Kitchen islands have become somewhat of an essential kitchen item, especially in open concept homes. A well-designed island can provide an anchor for your kitchen’s design, integrate additional storage, house needed appliances, and even provide practical and useful seating.
With how versatile a kitchen island can be, it’s important to have a thought-out design for its use. One of the most important considerations is the seating. And trust us, true forethought goes far beyond sticking a couple of chairs at the end of the counter.
If you want a truly beautiful and functional kitchen with ample seating, we have some pointers for you.
Island Seating Considerations
Choosing the right style, material, and size of chairs or bar stools for your kitchen is one of the most fun aspects of the design process. And you’ll get there. But curating the perfect seating starts with the design of your kitchen island itself. So, before you get too excited about accessorizing, let’s break down some factors to account for when designing the perfect island seating arrangement.
Flow and Shape of Your Kitchen
Your kitchen seating needs to properly flow with your home’s layout. Depending on the shape and orientation of your kitchen, you’ll need various configurations to optimize seating.
In open-concept kitchens, this task may be simple, placing seating on only the side of the island that faces away from the kitchen itself and toward the rest of the home. But with less obvious designs, this may take more forethought. A large U-shaped kitchen might opt for an extended island that forms a table of sorts with seating on opposing sides. L-shaped kitchens may have L-shaped or rounded islands with seating on adjacent sides. And so on.
The possibilities are endless.
Kitchens experience a great deal of daily traffic. Nearly every household member enters the kitchen at least once a day. So you’ll want to keep all seating from obstructing the actual flow of the kitchen. Avoid placing seating near or around appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers.
And if the back of your seating faces a wall, walkway, or cabinetry, you should account for an additional 34-inch clearance once a seat is filled.
Number of Seats
How many people, and who, will actually be utilizing your kitchen seating? The actual size of your kitchen island will need to be scaled to your kitchen, but as a general rule, account for a 24-inch width minimum per seat.
Most often, island seating is an informal area used for quick meals or to connect with whoever is working in the kitchen. But for some homeowners, this will be a more formal area where many meals are shared. If this describes you, consider a more conversational setup. A rounded counter edge can help get seats closer to facing one another, while a table extension allows for seats to directly face one another.
If seating is a priority for your kitchen, then you’ll need to factor in the amount of overhang needed for your countertop. No one wants to have their knees cramming into the side of the island.
Typical countertops have 1 1/2 inches of overhang. But the side of an island designed to accommodate seating should have anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of overhang, with experts recommending around 15 inches. However, if your seating is designed at a barstool height, this number falls closer to the 12-inch mark.
Just remember that added overhang may require additional support to accommodate the weight. And those columns or beams need to be accounted for when measuring out seating.
A Built-in Bench
If your island countertop is flush with the island itself (i.e. no overhang), a great option is to build a bench on the back of your island. You can have a table and additional seating on the opposite side of the bench to create a built-in informal eating area.
Work with the Right Company to Achieve the Perfect Kitchen Design
Only you know the exact needs for your kitchen space, but a professional designer can help provide practical solutions that bring your design needs to fruition. Hopefully, we have done a good job of showing you that there is far more to kitchen seating than just buying chairs. You deserve a kitchen that can serve all of your needs.
At Lakeside Renovations and Design, we have both designers and construction professionals working on the same team to achieve the same goal. That way the whole team is able to help you think through the reality of your dream kitchen, including how the island will actually be used and how best to design it with the proper seating options.
Have fun brainstorming all the possibilities your kitchen could be. See our kitchen remodels photo gallery for some great inspiration.