Kitchen Islands With Seating – Advice, Ideas & Inspiration
Kitchen islands are still one of the most requested design features my clients ask for when undergoing a kitchen renovation. And, kitchen islands with seating are high up on that list.
It makes sense too, not only can a kitchen island be a great functional design asset, but having seating at the kitchen island is the perfect way to create an informal social area.
Let’s be honest, we always end up in the kitchen at parties, so what better way to sit, chat and have a drink than at the kitchen island.
In this post, I’ll go over what you need to consider when planning seating at a kitchen island, as well as look at some great examples of kitchen islands with seating for some ideas and inspiration.
Let’s get into it!
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Does A Kitchen Island Need Seating?
Absolutely not. Kitchen islands can be designed in all sorts of shapes, sizes and functions.
It may be that you don’t quite have enough room for seating, or you have an open-plan kitchen living area and simply don’t need or want additional seating.
There are lots of reasons why you might not want seating on your kitchen island.
Kitchen island design and what you include on your island (seating, sink, hob etc..) are down to personal preference and if there are any limiting factors to the room.
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How Much Space Do You Need Per Person For Seating At A Kitchen Island?
You should allow at least 50-60cm (20-24 inches) of countertop space per person for kitchen island seating. This gives enough room for most bar stool styles to fit and enough elbow room to sit comfortably and not feel cramped.
A little bit more space than 60cm is great if you don’t need to maximise the number of seats on your kitchen island. It can feel quite nice and spacious with a bit more room and is better suited if the kitchen island seating is used more by adults.
Alternatively, if the kitchen island seating is primarily used by kids then you could fit more bar stools in the same space, allowing the smaller 50cm of space between them.
How Much Overhang Should Kitchen Island Seating Have?
Kitchen island seating should have an overhang of between 20-30cm (8-12 inches).
This should allow enough room to tuck your knees under the countertop comfortably. Taller individuals may find it more comfortable with the larger 30cm overhang. (I know I do and I’m 6ft 2in)
However, the amount of overhang you can have will depend on the material type and thickness of your countertop.
A general guide for solid surface countertops such as Quartz, Granite and Marble is:
- 12mm thick = 20cm (8 inches)
- 20mm thick = 25cm (10 inches)
- 30mm thick = 30cm (12 inches)
These are the sizes for an unsupported overhang (ie. no brackets underneath supporting them). If you are happy to install brackets then these overhang sizes can be increased.
However, if you increase the overhang more without any supports you run the risk of the worktop snapping if too much weight is applied.
What Height Should A Barstool Be For Kitchen Island Seating?
For counter height kitchen island seating, you should have a bar stool that is between 62-72cm to seat height.
As the average height to the underside of a kitchen countertop is between 87-89cm your bar stool height should allow sufficient room for your legs to be able to tuck underneath comfortably, while still being tall enough that your arms rest naturally on top of the countertop.
You should aim to have between 15-30cm of space from the seat top to the underside of the countertop.
For raised breakfast bar height kitchen island seating, you should have a bar stool that is between 75-85cm to seat height.
Raised breakfast bar seating at kitchen islands tends to be about 15-20cm higher than the standard countertop height, making them between 102-109cm to the underside of the worktop. However, these heights can vary quite a bit depending on the kitchen design.
Because of this, you should use the same principle of allowing around 15-30cm of room from the top of the bar stool seat to the underside of the countertop, to allow a comfortable amount of room for your legs.
Kitchen Island Seating Variations
When it comes to kitchen island seating there are a few variations on how to fit the seating around the island. It’s not just about everyone sitting in a line on one side.
Consider L-shape seating to create a more social environment where you can talk to everyone more comfortably. And, if you want to maximise the number of seats around your kitchen island then consider U-shape seating.
For some inspiration and ideas. I’ve put some kitchen island seating design options along with the size of the island required below:
How Wide Should A Kitchen Island With Seating Be?
The width needed for a kitchen island with seating will vary depending on the number of seats required.
You will need a kitchen island at least 1-1.2m (40-48 inches) wide to be able to seat two people.
Kitchen islands 3m (10ft) wide could seat as many as 8 people if designed with a U-shaped seating area and assuming a depth of 1-1.2m (40-48 inches).
Kitchen island size needed for the number of seats:
- Seat 2 = Kitchen island width of 100-120cm (3-4ft)
- Seat 3 = Kitchen island width of 150-180cm (5-6ft)
- Seat 4 = Kitchen island width of 150-240cm (6-8ft)
- Seat 5 = Kitchen island width of 200-300cm (6.5-10ft)
- Seat 6 = Kitchen island width of 200-360cm (6.5-12ft)
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Kitchen Islands With Seating Ideas
Now, let’s get some more ideas and inspiration from these great designs featuring kitchen islands with seating.
Small Kitchen Island With Seating For Two
A great example of a small kitchen island designed for two seats. It just goes to show that kitchen islands don’t have to be huge to have seating (or be practical).
This island is around 1-1.2m in width and perfectly fits two seats on the back as well as a small sink and prep area to the side. A lovely little social hub for any small kitchen.
Large Kitchen Island With Seating For Five
Kitchen island seatings goals. A lovely large kitchen island and five seats with plenty of room (over 60cm) between one another. This is a classic kitchen island seating design and one that many of my clients ask for.
It creates a nice clean, contemporary look to have the seating in a line like this and helps to maintain a uniformed shaped island.
Kitchen Island With L-Shaped Seating
Personally, my favourite way to include seating on a kitchen island. This L-shaped seating design means you can seat more people in a smaller area. This leaves some nice big areas of open countertop space for prep, a sink or a hob.
I also find that seating on a kitchen island designed this way is much more sociable, as you can face each other more comfortably. Rather than everyone in a long line trying to look past one another or not be able to talk to the people at the ends.
Kitchen Island With U-Shaped Seating
A great example of U-shaped seating at a kitchen island. This layout maximising the number of seats you can fit around your kitchen island. Especially if the island width isn’t that long.
Just make sure to allow some overlap space for the people sitting at the ends/corners. In this kitchen above, you could, technically, fit four stools along the back but then that would create an overlapping seating/countertop space with the stools on either end. Making it a little too cramped.
Kitchen Island With Breakfast Bar Height Seating
This kitchen island features a breakfast bar height seating area. This raised section helps to create a barrier between the back of the sink and the social seating area. Handy to help stop any splashes getting on your guests while you’re doing the washing up. Equally effective if the hob was on the island, to help stop cooking splashes.
Just remember that if you create a breakfast bar height seating area on your kitchen island you will need taller bar stools to be able to sit comfortably at the taller height.
Are Kitchen Islands Going Out Of Style?
No, kitchen islands are not going out of style. In my opinion, kitchen islands provide lots of excellent benefits, both from a practical and a design/aesthetic standpoint.
They are not a fad or trend that will disappear in a few years as they can add so much value to a kitchen design and users experience.
Colours and different kitchen styles (glossy, matt, wooded etc..) will come and go out of style over the years but a good kitchen layout and design (such as the kitchen island) will stand the test of time.
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There you have it. Advice, ideas and inspirations for kitchen islands with seating.
Kitchen islands provide practical workspace and can give the room a real ‘wow’ factor. While kitchen islands with seating take those benefits and add the social hub element to your kitchen.
It’s no wonder kitchen islands, and especially kitchen islands with seating are so popular.
So, are you going to add seating to your new kitchen island design?
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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.