Kitchen Island Overhang: Understanding the Perfect Amount

Kitchen island overhang refers to the portion of the counter that goes beyond the edge of the island’s base. Because kitchen islands are such an important element in modern kitchens, it is important to get the amount of overhang right. 

Title: Kitchen Island OverhangView in gallery
Riverside Homes Custom

The overhang is not just decorative. Rather, it is important in protecting the cabinets and chairs from wear and tear.

Kitchen Island Overhang

Kitchen Island OverhangView in gallery
Lorin Hill, Architect

 The standard amount for the overhang of the counter is anywhere from 1 inch to 12 inches. This calculation is dependent on the uses of your kitchen island, the clearance around the island, and the size of your kitchen. 

Purposes of a Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands have a variety of purposes, and it is helpful to consider these before calculating the amount of counter overhang. 

Kitchen Islands with Seating

Kitchen Islands with SeatingView in gallery

Seating is very popular and convenient for islands in modern home kitchens. It is essential to have the correct amount of overhang to ensure comfortable seating. This design, from The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, features an island that is used for food preparation and seating. The overhang on the side with the chairs is considerably more than on the other three sides.

Kitchen Islands Without Seating

Kitchen Islands Without SeatingView in gallery

Sometimes, seating will not work in your kitchen or you may have enough seating elsewhere. Instead, your island is used for storage and food prep. Consider this kitchen from Michael Robert Construction. There is a medium-toned gray island with ample room for prep and storage without extra counter overhang. 

Spatial and Style Considerations

Spatial and Style ConsiderationsView in gallery

The kitchen in this photo from Designer’s Choice Inc. features an island within a modest-sized kitchen. To allow ease of movement around the island, there is no overhang. Also, this kitchen has a modern design which often features islands with minimal or no overhang. In contrast, more traditionally styled kitchen islands have some counter overhang. 

Clearance Around the Kitchen Island

Make sure that whatever overhang you plan for your kitchen island, there is ample room for walkways, work areas, and appliances. 

Clearance for Islands with Seating

Clearance for Islands with SeatingView in gallery

In general, you need at least 36 inches behind the seating in order to get the chairs/stool in and out from under the counter. Also, you should allow at least a 45-60 inch clearance if there is a walkway behind the seats. For example, this farmhouse kitchen from Everingham Design allows ample clearance behind the seating. 

Clearance for Work Areas

Clearance for Work AreasView in gallery

The kitchen is a busy place and the calculation of the overhang should be considered to give the most clearance for work areas and easy accessibility of appliances. Work areas near the stove and sink should be as much as 42 inches wide for the best working environment, more if there are multiple cooks. This traditionally styled kitchen from RR Builders, LLC allows plenty of clearance around the central island. 

How to Calculate the Size of a Kitchen Island Overhang

How to Calculate the Size of a Kitchen Island OverhangView in gallery

Now that we have seen some of the common uses, styles, and clearances needed for a kitchen island, let’s get into some numbers. If you are planning seating at your island, the standard counter overhang is 12 inches.

However, some designers plan 15 inches for maximum comfort. If you want a 15-inch overhang, it is recommended to add extra support under the counter. Consider the side supports under this counter in this kitchen from Shophouse.

design style of the kitchenView in gallery

If you have an island that you use only for prep and storage, the standard amount of overhang is 1 inch. However, this can be adjusted according to clearances, kitchen size, and the design style of the kitchen. Notice the wide clearances and standard minimum overhang on this island without chairs from the kitchen by Amy Storm & Company

Kitchen Island Size for Two Stools

Kitchen Island Size for Two StoolsView in gallery

While the typical kitchen island size varies, there are some guidelines we can follow. The standard kitchen island size is around 24 inches wide. For seating, make sure to have at least 24 inches per person.

Therefore, the best size for a kitchen island with seating for two is 24 inches by 48 inches. Further, make sure to calculate the extra counter overhang for comfortable seating. This kitchen from HDR Remodeling, Inc. features a standard island with seating for two. Also, notice the side supports for the counter over the chairs. 

Kitchen Island Size for Three Stools

Kitchen Island Size for Three StoolsView in gallery

The kitchen island size guidelines for three stools require 24 inches by 72 inches. This leaves ample seating room between each stool or chair. This kitchen from Kleweno features a unique seating arrangement for three stools. The island has a table-style extension from the side of the island. One stool sits at the end with two on the side. There is ample overhang and support in both directions for comfortable seating. 

Kitchen Island Size for Four Stools

Kitchen Island Size for Four StoolsView in gallery
Designsbykareninc

The average size kitchen island for four stools is 24 inches by 96 inches. Rustic industrial stools pair well with this traditional farmhouse kitchen. The butcher block countertops on the island contrast with the white marble and hang over the seating for comfortable movement. 

Small Kitchen Island Size

Small Kitchen Island SizeView in gallery
Design: Garrison Hullinger

For narrow kitchens, it may be best to forgo seating altogether. This kitchen has a galley shape with a narrow center aisle; therefore, seating at the island would make movement in this kitchen difficult. However, you want to make sure that you still have the proper overhang to protect the cabinet or storage below the island. 

Large Kitchen Island Size

Large Kitchen Island SizeView in gallery
Martin Moore Kitchens

If you have a large kitchen, an oversized kitchen island may be the best way to add more seating, prep area, and storage. The island in this transitional kitchen from Michael Moore Kitchens has it all and great style too! Also, notice the more ample overhang on the sides with the chairs. 

FAQ

What is the height of a standard island?

The standard height for islands is 36 inches. However, some recommend that the height be raised to 42 inches if you dine regularly at the island. If you have a bar section on the island, these are also 42 inches tall. 

Where should I have cabinets on the kitchen island?

The more storage you have on the island the better. However, if you are using an area of the island for seating, your storage should be limited to only the areas without seating. If you must have cabinets in the same area as your seating, make sure you only use these cabinets for items that you do not need to access often. 

What are the advantages of appliances in a kitchen island?

Many people prefer to have appliances like the stovetop on the kitchen island because you can face people sitting on the other side of the bar while cooking. However, be aware that placing a stove near a seating area can be dangerous for small children. A sink on the island is useful for prep and serving. 

How do I change the overhang on my kitchen island?

It is difficult to change the overhang on an island after the counter has been installed. The most seamless option is to replace the counter on the island. However, if you don’t want to change all your counters, use a contrasting surface on the island like butcher block or soapstone.

It adds extra character to have different countertops in your kitchen and creates a more custom look. Also, if you want to add a larger overhang for seating without replacing the counter, you can place a table with a complementing style next to or right under the counters on one side. This will give you a seating area near the island and add new interest to the kitchen. 

Should I use a different color on my kitchen island cabinets than on my other kitchen cabinets? 

Different colored island cabinets are a distinctive element in modern kitchen design. A different color can serve as a focal point for your kitchen. Most often, people choose to paint the island a darker shade than the rest of the cabinets. You can change the color on an island more easily than on the rest of the cabinets, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. 

Kitchen Island Overhang Conclusion

Kitchens are known as the heart of the home because they are the focus of so much constant activity. Kitchen islands are a useful surface for the endless pursuits of life: eating, cooking, doing homework, and entertaining. Making sure that the overhang of the countertop on the island is correct, is an important part of all this activity functioning smoothly.