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what is standard island height?!? picture

15 years ago

Hello Everyone!!! After stealing ideas, gaining knowledge and reading other's problems/issue's since December of 06' I FINALLY decide to post my own problem instead of finding someone who has had the same problem and using their solution.

Ok...what is the standard height for an island that will be used as a seating area also with bar stools underneath them?

My cabinet maker originally built the island the same height as the base cabinets/countertops. I lost it, I called my DH and just came unglued thinking I wouldnÂt be able to fit bar stools/chairs underneath and that my idea of having the kids sit there and do home work while I'm cooking dinner is down the drain!! No laughing!! :) After two days if turmoil in my brain, I finally decided to call the cabinet guy and see what could be done. He stated he could just build a cap 4 or 6 inch cap on it and that would resolve the problem. Long story short, the island is now 42 inches tall after he put the cap on it. Well AFTER he put the cap on it my DH decides to tell me that he thinks it closes the kitchen up and it is not as open as before and that it is typical to have an island that is the same height as the countertops and that they DID make stools short enough to accommodate, again AFTER I have had the cabinet gut to put the cap on. Well know it looks a bit high to me and a bit funny.

The island will strictly be used for preparation, homework/study area for kids while I am cooking and during parties an area for snacks. There is not a sink nor a cook top in the island.

What are your thoughts and/or suggestions? Please please please help!! Desperately indecisive...

Comments (23)

  • craftsman_lodge
    15 years ago

    Go back to the original 36" high. That cap is unattractive.

  • emmachas_gw Shaffer
    15 years ago

    I personally prefer sitting at a counter height island. Resting your feet for a long time on the rung of a tall stool can get very uncomfortable! I have tall now---plan for counter height in new house. Your cabinets are beautiful.

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  • fairegold
    15 years ago

    Did you try this on the Kitchens Forum?

    Definitely go back to the 36" total (that's WITH countertop) high island. Definitely.

  • brody_miasmom
    15 years ago

    The kitchen looks great. But I agree with all the others, lose the cap! Don't worry, you will find a wide variety of counter height stools.

  • deanie1
    15 years ago

    I agree, especially since you say the island will be used for prep and homework only. I would think it'd be hard to work on an island that tall (especially if you bake a lot) unless you are pretty tall. Also, if your kids will be be sitting there any length of time doing homework I'd think they get uncomfortable, and if they're little, they'd be scrambling to climb up to the high bar stools you'd have to buy. (I can see them tipping over) You might also consider having one side of the island top stick out so they have somewhere to put their knees. (But honestly, my children don't do well doing homework there. It's just too busy of a place.) Our bar stools are only 2' tall and I've got one end of our island lowered to only 2.5' for them to eat breakfast on. Your kitchen is beautiful though!

  • mightyanvil
    15 years ago

    Working at a 42" counter height is fine if your are taller than 6-4 but I've never had a client that tall. Most people prefer 36" and some of my clients have asked that it be lower (people closer to 5-0 than 6-0).

    When the work counter is 36" high the only reason to make the counter at the seating area higher is to separate it from the work counter or block the view of the work counter from the rest of the room.

    The counter height has nothing to do with the height of stools or chairs. They are commonly made to fit 36" and 42" counter heights and can be easily modified for in-between heights.

    From the photo it's difficult to tell where the seating will be. I assume there will be an overhang since there apppears to be very little knee space (both width and height) for sitting at the island. That is something I would be concerned about.

    In these photos the 36" high central island has room for 3 chairs and is intended to be part of the family room.
    The narrow counter behind the range (far right) is 42" high and aligns with the shelf above the kitchen backsplash. It visually separates the kitchen work surfaces from the dining area.

    In designing anything it is best to start with the primary functions and then work on the secondary functions making them serve and support the primary functions. You got off track by placing the chair design ahead of everything else.

  • kygirl99
    15 years ago

    I agree with everyone - lose the cap. It looks like an easy fix and that is really too tall. Thank goodness you figured it out before the countertop was installed.

    As for overhang, you will want one on that side for seating. I think 10-11" is the minimum I've seen people say is doable to give room for legs underneath.

  • mollymcb
    15 years ago

    I definitely think the island height should be the same as the perimeter counters. Not to send you into a panic again, but my main concern when I saw your pic was where you were going to put stools. Since it looks like you don't have enough walkway between the two aisles, are you planning an overhang at the end where the clipboard is in the picture? It looks like that would be enough width for 2 stools, using 24" per stool as a guide. Assuming there is no table/seating area in close proximity to that end, it looks like that would work just fine. Good luck!

  • chiefneil
    15 years ago

    My island is 40" high, and the perimeter counters are 36" high. I'm 6'1", so I really love doing food prep at the higher island. It actually isn't obvious that the two surfaces are different heights unless you're looking for it, but it does make a significant difference in comfort when working there. My DW is 5'4" and she also prefers doing prep at the island as the more upright posture doesn't aggravate her back problems.

    Over on the kitchen forum there are a lot of people who've done either higher or lower islands depending on their needs (bakers generally prefer a lower surface for rolling out dough).

