5 Inspiring Design Ideas for Kitchen Islands with Seating

by Joanna Stewart

Fri, Nov 30, 2018

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kitchen islands with seating

Kitchen Islands with Seating – Photo

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a crowded kitchen during a dinner party? Me too.

The kitchen is like a magnet for lingering people and the hub for most social activities in our homes.

How can you make the most of this space and accommodate your guests at the same time?

Maybe it’s time to look at a few kitchen islands with seating.

Before you throw a few bar stools into your kitchen, there are a few design features you need to be aware of.

First, islands need to have cantilevered countertops or an overhang to allow for a comfortable seating area.

Secondly, if you are planning on adding seating to your kitchen island make sure there is plenty of room. At minimum you should have 42 inches of space on each side of the island, preferably 48 inches if space permits.

On islands with a breakfast bar you can use different countertop materials to add texture and depth to the space.

One mistake many homeowners make is falling in love with chairs for their kitchen island only to find out they don’t fit. Before you go shopping for stools, take a few measurements. Seats must have at least 12 inches of clear knee space below the countertop.

What type of chairs are best for your kitchen island?

How many seats can you fit around an island? That depends on how tall the island is. Here’s a simple guideline on how much countertop space you need to allow for each seated person:

Before you decide to add seating to your kitchen island, take a look at my favorite design ideas. Let me know your favorite layouts after your read the article.

Islands with Seating for 5

Island with Seating for 5 - Photo

Island with Seating for 5 – Photo

Most kitchen islands only have enough space for two or three guests, but with a little careful planning you can get enough seating for 5.

One advantage of a large island with seating is that it can serve as a casual dining area. Why not entertain your guests while you cook?

Today a gourmet kitchen is more than a place for just cooking. It’s also a great place to entertain or serve dinner for the entire family.

Whether you need seating for 4, 5 or 6 people there are creative ways to add space around your island. A raised breakfast bar is the most common, but there are many other ways to make the most of your island.

Keep reading to see more of my favorite kitchen islands with seating!

Islands with a Breakfast Bar

Breakfast Bar - Photo

Breakfast Bar – Photo

One of the most popular styles of kitchen islands with seating is one with a raised breakfast bar. Not only does the bar help create separate work spaces within a big kitchen, it also adds character to a traditional kitchen layout.

A breakfast bar is versatile because it offers a great place to sit and a comfortable ledge to lean or stand against.

If you have a high-traffic kitchen, a breakfast bar can serve as a great place to stop and chat momentarily or even serve up appetizers during a party.

Modern Island with Breakfast Bar

Modern Island with Seating - Photo

Modern Island with Seating – Photo

Not only do kitchen islands with a breakfast bar work great in traditional homes, but they also work in modern spaces as well.

In this contemporary kitchen the breakfast bar adds depth to the open space. It also provides a front row seat to the cooking action.

Modern kitchens have the advantage of using more creative seating around the island. These bar stools add extra character to the space and can easily switched out for something entirely different if needed.

Islands With Stools

Island with Stools - Photo

Island with Stools – Photo

Unlike kitchen islands with a breakfast bar, sometimes you just need a temporary place to sit in the kitchen. Kitchen islands with stools offer a casual sitting area with plenty of flexibility.

Stools can be small enough to be pushed under the counters to free up space when they’re not in use. I love islands with stools because they offer a simple way to transform your kitchen into a social space without wasting precious countertop real estate.

A few stools can let your guests join in on the cooking action without getting in the way. The question is, how many stools can you fit around your kitchen island?

When shopping for stools remember to keep these guidelines in mind:

For Small Kitchens

Island with Seating in Small Kitchen - Photo

Island with Seating in Small Kitchen – Photo

Kitchen islands with seating are normally found in large homes with lots of space. But what about small kitchens? Is it possible to add seating even in a small space?

In this example there is limited space for an island, but a creative use of the layout allow for seating against the kitchen wall. How can you incorporate seating into your small kitchen?

Another simple solution is by adding a few bar stools to sit next to an island or workspace. While you may not have room for leg space under your island in a small kitchen, adding a few temporary seats could help.


As you can see I barely scratched the surface on kitchen island ideas with seating.

In fact, there were hundreds of photos I wanted to include but had to narrow it down to only five. I hope these examples will help inspire you to design your own kitchen.

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