Kitchen Island or Peninsula – A Complete Design Guide

Incorporating a kitchen island into a design is one of the most popular requests I get from clients.

While kitchen islands are almost universally popular, they’re not for every kitchen. Sometimes, the size or shape of a room simply won’t allow for an island. The average room depth needed to comfortably fit an island is around 3.5 metres.

When this is the case, I often recommend a peninsula. While a kitchen island definitely has a wow factor to it, a peninsula design is a great option, too – one that’s often overlooked.

In this post, I’ll explain the difference between a kitchen island and peninsula, as well as look at the advantages and disadvantages of both. So after reading you’ll know which one is right for you and your kitchen space.

Let’s go!

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What Is The Difference Between A Kitchen Island and Peninsula?

While they can serve very similar functions, kitchen islands and peninsulas have one big (and quite obvious) difference: the layout.

A kitchen island is a standalone element in the space, surrounded by walking space.

Conversely, a peninsula is attached at one end to the kitchen cabinets or the wall and is open on three of four sides. Often, peninsulas continue the run of worktop into the room and away from the wall. Sometimes, peninsulas can be attached to the wall and come into the room. They often act as a separator between spaces in the home.

Kitchen Island

Kitchen with Island

Kitchen islands are loved by homeowners and designers alike. They add style and substance to a room, with both worktop space and a statement feature added to the room.

The functionality continues if you add a breakfast bar to your island. Having that space for your morning coffee, for the kids to do their homework, or for guests to enjoy a glass of wine while you cook is a real added bonus.

You also have the added bonus of additional storage. You can add a wine cooler, additional cabinets, a prep sink, or other features, either on or under the worktop.

While a kitchen island adds to a kitchen, it’s not for everyone. There are several things you need to consider when deciding on a kitchen island.

First, you need to know if you have the space to have an island. As a general rule, kitchens must be at least 3.5 metres wide to accommodate an island. This allows 1 metre between the island and your wall or cabinets.

Space can go the other way, too. If your kitchen island is too small for the space, or you allow too much space between the island and wall or cabinets, it can be difficult to manoeuvre.

You also want to think about the worktop you are using. If you have a big island, remember that the maximum size of a single slab of granite or quartz is typically 3 metres by 1.5 metres. Anything above this will require additional pieces, meaning you’ll be left with a seam on the worktop.

Finally, you need to consider the layout. Is an island really the most functional shape for your space? If you have a large open room, the answer could be yes! But if you have a small or awkwardly shaped space, you might want to consider your options. But don’t be disheartened – peninsulas are a great choice, too.

Advantages Of A Kitchen Island

  • Gives you extra workspace
  • Adds a stylish feature to the kitchen
  • Allows for more storage and gadget options
  • Can provide extra functionality
  • Can act as a full dining table or breakfast bar

Disadvantages Of A Kitchen Island

  • Takes up lots of room
  • Isn’t always the best use of space
  • Might require a seam on the worktop

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Kitchen Peninsula

U shape kitchen with peninsula

If an island doesn’t fit your design, then a peninsula might be a better choice. Peninsulas take up less space while maintaining many of the benefits of an island.

While most peninsulas are part of U-shaped kitchens, forming one side of the ‘U’, they can also be part of L-shaped kitchens. In this case, the peninsula is attached to the wall rather than a run of cabinets. This diagram explains the different types.

Like kitchen islands, peninsulas add storage, seating, and functionality to your kitchen. They also act as a separator in an open space, creating an open but clear distinction between rooms.

There are several things to consider when deciding if a peninsula is right for your kitchen.

Firstly, you need to think about space again. Some spaces are just too small for a peninsula, such as if you have a galley-style kitchen. Other kitchens are too big, and a peninsula would be inefficient and an eyesore.

There’s also the issue of wasted space. The area of the work surface where the peninsula meets the countertop becomes almost impossible to reach. With tight corners, users can’t get in there to work. It can also mean an awkward corner cupboard that needs some thought behind its design.

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Advantages Of A Kitchen Peninsula

  • Gives you extra workspace
  • Allows for more storage and gadget options
  • Can provide extra functionality
  • Can act as a dining table or breakfast bar
  • Provides separation of space

Disadvantages Of A Kitchen Peninsula

  • Not always the best option for very small or very big kitchens
  • Can make parts of the work surface or cabinets hard to reach
  • Can be less stylish and versatile than an island
Kitchen Island Ideas

Can You Have A Kitchen Island And A Peninsula?

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you might be asking yourself can I have an island and a peninsula? The answer is yes!

You’ll need to have a large kitchen for this to work, but if you’re lucky enough to have ample space then it’s certainly something to consider. It helps solve the challenge of too much space around the island or between the peninsula and worktops. It also allows you to maximise style, storage, and functionality in your space.

For instance, you could have a working island with a peninsula for seating. This keeps your island free for making dinner while the kids do their homework on the peninsula.

Your peninsula can also act as the divider to an open-plan space. Enrobing your island in a peninsula closes off the kitchen in a seamless way.

And having both an island and a peninsula means you’ll have room for the wine fridge, proofing drawer, and every other gadget you might need!

Kitchen with island and peninsula
Kitchen with a central island and peninsula seating area

Which Is Best, A Kitchen Island Or A Peninsula?

Many people dream of a kitchen island and there’s no denying it adds a wow factor to any kitchen. However, the size and shape of the room will ultimately determine if a kitchen island or peninsula is best for you. You don’t want the ‘wow’ factor to be ‘wow, this feels cramped!’

If you have the space and love the look of an island, then go for it. However, if it’s not quite right for your design, don’t be disappointed by a peninsula. They can be just as beautiful and practical as an island. And if it makes sense for your space, then it really is the best option.

Top tip: Remember that the perfect kitchen is the perfect kitchen for you. If it suits your needs and you love it, then it’s the best kitchen it can be.

Final Thoughts…

Island or peninsula, peninsula or island? The choice is yours.

In some ways, it’s like choosing between the Iberian Peninsula or the island of Iceland – both are excellent holiday destinations that you’d love to visit. It’s just a matter of which you prefer and what suits your style.

So now it’s time to decide and get designing. Bon voyage!



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.