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Thread: Planning a new island. Opinions?

  1. #1

    Planning a new island. Opinions?

    I'm fairly new to woodworking, and in the planning stages for a new kitchen island. I know standard height is 36", but the wife is wanting it a little taller. We are both average height at about 5'9". Has anyone else done this? What would you suggest? 37"? 38"?

    Our house is a normal to small sized ranch style. Storage is always at a premium. So I am also considering doing frameless cabinets for the island, and having all drawers and no doors. Easier to access stuff and figure with frameless, that will leave me with more available storage space. Every little bit counts. Any opinions or thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance to anyone that will provide their opinion.

  2. #2
    Deviating from the standard is very common. You can do a mock up to find your suitable height for your kitchen island. You can also do the mock up in length and width to see how this fits in your surroundings in the room, such as other cabinets, appliances and furniture.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Chad
    I'm 6'3" and my wife is 5'6". When we built our kitchen we put the cabinets at 37". Me personally, I would have had them over 40", but 37" is a good compromise.
    Your wife, at 5'9" is a little taller than average for a women.
    Bil has a very good point about making a mockup. We did our kitchen with mockups just to be sure. In fact, I'm still working on it.
    You won't regret doing drawers, instead of cabinets, on the lowers for a single minute. Our kitchen is full length pull out drawers on the lowers. It is so nice not have to bend over and crawl on the floor to find something in the back. I will never have a kitchen with cabinets on the lowers again, except for the sinks.
    Oh yeah, the intent for the area under our oven is for cabinet doors, but full extension slide outs for pots and pans. Not shelves!!!
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  4. #4
    I'll second the opinion that you'll want to do all drawers. I built our entire kitchen, and except for the cabinet under the induction cooktop, everything is drawers. We have no upper cabinets and find that even our dinnerware works great in drawers. You will save time and money with frameless, but need to consider how you will finish the edges of the sheet material you choose to use.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Iím not a big fan of frameless cabinets. When I first started building cabinets I too leaned towards the frameless style due to ease but face frames are not that difficult, if you build your carcass square and what not. FF will break up the drawers a little. If youíre sold on frameless, itís not a bad way to go, but as Lisa said, youíll need to figure out how to trim out the edges. Iíve used iron on veneer and it has worked out fine but again, not my favorite method of trimming out a cabinet.,,especially in a kitchen.
    Height sounds good on paper but once you have something built it will feel a lot taller than holding a tape measure up to a certain height. A mock up as suggested is a good idea. Even a couple inches will go a long way and feel much taller.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    I'll cast another vote for a mock-up. I'm 6'1" and do most of the cooking in our household. We have a 36" high island where I do most of the food prep - slicing, chopping, mixing, etc. - and 36" is just right for me. I set my cutting board up on a couple inches of stacked up newspapers to make it 38", and it's a manageable height, but not as comfortable as 36" - especially if I'm cutting something where I need some leverage.

    I know I'm out of step with the times, but I'm not a fan of drawer stacks in the kitchen. We had a stack in our old home, and it just seemed like they got too cluttered and I could never find what I was looking for. In our new place, all the lower cabinets are a single drawer with doors below. We do have the slide-out shelves that Mike mentioned earlier, and I think they're great - pots, pans, mixing bowls, serving dishes, all those plastic leftover containers all go on the sliding shelves, and I can pull them out and find exactly what I'm looking for.

  7. #7
    I've got a very narrow view because I'm used to standard. I've built a handful of kitchens with 38" counters. It's weird to me, but I'm brainwashed.

    Things to keep in mind

    Appliances are that sit on the floor like ranges and dishwashers are meant to fit a standard height cabinet. This can be negated with a cooktop and a wall oven. The dishwasher opening can be filled with a little filler over the top, or raised up.

    You will want to raise your wall cabinets to maintain a 18" or better clearance under them to the countertop. Counter appliances are made to slide under your wall cabinet.

    There's nothing saying you can't make them to whatever height you want.

  8. #8
    Most of my kitchens have very few doors in base cabinets as well. Drawers are a better use of space

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Cedar Park, TX (NW Austin)
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    The simple base cabinet generally has a lot of wasted space that could be better utilized other ways. Drawers are more complicated but an excellent use of space, great for taller people and those who have issues bending. There are other features such as pull outs that are helpful too. Look at the Kraftmaid website. They have a huge selection of upgrades that can give you ideas about making better use of the space you have. There is a lot out there.

    One of the the nicer features in a home I have seen is a raised dishwasher. The counter above the dishwasher was 42Ē and transitioned into the bar area for a seamless look. This provided a nice elevated work space but also required much less bending to load and unload the dishwasher. I will look for a picture later to post.

    i would be careful about making you cabinets too tall if selling your home is in the near future. The taller cabinets may turn off some potential buyers.

  10. #10
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    Here is an image of an elevated dishwasher. You may not have your on the island but maybe it will stimulate and idea

    dishwasher.jpg

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    All drawers for sure...and height is a personal preference. Given that many of us use our kitchen islands extensively for prep work, having the best height for our comfort should be the goal. There's no requirement that it matches the fixed counters in the rest of the kitchen which are likely at some "standard" height that the home builder or kitchen firm preferred to use at the time of installation unless you were personally involved in the design and specified otherwise.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    At the far end of the island as you enter the kitchen my wife's idea was to have book shelves for the cook books. Don't see them unless you walk down to that end of the island.

    An idea I had was with the depth of fridges I made the counters on that side 30 inches deep so fridge doesn't stick out - drawers in lower are deep and uppers are 18 inches deep. Found this extra depth good as some things just need a little more space

  13. #13
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    John, my current island has shelves at the end. While they are functional for holding things, they have proven to be a real pain to keep clean....you know, an "out of sight, out of mind" type thing.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa Starr View Post
    I'll second the opinion that you'll want to do all drawers. I built our entire kitchen, and except for the cabinet under the induction cooktop, everything is drawers. We have no upper cabinets and find that even our dinnerware works great in drawers. You will save time and money with frameless, but need to consider how you will finish the edges of the sheet material you choose to use.
    Lisa
    Would you mind posting of photo of how you built the inside of your drawer for plates? I want to modify one of our big drawers to hold plates, whether stacked, or set on edge. Stacked doesn't seem to be the best way to do it.
    The drawer is 36" wide, 14" tall, and 22" deep. It has two Gras, bottom mount, full extension slides that are rated 250lbs for the pair. It was built for storing dinnerware.
    Thank you
    Mike
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  15. #15
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    A lot would depend on what type of prep will be done. If a lot of baking is done(rolling pin work) a 36 may be better. Remember you can raise the work surface with a thick cutting board. No easy way to lower it. People in general are use to a 36" height. If others help in your kitchen at times, parents, kids, etc higher tops tend to cause spills. It's like stairs that are too high or too low, the riser I'm referring to on stairs. I'm a firm believer in keeping it at 36" and raising as needed with cutting boards or stands.
    Jim

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