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We can’t think of a home without a kitchen. It’s more than a place to cook and eat food. It’s where we bond, where we make beautiful memories. And, that’s the reason a kitchen has to be all that you dreamt of. Its design and layout have to be perfect for you. We bring you two such popular layouts — kitchen island vs peninsula. So, which one are you going to choose for your home?

In this article, we will give you an honest comparison between the two. Help you select the one that fits the bill better and utilizes your kitchen to its best capacity. We want your family to be most comfortable here — yearning to spend as much time together as possible over a hot meal.

kitchen islandPhoto by John Coley on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What’s the difference between an island and a peninsula?

While both designs create extra space and storage in the kitchen, the difference lies in the way they are structured. The concepts are very much similar to what you’ve studied in your geography class.

An island is a free-standing counter, open on all four sides. It’s a separate unit which stands on its own in the middle of the kitchen. A peninsula, on the other hand, has one end attached to a wall or a cabinet. It has three open sides. For this reason, it’s viewed as an extension of the rest of the kitchen. 

Let’ go back a little in time, during the 1970s to be specific. Peninsulas were hugely popular then. These perpendicular counters, which jutted out from a wall, were the best option to demarcate the kitchen from the dining area.

They were perfect for small kitchens, effortlessly converting an L-shaped kitchen into a U-shaped one. They added aesthetics as well as storage to the living space in the process.

Then came the kitchen islands and homeowners rushed to embrace this modern, versatile design. It offered them a larger, more open concept kitchen layout — even if it meant sacrificing a little bit of storage and walking space. You could add a sink and cooking surface to it. And, lots of extra counter space. The effect was ultra-modern, chic.

Even today, people across the globe have different perspectives when it comes to kitchen island vs peninsula. And, why not? They deserve to have a choice. Fortunately today, peninsulas have made a comeback and how! Instead of the typical U-shaped ones, they are now available in varied designs.

We have compared the two in terms of seven parameters and then summed up their differences. We hope this article offers all that you’re looking for…and then some. So, here goes.

kitchen with peninsulaPhoto by John Coley on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Kitchen island vs peninsula parameters

1. Kitchen layout

Those who spend a lot of time in their kitchens will definitely agree with the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). According to them, the main axis points in a kitchen are the sink, stove, and refrigerator. Together, they make the kitchen work triangle.

How they are placed in relation to each other makes a lot of difference to the way you work. The layout must offer clear space and path for the cook to operate. It must increase efficiency, not hamper it.

For an ideal setup, the sum of the distance between each of these should not be more than 26 feet. Furthermore, each of them shouldn’t be less than four feet or more than nine feet.

So, whether installing an island or peninsula, do ensure that you DO NOT block this triangle. If the structure disrupts this workflow, then it’s not a good fit. Period.

Because an island gives you clear access to the workstation on all four sides, it frees your movement in the kitchen. It creates a perfect point where your friends and family can be part of the kitchen activity without being intrusive. Such a design is ideal for L- and U-shaped kitchens.

The peninsula suits smaller kitchens and is easier to structure into the kitchen design. As mentioned above, it improves your L-shaped kitchen — offering a natural border between your kitchen and dining area.

2. Design choices

When it comes to an island, you can either match it with the rest of the kitchen decor in terms of countertops and woodwork or use it as a contrasting piece in the kitchen. Think of it as a distinct unit that effortlessly transitions into the next room through an open floor plan. The options are many.

A peninsula, on the other hand, should ideally match the existing kitchen space and cabinet style for a unified appearance. If your countertops are natural stone, a peninsula must be too. In this sense, a peninsula is limited in terms of design choices.

3. Kitchen space available

kitchen islandPhoto by John Coley on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

An island is meant for large kitchens. As per NKBA, it requires at least 36 inches of clearance on all four sides to move around and a minimum of 42 inches for the workstation. And if an appliance — such as a dishwasher, refrigerator, or oven — opens towards it, you will need more area.

A peninsula does not take up a great deal of open space in a kitchen. However, if you have a U-shaped peninsula, it might create dead space in the corner where it meets a wall or cabinet. It is quite difficult to utilize the area beneath the peninsula.

Another disadvantage is the way a peninsula limits access to the kitchen. You may have one or maximum two entrances — creating a problem when you have a large family of guests over for dinner.

Our advice: go for a perpendicular peninsula instead of a standard U-shaped one. It has the look of an island and requires less space to install. 

The best part is that both islands and peninsulas can be built in different sizes. It all depends on the space available. Both can double as a casual dining space or a mini bar.

