Thanks to Pinterest boards and home renovation TV shows, it’s almost impossible not to catch the renovation bug. Many people find the idea of completely transforming the heart of the home particularly alluring. A 2018 survey conducted by Home Depot found that 33 percent of new homeowners are most likely to start with the kitchen when planning home projects.

Adding a kitchen island is one of the most popular renovation trends. However, there’s a lot to consider before changing the layout of a kitchen, as it is one of the most intricately designed rooms in a home.


The design of a kitchen island is heavily reliant on its purpose. For example, is the island going to be used for seating guests, or is it strictly for preparing meals? Keep these design rules in mind based on what you decide:

Entertaining: Small kitchens are not ideal for an entertainment island. The countertop needs to be long and wide to provide enough room for serving or dining. There also needs to be enough space on all sides for cooking and mingling.
Cooking: Islands meant for cooking need to be longer to have enough room for appliances like a cooktop or range. They should enhance the natural flow of the cooking process for at-home chefs.
Meal prepping: Large, uninterrupted surfaces are best for islands meant for prepping meals. These islands typically have a prep sink at one end and a dishwasher below for quick and easy cleanup.

If you want an island that does it all, remember that running utility lines such as gas, electric, and plumbing will increase your project cost.

Space and Storage

At minimum, a kitchen island should be 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, leaving enough room for people to move and work around it. Additional space is needed if you plan to include appliances and a seating area. These are some general measurements to follow:

Space: To comfortably fit an island, kitchens should be at least 8 feet deep and more than 12 feet long.
Seating: Guests should have 18 inches of space above the knee when seated at a 34 12-inch-high counter, 15 inches at a 36-inch-high counter and 12 inches at a 42-inch-high counter. The countertop should be long enough to allow 24 inches of elbow room for each seat.
Storage: Because kitchen islands take up so much space, it’s smart to utilize any opportunities for storage. Typically, one 24-inch base cabinet and one 12-inch back to back will accommodate most under-island functions.


Proper lighting for islands should be directly overhead. Ambient light will cast shadows over your workspace, making it difficult to prepare meals and entertain guests. The most common above-island lighting is pendant lighting. However, you’ll have to be cautious when choosing these as it’s easy to end up with the wrong height.

Recessed lights are another popular option, however if the distance between your countertop and ceiling is greater than 6 feet, you’ll need fixtures or bulbs specifically designed to project light down.

Kitchen Island Ventilation

Ventilation is essential in any kitchen and especially important when designing a kitchen island. There are a few ventilation options available to homeowners.

Downdraft fan: Installing a downdraft fan behind the cooktop solves the visual problem caused by an overhead hood. Include a second exhaust fan mounted in the ceiling to help air out your kitchen. This will also limit the amount of condensation on your windows while cooking during colder months.
Overhead hood: An overhead hood extends through the ceiling and becomes the dominant element of the kitchen design. Though they can make a statement, overhead hoods are expensive, and their large size can ruin the aesthetic of having open space above the island.

Design the Kitchen Island of Your Dreams with DMG Design+Build

If you have plans to renovate your kitchen in the New Orleans area by adding a beautifully designed kitchen island, bring your ideas to our designers at DMG Design+Build. We’ll work with you to understand your vision for the project and combine that with our expertise to build a space you’ll love!