway, and 42 inches in a workspace. This is not always the case though, if there is a fridge or a stove, or another appliance that is large and needs to be opened. If this is the case you need to check those dimensions to make sure they still have room to open with the placement of the kitchen island.

Additionally, just because those are the clearances, you also need to remember that the island itself is going to take up some space as well, and a lot of it. While most countertops are anywhere from 24 to 32 inches deep, islands have the opportunity to be double that if you so desire, because you can reach items from both sides of the counter. Read more about kitchen island sizes and guidelines here.

When having a deeper kitchen island it also allows for the opportunity to have a countertop overhang, which creates a space for stools and people to sit, opposite of the workspace. Some islands are also two tiered, giving another option for being deeper and taking up more space.

Kitchen Island Storage

Kitchen with two tone cabinets white gray island with storage wood accent ceiling Based on the size of kitchen island you get, as well as the appliances you chose for the island changes the amount of storage you will get in the project. Something needs to hold up the countertop, and typically it is storage cabinets!

This is great for a kitchen as there are a lot of things such as small appliances that need to be used and stored. Both base cabinets and drawers can be chosen, really of any type you so desire. These can even open on both sides if you want – offering a place to store items more related to the dining room versus just the kitchen since it is connecting the two spaces in most cases.

Kitchen Island Design

When it comes to the overall designing of the island there are a few factors to consider. Step one is to decide if the project is an entire kitchen remodel (or even a new build) or if it is just a kitchen island addition. In the cases of an addition, you typically want to try your best to match the existing cabinetry, if not this can cause the island to look a little out of place in the kitchen.

You could also take a different route and match finishes in the dining room (or other attaching space) to tie the island more to that area than the kitchen if so desired. In a total remodel or new build, the design of the countertop shapes and colors, woodworking and all the finishes can be completely new and freshly designed.

Kitchen Peninsula Layout

Modern kitchen with waterfall carrara marble peninsula and backsplash with white cabinets The layout of the kitchen peninsula also needs to follow the mentioned work triangle layout. The difference of the peninsula though, is that it is attached to the rest of the countertop space, and only have 3 open sides. This piece is commonly leading out of the kitchen, aiming to keep the guests out of the workspace. This type of layout is typically used in smaller areas.

Kitchen Peninsula Cost

Open kitchen with peninsula white quartz counters white cabinets The cost of the kitchen peninsula is roughly $90 per square foot of counter space added. While this estimate includes basic countertops and cabinets, there are a ton of other factors that can affect the cost of adding a kitchen island to the space. Peninsulas are a bit less likely to accommodate appliances or larger items in it that would drive the cost up too high.

Space Needed For a Peninsula

Kitchen with small dining peninsula gray cabinets The space that is required for a peninsula is much lower than needed for an island. These are commonly used din smaller kitchens. These requires the same 36 inch walkway clearance as well as the 42 inch workspace clearance. The peninsula can come in varying depth just like the island, allowing for guests to have stools.

Two tone kitchen cabinets with small peninsula and bar stool dining Kitchen design with small peninsula and eat-in dining.

Peninsula Storage

Unfortunately with the smaller size of many types of peninsulas, the storage is cut back significantly. There is also a dead space created in U shaped peninsulas, making some of the cabinets less easily accessible. This cuts down on storage, and also is a reason that not many appliances are typically places under peninsulas. These types of cabinets do allow for the cabinets to open up from both sides, which is a bonus.

Kitchen Peninsula Design

Contemporary kitchen with quartz peninsula Just like the islands, the overall designing of the island there are a few factors to consider. Deciding if the project is an entire kitchen remodel or new build, or if it is just a counter extension is a good starting spot. In the cases of extending, you want to match the existing cabinetry and counters. In a total remodel or new build, the design of the countertop shapes and colors, woodworking and all the finishes can be completely new and freshly designed.

To create your own kitchen layouts and experiment between using an island vs peninsula, take a look at our kitchen cabinet software recommendations here.

Written by Brooke

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