4. Costs

Keep your kitchen remodel budget in mind when going for either an island or a peninsula. Do remember to hire specialists for the job. Especially when it comes to an island. The installation entails detailed wiring and plumbing. Usually, peninsulas do not disrupt the work triangle so there’s no need to move sinks or appliances. However, make sure the job is done well.

Let’s do some maths.

On average, a kitchen remodeling costs approximately $101 per square foot of counter space with changed cabinets and countertops. The amount WILL include replacing existing appliances with better, energy-efficient ones and a sink with faucets. It DOES NOT include new flooring.

The average cost for a kitchen island:

  • Material = $101 per square foot
  • Carpenter = $70 an hour
  • Electrician = $75 an hour
  • Plumber = $55 an hour
  • Painter = $28 an hour
  • Countertop installer = $15 per square foot

For a 24 square feet kitchen island with a sink, dishwasher, cabinet, and an overhanging granite countertop for seating will set you back by $2,425 for material alone. Add Labor cost of $2,075 — and you are poorer by $4,500.

The average cost for a peninsula:

Cost of a peninsula with custom cabinetry and countertops = $90 per square foot

Labor required (need not be a specialist installer)

  • Carpenter
  • Electrician for outlets
  • Painter
  • Countertop installer

For a kitchen peninsula of 24 square feet with only cabinets and an overhanging granite countertop for seating will be around $2,160. Add $970 labor cost and you end up spending approximately $3,130.

kitchen with peninsulaPixabay

5. The actual installation

The installation of both kitchen island and peninsula are more or less similar when it comes to new construction. As plumbing and electrical wiring are already taken care of, placing the cabinet (and other structures) is not so different.

But, when it’s a kitchen remodeling project, there’s a clear-cut winner. The peninsula will be the easier of the two. Cabinets and other structures are easily built upon existing ones. It doesn’t even need much electrical wiring and plumbing.

In the case of an island, it will need to be placed correctly in the existing floor space and then built from the floor up. You also need to check with local building codes and ordinances apart from the NKBA codes when it comes to measurements and clearance restrictions. An island needs detailed electric and plumbing work — a more difficult and expensive task than a peninsula.

6. Setting up appliances

An island is the perfect place for your cooktop, oven, and sink. It makes your kitchen super efficient. However, it requires a lot of planning. Installing a vent hood, putting a sink, appliances such as a dishwasher or garbage disposal — can be expensive and time-consuming.

Whether it’s remodeling or new construction, a peninsula keeps the triangle flow of movement efficient — and still add extra storage space. You can supply electricity to your gadgets directly from a wall. No need to pass the wiring through the floor.

7. Resale Value

When installing a kitchen island or peninsula — do remember that neither of them will make a significant difference when it comes to a return-on-investment for your house. They may add to the aesthetics of your home — an island giving it an open look and a peninsula making it more functional — but they do not add to the resale value of your property. An island, however, may be a tad more popular with new-age buyers so might help you sell your house faster.

Summary

To make the selection easier for you, let’s sum up the differences in a clear manner.

KITCHEN ISLAND PROS & CONS

PROS

  • Modern design
  • Makes the kitchen look spacious and open
  • Popular and versatile
  • Easy access from all four sides
  • Lots of space for appliances
  • Can accommodate more amenities
  • More design options available

CONS

  • Not practical for a small kitchen
  • Requires a lot of open space
  • Remodeling not as easy
  • More expensive installation
  • Requires special electrical wiring and plumbing

PENINSULA PROS AND CONS

PROS

  • Perfect for small kitchens
  • Functional and more traditional
  • Preserves a semi-open room concept
  • Demarcates kitchen from the dining area
  • Easier to add during remodeling
  • Cheaper to install
  • No specialists required

CONS

  • Limits access to the kitchen
  • Disrupts traffic flow
  • Not great for busy kitchens
  • Creates dead space in the corners
  • Must match the cabinetry for a unified look
  • Limited choices of color and make available

What we see here is that overall, the kitchen island and peninsula are different — yet similar. Both give your kitchen extra workspace, storage, and a dedicated area for your family and friends to gather. So, whichever you choose, just make sure that the work triangle stays open and clear.

Keep all the above parameters in mind and choose the better fit for your home. And, you want to know a secret? Since there’s no rule against having a peninsula as well as an island in your large kitchen, you can have both! One for seating and the other for appliances and storage.

Kitchen Island Vs Peninsula: A Complete Comparison was last modified: April 20th, 2019 by Ramona Sinha
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