The prospect of installing a kitchen island offers a tantalizing promise of additional storage, prep and serving space in the kitchen, but choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster. Remember that the kitchen is a work area, and anything that gets in the way of working efficiently is going to be a problem. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations will create bottlenecks and big hassles. One solution is to add a sink or stove to the island and make it part of the functional kitchen triangle. Another is to position the island so that it has lots of space around it and doesn't impede foot traffic.
For efficient flow, leave between 42 and 48 inches (106.68 cm and 121.92 cm) of open area around islands. Typically, for an island to be a useful addition, your kitchen should be at least 13 feet wide (3.96 meters), and the island should be a minimum of three feet by five feet (91.4 cm by 152.4 cm). The layout of your kitchen is important when considering an island. Single wall and L-shaped kitchens usually work well with islands. Where you're planning a U-shaped setup, make sure that there is at least 10 feet of clearance between the legs of the U to house an island. For an island to be used as a breakfast bar, each seated diner should have 24 inches (60.96 cm) of space from side to side with a depth of 12 inches (30.48 cm); less than that, and people will be elbowing one another throughout the meal [source: MSU].