Island Cooktop – design considerations

Locating the cooktop on an island seems to draw passionate responses both for and against.   Here are the island features that I think are needed to allow for an island cook top:

1. The island should be an adequate size, preferably with a prep area next to the cooktop.   NBKA guidelines for the minimum counter space next to the cooktop are at least 9″ of counter space on one side of the cooking surface and 15″ on the other, at the same counter height as the appliance.  Countertop should extend a minimum of 9″ behind the cooking surface, at the same counter height as the appliance, in any instance where there is not an abutting wall/backsplash.  I would consider 18″ on the sides and back the minimum amount of space, and would recommend 24” if you have seating behind the cook top.  This means the island should be at least 66″ wide and 42″ deep (48″ with seating), and 78” wide with a prep area.

2. The island should have an adequate walkway in front of the cook top.  NBKA guidelines are 42″ walkway for a single cook kitchen and a 48″ walkway for a 2 cook kitchen.  42″ is the minimum space, and I would make sure you have a 48″ walkway (counter edge to counter edge).  If you have less than 42″, you run the risk of bumping into the cook as you pass behind, which is not safe.

3. The island should have adequate ventilation.  Too low a vent hood, can obstruct your vision of the other areas (if it faces the open area).  Too high a vent hood may not adequately ventilate smoke/smell.  High ceilings or vaulted ceilings can be difficult or costly to install a vent hood, and a second floor over the kitchen, may restrict running the duct work (check which direction the floor joists run).  A downdraft is not as good as an overhead hood, but if you decide to go this route, chose a high rising downdraft.

Providing the above conditions are met, here are some other considerations for determining if an island cooktop is right for you:

1.  If the cooktop faces out into an open area, it will allow the cook to feel more like a part of what’s going on, keep an eye on things, or watch TV.  For many people this is highly preferred over staring at a wall while cooking.  Are friends/family frequently or occasionally around when you cook?  Consider your cooking style.  Do you spend more time in prep work, or more time at the cook top?  If there is sufficient space for both on the island, then you will be able to spend most of your time in the kitchen interacting instead of in isolation.

2.  The island should not be a barrier island that breaks up the traffic pattern in the work triangle, but rather should be arranged to shorten the legs of a work triangle.  The fridge and prep sink should be on the same side of the island as the cooktop. 

3.  Some people feel that there is a safety issue, if there is seating behind the cooktop (splatters while cooking).  If you allow 24” behind the cooktop, or raise the countertop for the seating area, this should be adequate.

4.  If having a pot filler is part of the decision process, then consider putting a prep sink in the island, with a pull out faucet (that can reach the cooktop).  This is what I ended up doing in my kitchen, and I love the combination.  The down side is a larger island, which means a little more walking to get around it.

5.  An island will have utensils, spices, cookware, and oils probably stored under the counter in drawers(best) or cabinets.  If you have a strong preference for overhead cabinets or a back wall railing system for these things, then you may not like an island cooktop.  

6. If your island contains the prep area, cooktop, and seating, it will allow you to serve up the food quicker by handing the prepared food to those seated at the island.  

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.