This is probably the number one question I get as a designer when clients want to redesign their kitchen especially if the kitchen is small. Having a kitchen island isn’t always possible in small kitchens, you might be surprised to find that the limiting factor is not the overall size of the kitchen, but the actual space around the island.
Here we have a typical u-shaped kitchen layout and this middle area is our invisible island.we need to determine how much space we need to keep around the island,this is called circulation space and the rule is 36 inches in width.consider it like a corridor so that means from the edge of our kitchen countertop to the edge of what will be the island we’ll need to keep 36 inches.
However there is an exception to this way wherever you have major appliances along that corridor such as a stove, a dishwasher or a fridge.you need to increase that clearance to 42 inches.this allows you to easily open the appliance stores with some extra room to maneuver around the island and use those appliances comfortably.
(Please see the picture)
now whatever is leftover in the middle is our potential Island. in this case I have about 36 inches left over in width.I’d say 20 inches is the minimum depth you’ll want for your island.anything smaller than 20 inches will be rather ineffective.
you may want to extend the space even further,so long as you maintain wide enough entrances into your kitchen on either side of your island.