Last year we replaced our kitchen cabinets, but it doesn't take us long to run out of storage. Now I'm thinking of putting in a kitchen island, but I don't need the rock of Gibraltar consuming my house. Do you recommend rolling islands or are we better off with an island anchored to the center of the kitchen?
Maya K. ~ Atlanta, Georgia
If your home's floor plan has adequate room for a kitchen island, then I recommend installing a fixed unit with under-the-counter kitchen cabinets for storage and an overhanging countertop, which will give you extra work space and a nice seating area for 3 or 4 people. I find that many of the available rolling units depend on shelves and wire baskets for storage, which often become cluttered and messy, and the rolling units are often to small to properly seat a group of people.
When determining an appropriate size for a kitchen island, there are a few important factors to consider. First, there should be at least 36 inches of clearance around all sides of the island, as this will allow several people plenty of space to work in the kitchen. An ideal width for a kitchen island countertop is 42 inches, which accommodates a standard depth base cabinet with enough room to store chairs or stools when they are not being used. Kitchen islands can be taller that the standard 36 inch countertop height, in which case you use bar stools instead of chairs, but I think it looks best when you match the height of the kitchen island to the height of your existing countertops.
If you determine that your kitchen is too small for a fixed island unit, then try to purchase a rolling unit that has enclosed storage and a large counter top work surface. Good luck and enjoy your new kitchen island!