How to Create a Kitchen Island With Limited Space

An island in the middle of your kitchen can provide the extra counter and storage space you need; however, you may have a challenge if you don’t have enough room for your typical island.
By following these generalized guidelines, you can determine if there is adequate space for an island in your kitchen and if not, improvise to make an island work in the space you have.

Step 1

Check your measurements for adequate spacing of an island. Permit 36 to 42 inches between your proposed island and the cabinets, if near a regular wall, and a minimum of 36 inches if near an appliance, but 42 inches is best.

Step 2

Mark on the floor with a chalk line your proposed island placement, and walk around the marked area to determine if you need to change edges or shorten the island.

Step 3

Plan your island with placement of sinks, cabinets, appliances, bookshelves, snack bars, wine racks or other options, and decide if space allows for these. If the space feels crowded, it will defeat the purpose of the island.

Step 4

Plan the height of your island to determine if it should be the same as the rest of the kitchen countertops (traditionally this way). Consider whether you want varying height levels with a snack bar, to take advantage of the limited space by building it higher instead of wider.

Step 5

Choose your base material and countertops. Determine if you will do the work yourself or hire it out, and consider the required skills and tools for the job.

Step 6

Measure the inside perimeter of the base cabinet and mark it on the floor. Set wooden cleats, or strips of wood, on the inside measurements on the floor. Find the appropriate method to secure the cleats to your type of floor (different method for tile than for wood, linoleum, etc.). Place a strip of construction adhesive to the outside edge of the cleats, and set the island cabinet over the cleats. Attach the toe kick at the base of the cabinet with a strip of construction adhesive and small finish nails every 6 to 8 inches. Attach your countertop of choice using the appropriate method (different for each type).

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Cabinet or base material of choice
  • Countertop material of choice
  • Wooden cleats
  • Nails and screws
  • Construction adhesive
  • Small finish nails
  • Hand tools

Tip

  • Alternatively, if space is too small for a traditional island, consider using a small utility cart or create a smaller portable island with a wood cabinet, small chest of drawers or shelf, and attach a butcher block or ready-made countertop. Add wheels to the cart if you want the flexibility to move it out of the room when desired. Another popular idea is to buy a portable dishwasher on wheels with a butcher block top. You can roll the dishwasher next to the sink to operate it, and then roll it back to the center of the kitchen for extra counter and work space.

About the Author

John Fechik has been writing since 2009. He owns a business in Michigan and is a licensed builder with over 35 years of experience in kitchen/bath design and cabinet making. He also has over 40 years of experience in the music and recording industry and buys and sells items on eBay. He has an Associate of Applied Science degree in orthotic/prosthetic technology from Baker College.