How to Plan Your Kitchen Island Seating to Suit Your Family
Think carefully about the best bar stool style and configuration for how you’re likely to use your island dining spot
That’s because she now has to choose between having everyone in her family face in one direction like strangers in a diner and having to pull around a stool to sit on the wrong side of the island, with her knees bumping up against cabinets, for the sake of family bonding.
Don’t let a good visual get in the way of functionality. Before you renovate or give your island an update, consider these options for how to choose the best dining arrangement to save your household – and your knees – a lot of bumps down the road.
An island with seating on just one side is a common arrangement for a reason, and it can work well for some situations. However, if you’re looking to use the island as a frequent spot for family meals, it’s usually not ideal.
Placing all seats on one side means everyone who’s seated will be facing forwards in a line, which doesn’t facilitate conversation.
If the island isn’t expected to be used for larger groups than that, it makes sense not to dedicate any more space to seating.
If your island has sides or legs that the seats sit between, as shown here, they might cut into the legroom.
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Adding seats to even just one adjacent side can go a long way to making your island a much more inviting spot to dine. By extending the island overhang to two sides instead of just one, you allow guests to sit facing each other.
If your kitchen is long and skinny, it may make more sense to have a long, thin island, with seating on two opposite sides. This means guests can face each other, although if the island is quite narrow, you may not have much room to fit place settings as well as serving dishes.
Generally, fitting seats on three sides of the island requires a large kitchen. However, there are multiple configurations that can work for different layouts.
In this example, the island is fairly square, with a rectangular dining zone taking up half of its deep depth. This gives enough room for just one seat on two of the sides, but that’s enough to allow two to four guests to converse easily.
In an average-size kitchen, the decision often comes down to whether you want a more casual or more formal experience. For casual dining, this is a great solution that keeps the chef in on the action.
Islands are often staged for photos with the maximum number and size of plush seats that can fit on each side. However, in real life, people don’t always take up just a seat’s width of space, with knees and elbows needing some room of their own.
Plan for each guest to have 60cm to 75cm of worktop width, but be as generous as you realistically can be. If you’re planning out the configuration of your island, try drawing or taping out different scenarios to see which allows for the most seats of this size in your space.
Once you add seats to any side of the island that’s in the potential flow of traffic or the chef’s workspace, you may want to consider using backless bar stools for your seating, or a style that can tuck fully under the worktop out of the way.
If you have a narrow island, seats with arms will provide a more comfortable dining experience. At the same time, arms generally take up more space and often won’t tuck under as easily. If you hope to use stools with arms, plan for each guest to have 70cm to 80cm of worktop width instead.
Carefully consider whether you have the space for roomy stools with arms. If you do, consider it an investment in many comfortable meals at your wonderful dining island.
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