You cannot underestimate the importance of the proper design of a kitchen island bench in your home. To make sure you get it right, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

A kitchen island, or kitchen island bench, is commonly one of the main features of a kitchen. Providing additional benchtop space and extra storage, it can also make or break a good kitchen design – it is a triple whammy for convenience and aesthetics.

Not all kitchen island designs and layouts are suited to all kitchen styles. Get a few design fundamentals wrong and you could be setting yourself up for a kitchen disaster before you even pick up a cooking utensil.

A kitchen island bench that is too big, too small, incorrectly placed or impedes the functionality and work flow in your kitchen, are some of the key considerations when planning and designing your new kitchen.

What is the real purpose of a kitchen island bench?

A well-designed and executed kitchen island will undertake many of the important functions within a kitchen:

  1. offer additional storage space
  2. a place for cooking preparation, plating up, serving and resting
  3. a preparation area for washing up
  4. entertaining and casual dining
  5. homework and family time

So, prior to settling on just any old island bench design it is extremely important to decide on the main functions you want it to cater for. Often these factors will determine the design fundamentals such as width, depth and whether you require extra storage or bench space to house items like appliances and technological gadgets.

Wider kitchen island designs can include multiple ‘stations’ such as a stove as well as a sink. And, if you are a home entertainer or the family like to spend time together in arguably the most popular room of the house, perhaps you will benefit from having extra seating at the island bench. But, seating is definitely not a feasible option in front of a cooktop area. What is more important for you?

Regardless of where it is fitted, a cooktop will also require a rangehood installed overhead. If you are not fond of a rangehood suspended in the middle of your kitchen space, then a cooktop located on the island is probably not a good fit. In this instance, you would be best limiting the inclusions on your kitchen island bench to a sink and cooking and cleaning prep area.

For a island bench that includes a sink it is a good idea to partner it with a dishwasher (unless of course, you don’t mind the constant washing up!). A dishwasher should always be located near the sink to avoid unnecessary spills and drips over the floor. Another thing to think about is whether you want to have the dishwasher on the left-hand side or the right-hand side of the sink?

It is also usually a good idea to include space in your kitchen island for rubbish and recycling.

What functions do you want your kitchen island bench to perform for you?

What is the ideal size of a kitchen island bench?

Much like the rest of your kitchen cabinetry, the final size of a kitchen island ultimately depends on the overall space available within the kitchen area. An island bench that is too big will make your design feel cramped, but one that is too small may end up being be dysfunctional and look out of place.

As a good rule of thumb, our kitchen design experts recommend the following layout and design tips:

  1. leave a minimum of 90cm to 120cm of open space around the island
  2. a kitchen island bench is not optimal in a kitchen area of less than 4 metres wide
  3. island benches can be as small as 65cm wide, but the ideal size is at least 90cm. A mobile butcher’s block would perhaps be a better option if this amount of space is not available
  4. the optimum size we recommend is 120cm. This provides a good allowance for two sets of cabinets back-to-back if needed. This also affords overhang if you want a breakfast bar on one side (and only one set of cabinets). But, remember to include extra space if you decide to have any trim.

When considering the ideal size of your kitchen island bench, remember to not to impede the working triangle – avoid blocking any work flow area between the sink, stove and fridge.

Work flow and traffic flow

Work flow and traffic flow is very important, particularly with open plan designs and smaller homes. A island bench design that juts out into a dining or sitting area may impede traffic flow throughout the home and would be better made smaller or left out altogether.

* Tip: do you have a small kitchen? Check out our clever ideas for small kitchen decorating here

How much space do you need to include on a kitchen island bench for seating?

Breakfast bars are great for entertainers or home owners who like to have an additional option for casual seating. So, when planning the amount of space needed for breakfast stools at your kitchen island – a comfortable allowance is 60cm per person. This gives plenty of elbow room (and alleviates fights when there are siblings involved!).

Spark it up!

For ease of preparing food with blenders and appliances, a good kitchen island should include access to at least one electrical outlet. Consider what part of your kitchen island design will be used as a preparation space and locate the outlet close by. This is in addition to any power needed for stoves, dishwashers and microwaves.


As a food preparation area, lighting is an important factor to consider.

Pendant lights partner perfectly with an island bench and can bring additional interest into the overall kitchen design too. For some extra ambiance, consider having them installed on a dimmer switch to tone down the mood when you are not preparing food.

A kitchen island provides many benefits and plenty of practicality for kitchens. But, don’t forget about the fun of the design too – consider colours, texture and features like strip lighting. Executed right – you too will love all that an island bench has to offer.

There are so many things to consider with regards to your kitchen island bench, and that is only one part of the kitchen! The kitchen design experts at Harrington Kitchens can help you to tackle all of the above and deliver you an amazing kitchen, avoiding kitchen island bench disaster.

Contact us to discuss your kitchen needs by calling 1300 662 112, submit an online enquiry or visit us at our Narellan or Bowral showrooms.