Kitchen Clarity Adventures in Kitchen and Bath Design

Skinny kitchen island – to do or not to do?

10.29.2009 · Posted in Kitchens

The other day I was discussing the pros and cons of an  island in a long narrow kitchen with a client. Generally, I think if the best you can do is squeeze a 24″ wide island into a skinny room, you risk making the kitchen feel like  couple of  corridors, instead of a coherent space. But, like all rules, this one is probably made to be broken – at least in some cases:

via emmas design blog

via emmas design blog

This one’s really narrow, but at least it makes space for a real  seating area on the other side.  The layout is a little at odds with that lovely ceiling though, isn’t it? (via)

via emmas design blog

via emmasdesign blogg

The next two photos show the island standing in for one wall of a galley kitchen – yes, the space outside the kitchen is just circulation, but when the kitchen is the link from one space to another, this works really well as a way to keep traffic out of the work area.  It’s well worth sacrificing the upper cabinets that could have been on that wall for this kind of open feeling, don’t you think? (found here and here)

Jon Lum via DesiretoInspire

Jon Lum Architecture



In the room below, this island is clearly where it is because of the windows.  It’s not a conventional layout, but I bet it’s a great space to cook in. (via) I guess I’ve just proved to myself that I don’t mind the kitchen being two corridors, as long as one of them leads somewhere, or has a great view.

photo Roland Persson

photo Roland Persson

Should I throw away my “rule” about skinny islands?

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7 Responses to “Skinny kitchen island – to do or not to do?”

  1. Hi Robyn – shallow or built in storage on one wall just might give you enough room for an island and a more sociable layout – instead ofworking with your back to the room. Just make sure there’s room for people to pass behind someone working at the island (42″ clearance).

  2. We’re renovating a very lark, dark, eat in country kitchen which is currently L shaped. Having never done this before I’ve been researching for weeks…. I love the Ronald Persson photo above. What an interesting idea… we have recessed brick sections in the walls behind the existing cabinets. After seeing that photo I’m considering building shelving into the recessed areas and moving the main benchspace/cabinets (the long side of the L) off the wall & a into the space a little. Will have to think on it but it seems to provide a way to socialize whilst cooking without taking up too much additional space with an island. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Now that’s a touch of genius!

  4. Narrowest island I ever saw: a neighbor w/ a small kitchen had an antique wooden ironing board he set up as an island/bar when he entertained or needed extra landing space while cooking.

  5. Hi Jake and Bozena – you are right of course, it all depends on the situation and the layout. With our beloved NKBA having such a rules-based approach to design, it’s good to look at some situations where breaking the rule produces a great result. There’s a lot more to design than rules, isn’t there!

  6. Every rule can be broken (and some with great results, as the photos above are showing).
    Even with a skinny island, I love the opportunity of turning some of the workspace (prep, sink, cooktop) toward the room. It works especially well for kitchen with a great view.
    Thanks for giving me one more reason to break my design rules, too!

  7. I personally like this idea. In fact were using this type of island layout in our new project, where space is an issue. Also by rising such islands to, say 44″, you may even get a nice bartop :) of course, if you get a nice overall design… Ask your interior designer about this option.

    Jake & PaloArte