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Can you have 2 islands in a kitchen?

Having two islands in a kitchen has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, especially for large, open floor plan kitchens. While not necessary, some homeowners opt for two islands as it allows for more prep space, storage, and seating. However, there are some important factors to consider before installing a second island.

Space Requirements

The most obvious requirement for having two islands is having enough floor space. Generally, each island should be at least 36-42 inches wide and have enough room around all sides for people to comfortably move around. Islands should be placed at least 42 inches apart from each other and other objects like walls and appliances. Here are some recommended minimum dimensions for two islands:

Kitchen Size Minimum Space for 2 Islands
Small 10 x 12 ft
Medium 12 x 15 ft
Large 15 x 20 ft

For proper traffic flow, its best to place the two islands parallel to each other with enough space in between. Placing them at right angles or as an L-shape can disrupt movement. It’s also ideal if one island is larger and serves as the main food prep area while the second is more of a breakfast bar.


When planning two islands, carefully consider their functionality. Try to differentiate them so they each serve a purpose rather than duplicating uses. For example, one island could have the sink, dishwasher, and prep space while the other has seating and storage. Some other functional combinations include:

  • Primary cooking island + additional prep island
  • Food prep island + serving/dining island
  • Entertaining island with seating + utility island with appliances

Also think about traffic flow between the islands. Allow enough space for multiple cooks or guests to comfortably move around. Islands should not feel cluttered or crammed.

Countertop Space

With two islands, you’ll need ample countertop space for food prep, appliances, seating, and decor. Each island should have at least 25-30 sq ft of countertop space. The primary cooking island will need more (about 36-45 sq ft).

Consider different countertop materials like granite, quartz, or butcher block for visual interest. Using the same material can make the kitchen feel monotonous. A combination like quartz on one island and butcher block on the other adds nice contrast.


Including cabinetry in both islands provides concealed storage. The primary cooking island should have cabinets for storing cookware, small appliances, and food staples. The secondary island can have cabinets for lesser used items and serveware. Allow 15-18 inches of cabinet depth for ample storage.

Go for drawer bases rather than cabinets with doors. Drawers are more ergonomic and provide better access to contents. Include large and small drawers as needed. Some specialty organizers like utensil dividers and spice inserts maximize space.


An appealing aspect of having two islands is it allows for more seating. While one island will have the sink and appliances, the other can be used for seating guests. Size the secondary island 36-42 inches wide to comfortably accommodate barstools. Allow at least 24 inches of overhang for seating on one or both sides.

Swivel barstools with backs allow easy conversation between seated guests. Counter height should be 11-15 inches below the main island height (standard is 36 inches). There should be at least 24 inches behind the stools so they don’t interfere with traffic flow.


Carefully consider appliance placement with two islands. The primary cooking island will likely house the range/cooktop and oven. Built-in or slide-in appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers can be incorporated into an island or placed elsewhere like against a wall.

The secondary island can include a undercounter wine fridge or beverage center. But avoid placing heat-generating appliances like ovens into the second island. Appliances should not be directly across from each other – allow for triangle workflow between appliances.


With two islands, sufficient lighting is key for food prep safety and ambiance. Incorporate overhead pendant lights or recessed lights above both islands. Task lighting like undercabinet strip lighting illuminates countertops. Lighting on the underside of the island overhang can softly illuminate seated guests.

Make sure lighting is bright enough for kitchen tasks but not harsh. Dimmer switches allow adjusting brightness. Mix lighting types like LED and halogen for balanced illumination. Place lights on separate switches so you can selectively control island lighting.


Adding a second island is a significant investment that can range from $2,000-5,000. Costs vary based on size, materials, and features included. Some factors impacting cost include:

  • Countertop material – more premium materials like quartz or granite cost more
  • Size of each island
  • Cabinetry – more cabinets equals higher cost
  • Appliances and fixtures added
  • Hardware like drawer glides, pulls, and hinges
  • Custom design and fabrication

Given the costs involved, carefully map out your needs and usage for two islands. Add up potential costs to ensure it fits your kitchen remodeling budget.


Having two kitchen islands requires significant floor space and a well thought out layout. When planned properly, two islands can double your prep area, storage, and seating while allowing multiple cooks to comfortably move about. Consider the functional uses, traffic flow, and costs before committing to two islands. With good design, they can be a worthwhile investment that takes your kitchen to the next level.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Allow adequate floor space between and around islands (at least 42 inches apart)
  • Differentiate the function of each island
  • Incorporate sufficient storage, countertop space, and seating
  • Carefully place appliances and fixtures
  • Include proper lighting for tasks and ambiance
  • Factor in the costs of custom fabrication and materials

With proper planning and design, two thoughtfully laid out kitchen islands can provide better ergonomics and workflow while enhancing the aesthetic. It allows for more storage and maximum prep space that busy cooks need. For large open floor plans, it’s an opportunity to create a luxurious, high-functioning kitchen.