August 10, 2015

Our home’s previous owners had the kitchen set up to accommodate a full dining table. The plan for us is not to create another dining space, but add an island. A short term priority is to remove the chandelier and replace it with a flush mount light fixture. (I have not hit my head on it yet. It is hanging at my exact height such that my head only skims it. The husband, however, has not been spared from its wrath.)


Work on the kitchen will be divided into two phases. Phase One is doing inexpensive improvements – painting, replacing light fixture, switching out hardware, adding a simple island. Phase Two is the full overhaul much further down the line where we would likely gut the thing, including reconfiguring and replacing appliances.

In phase two, I would love for the island to house the stove top. For now, it will just be a nice extra workspace with some storage and a bar area with stools. We are hoping to build it ourselves (unless we snag a really affordable find). To begin thinking about the island we would construct (or what to keep an eye out for shopping), I had to figure out about what to aim for with sizing.

Researching standard kitchen measurements, I read for a walkway by the sink or oven you want about 42 inches and other walkways can get by at about 40 inches. With taping off just those distances the shape of our island was already pretty well defined.


The remaining measurement was how close to the window the final side of the island would be.

This will be the small eating area with stools, so there must be enough room to move and sit comfortably. It is also an important spot for when I do food photos, however, so I also want it to be as close to the window as possible (for light). Right now it is marked off at a 32 inch distance, which has seemed adequate.


The island’s size shown here is 4×6 feet. Doing some research for buying an island in that size, it seems it will not be possible to find anything for nearly as cheap as building ourselves.


To summarize, the shorter term things on our mind for the kitchen are changing the fixture, building the island, and then hanging the ceiling pot rack I got a a garage sale (for $5!) above it. Also, paint. And changing hardware. And resurfacing the counter tops. And removing the frilly wood detailing above the sink. See? I need to set my limits.

And I did not even mention the new wood floors coming!

My New Cookbook



  • Chris

    Hi Rachel,
    I was just telling my husband about my comment to you concerning your kitchen island and he told me about an article he’s read in the November 2015 issue of Handyman magazine. It was saying that you should build a facsimile of what you have in mind out of 3/4″ foam. That would give you a very good idea of “walking around room” around your island. It’s really cheap stuff and you can always find a use for it after taking it apart…you’ll just be duct taping it together so it won’t be damaged at all. I found this blog while searching for a recipe for ginger sauce (really good, by the way!) and you do a really nice job. Hope your cookbook is a huge success!

    • Rachel Schultz

      Ha that is a really cool idea. I may do that for this, and other projects/furniture decisions too!

  • Chris

    We finished remodeling our kitchen about 1-2 years ago. The island originally had the stove top in it and I chose not to repeat what I considered a huge mistake. In all honesty, I’m SO glad that I decided to locate it elsewhere in the kitchen. My suggestion to you would be to tape off the area in the island that would hold the stove top and see what the spacing is like. For us, it just didn’t work. We also had this gigantic range hood over the stove area that I called a “hanging Buick” – it was such an eyesore and blocked off the other side of the kitchen. I have a ton of counter space in my kitchen and I know how lucky I am; the previous island space just wasn’t large enough to do anything on. Because you’re still in the planning stages, you have time to decide what will work for you. I hope that you can work it all out so that it’s really efficient and beautiful.

    • Rachel Schultz

      Good advice, thanks Chris.

  • Carol

    There should be at least 36″ between your overhang for the island and the stove/counters….more is better. I have 36″ and getting a turkey in and out of the oven is tricky with so little room.

    • Rachel Schultz

      Yes, with my plan I have 42″

  • Anonymous

    Does the island have an overhang on the eating side, or will the counter edge be flush with the base of the island? If there’s an overhang 32″ might be enough; otherwise that looks pretty squishy once there’s occupied stools there and you want to pass by (especially when fully pregnant ;) My MIL has stools with backs and it seems hard to pass by them at her house, although I don’t have specific measurements.

    • Rachel Schultz

      It will have an overhang, which is included in what is taped off. So, the base of the island is actually smaller than the taped off part and the tape represents the counter surface. I do not like having my bump pushed against!

  • Adam

    Are you going to be able to stand in front of the stove and open the door fully with the island that close?

    • Rachel Schultz

      From our simulation, I believe so. It is the recommended spacing I have seen for most kitchens. Pictures do not always show the proportions reliably!

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