    But food prep aside, if seating is your main concern then I'd recommend you go measure some bar stools that you like. Sit in the stool and measure the distance to your elbows when seated. You'll probably want the finished height (i.e. including the granite or whatever) to be close to, or slightly higher, than your elbows when seated.

  • scwren
    15 years ago

    I've been debating this also. From what I have seen, barstools usually come in two diff sizes - one to fit a 36 inch countertop and one to fit a 42 inch high countertop. I have 3 kids and the usability factor for them is huge for me t0o. I am going w/ a 38 inch high island - just a little higher then normal. My reasoning is - when you sit in a barstool sized for a 36 inch high counter and try to work or eat, you wind up sort of hunched over. And I am short - 5"4' to be exact. I think just two inches will make it more comfortable.

    Try working on a 42inch high surface. Unless you are quite tall, I would think that could get uncomfortable.

  • chisue
    15 years ago

    Is that supposed to be the counter seating area, front and center in your photo? I don't see enough knee room and I don't see room for more than two stools, regardless of the height.

  • sue36
    15 years ago

    36" is a "standard" island (requiring counter stools). Some people do a section of one side that is higher (requiring bar stools). Personally, in most cases I think the 36" island with no higher section looks better.

    Do the 36" counter with 24" or 26" stools. And apologize to you cabinet guy.

    Where are the kids going to sit? I don't see that the island was designed for a leg area. Or are you just going to have an overhang?

  • arkansasgal
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Thank you all for your responses. My babies are young we have a 4, 8 & 10 year old. We are not very tall, I am only 5'7 and DH is 5'10. There is going to be a 10.5" overhang on the right hand side and on the end, leaving 39.5" of space walk way on all sides. I will try and have 5 stools their, feasible? BTW...behind the island there is a 14 x 10 breakfast nook there. A picture before the cabinets went in is below to give you an idea.

    Sue, I think I am going to ask my cabinet guy to take that cap off and apologize like crazy!!

    emmachas, brody_miasmom, & deanie1 thank you so much for the compliment, I really, really needed it. I have been pretty hard on myself for upper cabinets being so short. I am a complete newbie at this and the drawings on paper of course look great, but the ceiling height (10ft) wasn't taken into account. So thank you very very very much!!!

  • buzzsaw
    15 years ago

    I for one like a taller counter, but then I am also taller than most folks. A really good rule of thumb from the ergonomics community is to set up your working surfaces at 6" below your bent elbow. Stand with your arms at your side and them raise your hands until they form a 90° angle at the elbow. Measure six inches down from there.

    FWIW, our 12' long island has two heights, one side at 36 for cabinet and sink and one side at 42. The 42 is for the seating part and the dishwasher. It is awesome to have the dishwasher raised 6" higher; particularly when DW models keep lowering the motor unit to increase the volume inside. We're not getting any younger and bending over to reach the bottom of the DW is less fun...

  • chisue
    15 years ago

    OK, now we are back to a 35-36" height (including countertop material), right? You plan only an 11" deep "bar" overhang? How many inches of "bar" length will you have?

    An 11" deep bar may be OK as a brief perch, but IMO you need at least 18" depth if someone is going to eat a meal there or do homework; you need "spreading room".

    I don't see enough length on this island for five stools. You need 24" length per stool just to eat there; more for larger projects.

    Our island is 8' long X 48" deep. Half of the depth is counter height and half is bar height. We have three bar stools, with backs (important if you sit longer than a few minutes). When DH sits at the bar with the newspaper spread out there's room for one more person! BTW, we often stand at the bar portion to spread out papers, newly-opened mail, statements, anything we are sorting out together.

    Remember that the countertop material will add an inch or so to your cabinet height and will protrude an inch or so beyond the cabinet base, into your aisles. I have one aisle that is 38"; the rest are 40 - 42.

  • Cathy Mills
    7 years ago

    Too high, counter height is counter height, not bar height. Too high for a center island and that small of an area, go back to 36 inches.

  • collfoster
    7 years ago

    bite the bullet and do it know as I agree with your husband - it does close the kitchen off. Go back to the 36 in. Will there be an overhang so stools can be brought up? Looks like knees will hit. Good luck!!

  • amberm145
    7 years ago

    Or that is a story we need to hear more about. ;)

  • Lazara Arriola
    6 years ago

    I hope I get a reply so I can solve my similar ongoing turmoil. I am getting custom cabinets and replacing existing countertops from Formica to granite. The area I am questioning is a sitting area in front of the sink. Right now, the area around the sink is lower than the countertop sitting area. I want to open that area and make it an even countertop. 36" which is the standard height seems sooo low for a sitting area. Am I wrong? Should i make it higher even when the rest of the Countertop area will be 36? Please, help. Thank you.

  • JDS
    6 years ago

    You'll have better results if you start a new thread and provide photos and /or drawings.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    I would ask the question and provide photos and diagrams in the kitchen forum.

  • Dan Fiander
    2 years ago

    Building an island here and making it 42” with cabinets 36”