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Home > Kitchens > Seated Kitchen Island Designs – What Seating Works

When designing and planning a kitchen renovation often one of the key things people want from their new kitchen is more space, for storage, food preparation, and somewhere more casual to eat. The seated kitchen island meets all of those needs and can also make a kitchen look great too. It is a place where you can prepare food while you chat with friends or family. But there is more to this option than just getting an island and placing seating around it. Seated kitchen island designs need some thought put into them and you especially need to think carefully about the type of seating you should use. Get it right and the room will flow as it needs to and people will be comfortable. Get it wrong and it will ruin the eating experience too.

Designing Kitchen Island With Seating

Seating around kitchen islands is more than choosing a color you like. You need to think about style, height, how the seating sticks out from the island when not being used, how easy they are to get on and off of, whether you want soft or hard seating, backed or no back, with arms or no arms, swivel or fixed, there are various materials to consider and so on. How will seating be arranged, in a semi circle around you as you work, at one end while you work the other? How many do you need to seat and is there room for what you need? Is this more of a breakfast bar where kid will grab their food and run out the door or do you want to host some casual dining experiences here too?

huge-kitchen-island Big island with marble tabletop

Often you will find when you are in the kitchen others are drawn there also, whether it is a party, family get together or just a regular family night in. Specific seating types work better for different kitchen island designs and depend on who is using them. When you have an idea of answers for the above questions you are more likely to be able to decide on what seating works for your island.

rustic-kitchen-island Rustic island with unique stools

Tips about the islands

First here are a few tips you need to think about for the islands themselves.

  • You want at least 42 inches of room on each side of the island; something like 48 inches would be preferable.
  • The island countertop needs to have an overhang or be cantilevered if people are eating at it.
  • Using different materials for the countertop will add a sense of texture.
  • If you want to use bar stools you need the height of the island to be 42 to 46 inches.
  • If you want to use counter stools the island should be 36 inches high.
  • If you want to use low stools or regular chairs the height of the island should be 30 inches.
  • While seating for 3 or 4 is easy to get it is possible to seat up to 6 people at the right island.
  • You can get dual height islands so that you can have people eating there but they cannot see into the ‘work’ zone.
  • Having the island match with the rest of room is nice but not necessary. If you cannot match perfectly as this is a recent addition, make it completely different rather than almost the same but not quite.
  • Budget varies a great deal depending on what you want, the material you want, size, and so on. A basic island can come at around $800 but you can get fittings, customization and other features that can take them all the way up to 5 figures.
  • If you opt for less storage place you gain more leg room for people eating there. Weigh up how badly you need that extra space and decide from there.
  • Use your kitchen island to create a perfect kitchen work triangle so you can move around more efficiently and get more done.
  • If you are having plumbing put in make sure it is done well so that there are no leaks and unwanted damage.
  • In a small space you can get islands on wheels also called floating islands that can be moved when needed. While these would not seat many people, you could still seat one or two.

unique-island Wood island that allows cooking

What seating should you choose

No matter how great the island is if you get the seating wrong people will not be comfortable eating there. Avoid shopping for chairs without having done your research, buying some seating you love only to find it does not fit, sticks out, or ruins your kitchen floor! Here are some tips to keep in mind to endure you get your kitchen island seating right.

island-with-seating Stools invite conversations in the kitchen!

  • Remember you need to make sure there is at least 12 inches of knee space under the countertop.
  • There are three main different types of seating, standard bar stools which are the tallest, counter stools, then the lowest are dining chairs or low stools.
  • If your countertop is 30 inches high each person will need an eating space of 30 inches wide by 19 inches deep.
  • If your countertop is 36 inches high people around it will need an eating space of 24 inches wide by 15 inches deep.
  • If your countertop is 42 inches high your guests will need an eating space of 24 inches wide by 12 inches deep.
  • If space is an issue you need to think about where the seating is going to go when not in use. Get something small enough to slide under out the way when not in use.
  • Seating should be arranged on the outer edges of the island.
  • There is a wide range of pricing for kitchen island seating but do not rush to buy something cheap without thinking about what you need. Remember people will be sitting on these stools or chairs for the duration of a meal. This is a lot longer than perching on one to have a coffee and chat. You may want to think about making sure the seats come with some kind of padding, or add some cushions to them.
  • Again thinking about comfort do you want there to be arm rests, or backs? If it is just family grabbing breakfast together on them, those extra comforts may not be necessary.
  • Island seating comes in a range of materials and what you decide on is really based on what you like, the style of the kitchen and how easy to clean you want them to be! Various woods like oak, pine or cherry, metals like wrought iron, sleek chrome, stainless steel. You can also get leather covered, wicker, bamboo and even plastic seating. Metal options look great in a modern contemporary kitchen where there are other appliances that follow that theme. Wooden stools look great in traditional styled kitchens that have wooden cabinets and so on.
  • Do you want them to swivel? For adults it may be nice to be able to easily turn to talk to others around them. Kids will of course love being able to swing back and forth, but having them not sitting still may be an issue!
  • If the stools are to be used by both children and adults you may want to get adjustable seating.
  • If they are upholstered choose something that is easy to wipe down in case of spills or splashes.
  • Remember this seating will be pulled out and pushed in often so make sure they are easy to handle and are kind to your floor.
Categories: Kitchens

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