A properly-sized island can make the difference between a functional and an exasperating kitchen. The island affects the kitchen's traffic flow and convenience, and must be carefully planned.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends that the space between the island and adjacent counters or appliances should be at least 42 inches for one cook and 48 inches for two or more.
Walkways that pass by the island but aren't part of the kitchen workspace should be at least 36 inches wide. If the walkway is behind an island seating area, it should be 44 inches wide for easy passage.
Islands should not interfere with a kitchen's work triangle, an imaginary line from the cooktop to the sink to the refrigerator. The NKBA says cooks should not have to walk more than a foot around the island to get from one work area to another.
Tim Carter, a builder and nationally syndicated columnist, suggests the maximum island size should be 6 feet deep and 10 feet long.