Kitchen islands for narrow spaces

I have been working on several kitchen projects lately - maximising living space seems to be at the forefront of people's minds as moving up the property ladder is becoming nigh on impossible in some parts of the country (believe me, I know!).   Incorporating an island is a great way to enhance the functionality and flow of a kitchen and, especially if it incorporates a hob or sink, can really help avoid those tight corners where everyone seems to gather at the same moment to make some toast / empty the dishwasher/ fill the kettle. 

source: 1909 Kitchens

source: 1909 Kitchens

Of course we'd all love something the size of this beauty, from 1909 Kitchens, but given the preponderance of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in our housing stock in the UK, with a long, thin kitchen at the back of the house, I'm guessing that this is not an option for most of us! 

Even if your kitchen is narrow though, you may still be able to fit in an island -- here are a few ideas and thoughts to help you figure out if it's possible.

source: Granit Architects

source: Granit Architects

Firstly, an island does not have to be particularly deep.  This one is only one unit deep - c. 63cm with an allowance for the counter (although the work surface does overhang), or alternatively, units designed for wall hanging can be used on the ground.  Placed back to back, these would create an island of c. 75cm deep.  Positioning a sink in an island in this way will require more tailoring of the cabinets, but it can be done. 

source: Roundhouse Kitchens

source: Roundhouse Kitchens

An alternative approach would involve using standard depth base units and backing them with shallow customised shelving for books or additional storage.  This is particularly useful if you want your island to house a hob or sink or if it has a living or dining area directly in front of it,  as it creates a 'buffer zone' between you and your guests or any small children. 

source: Cochrane Design

source: Cochrane Design

The island above is again apparently only the depth of a standard base cabinet.  In a multi-functioning room, creating a wrap around the island means you don't have to look at the dirty dishes while enjoying your dinner party! 

source: ServiceCentral Australia

source: ServiceCentral Australia

If you would like to incorporate some seating into your island, I think the above is a clever solution, giving more space for the stools than they would have received at the end of the island. An 80cm wide drawer unit has been placed across the end of the island, perpendicular to standard depth cabinets.  The 20cm difference creates an overhang to house the bar stools. This arrangement also means someone can reach into the drawers without getting in the way of someone working at the sink. 

source: welke.nl

source: welke.nl

This would also work where the space available is long and thin - although bear in mind that bar stools are only good for informal eating (can't see why you couldn't step the height of the surface down to a more regular table height though). 

source: Paul Massey Photography

source: Paul Massey Photography

source: Harvey Jones

source: Harvey Jones

Many kitchen ergonometric guides will suggest a gap of 100cm between an island and other units or a wall.  In a narrow kitchen, I think 90cm is still perfectly workable for most circumstances, particularly if you give due consideration to the position of the fridge-freezer and dishwasher, which tend to be crunch points.  Remember that you space will feel more expansive the more of the floor can be seen, so a footed island will always look less imposing that one that sits firmly on the floor and even a recessed kick plate, such as that in the image above, will make a big difference. 

Lots more kitchen inspiration on my Pinterest board

Contact me if you would like help in planning a kitchen that works for your needs and space.