Pros And Cons Of An L-Shaped Island
Kitchen remodels and renovations are one of the best ways you can improve the value of your home. But since no kitchen is created equal, you will have to decide which type of layout is best for the available space in addition to what features you would like for your new kitchen to have.
One of the more popular kitchen layouts is the L-shaped island. In this post, we’re going to dive into the many benefits of an L-shaped kitchen island, including how an L-shaped island can help make a space more attractive, improve traffic flow, and more. Of course, no yin is complete without its yang, so we will also cover the potential cons of an L-shaped island, such as cost efficiency, storage inadequacies, and spacing issues. By the end of this article, you’ll have lots of inspiration for different kitchen layouts with island and peninsula additions.
Whether or not each pro and con applies to you will be according to your individual circumstances, so make sure to read through carefully, consider your available space, and match it with whether or not an L-shaped island matches up with your vision for your new dream kitchen. If it doesn’t, we’ll even throw in a little bonus for you and summarize some other island designs that may be better suited for different kitchen layouts.
Since we have a lot of ground to cover, let’s get right to it!
What is an L-shaped Island?
No better place to start than this! What exactly is an L-shaped island kitchen, anyway?
Standard L-shaped kitchens consist of two adjoining, perpendicular walls of cabinets that form the L shape that gives the style its name. These walls are commonly referred to as the “arms” or “legs” of the kitchen, depending who you ask.
Most often, one section of the L is designed to be used as a clean-up zone, likely including the sink. The other section will incorporate the kitchen appliances, such as your stove, microwave, refrigerator, etc. The island then sits in the middle of the open L with spacing in between. This layout helps to separate the clean-up and cooking areas, creating a more optimized kitchen layout.
The highly-functional L-shaped layout seems to be created specifically for open-living floor plans, which is a very popular feature among today’s homeowners. For instance, this layout is great if you want to open up your kitchen to your dining room, The L sections can vary in length depending on the dimensions of the room and are able to fit well into both small and large spaces.
As you can see, we’ve started singing the L-shaped island’s praises before we even began to really get into the pros, but there are many more to come.
5 Pros of L-shaped Island Kitchens
1. Great Picks for Open Floor Plans
As we just mentioned above, L-shaped island kitchens are a great fit if you want an open-concept kitchen plan. The perpendicular walls of the L-shaped kitchen style give homeowners great flexibility when it comes to setting boundaries between living spaces in a way that seamlessly blends them together. A kitchen can clearly be the kitchen next to the living room without any physical walls needed to mark the lines.
The L-shaped island, therefore, fits perfectly into the spirit of “open” living. The great flexibility offered by an L-shaped island allows you to get your appliances in a row and line up your kitchen and dining area.
The L-shaped kitchen island is so popular because of its versatility. In fact, the L-shaped island kitchen is thought to be the most versatile of all kitchen remodel layouts. Its adaptability to fit into any room allows you to maximize your existing space and create a functional kitchen in which you can easily walk around in. This gives you a kitchen that seems much more spacious than it actually is.
The versatility extends to the work zones as well. Since one leg or arm of the L will be devoted to clean up, while the other will house your stove, oven, and microwave, your cooking and cleaning zones will be separated. This is part of the reason there are so many popular L-shaped kitchen plans today.
You can even choose to set your cooktop and oven in your island (called a double L), keeping your wall space mainly for storage. Or you can use the island for storage, prep, or as your dining counter. The L-shaped island provides you with many options for how you would like your kitchen to function.
3. Improved Traffic and Workflow
L-shaped kitchen island layouts are typically much more functional than other designs. You will be able to easily move between your sink, oven, stove, and refrigerator, as well as your food prep area. No matter how you choose to lay out your kitchen, the work triangle functionality makes it easy for you to move from station to station.
This creates a much more cohesive kitchen, giving even the most ambitious home chefs a harmonious environment in which to create their culinary masterpieces, all while staying open to the rest of the home and engaging with friends and family.
4. Optimized Storage Solutions
Space can often be at a premium in your kitchen, forcing you to get creative with how to fit all of your kitchen items into your available cabinet space so you aren’t left with a bunch of counter clutter. L-shaped kitchen layouts provide further versatility by being flexible to some particularly trendy corner storage options, such as magic corner units, Le Mans pullout units, or even carousel units.
By using your corner space for storage, you will maximize the functionality of your kitchen and make the most of your corner spaces. Anything you store in these corner areas will be easy to access, and the different options provide you with as much storage space as you require. You can then use the majority of your kitchen space for cooking and cleaning.
5. Perfect for Smaller Spaces
As you may have guessed, the L-shaped design is well-suited for homes that don’t have much square footage to use for the kitchen. As the layout of an L-shaped kitchen island only requires two adjacent walls, it makes them perfect for small and medium-sized spaces. For those smaller homes with a galley kitchen, the L-shaped design offers a worthy upgrade to optimize the available space and open up the room.
You’ll essentially free up a wall and allow you and your family to move around your kitchen easier. It will also make the room feel more spacious. So if you’ve got two walls and are looking to upgrade — the L-shaped kitchen island is for you!
5 Cons of L-shaped Island Kitchens
Of course, no kitchen style or layout is without its flaws. Here are a few potential cons of the L-shaped kitchen island.
1. Reduced Efficiency in an Open Floor Plan
In some cases, the L-shaped design can actually lead to spacing issues and make cooking more of a chore than it needs to be. While the L-shape can create tons of space, that may actually end up becoming a problem, as the appliances and workspaces become too spread out. While some homeowners may like this spacing, others may not want to have to walk back and forth so much between appliances, prep counter, and sink, causing their kitchen to be less efficient.
To best optimize the L-shaped layout, the cabinet and counter area should not span the entire length of the walls, otherwise, things will be far too spread apart. Often, the island in this design is used to help deal with some of these spacing issues. Of course, this depends on how much space you have to work with.
2. Best-suited for Single Cooks
Ever hear the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen?” Well, with an L-shaped island, “too many” refers to any more than one. This is especially true the smaller the space is that you have to work with.
The perpendicular layout of the kitchen simply isn’t suited for multiple cooks and creates a restricted space. If your family enjoys working together to create meals, the L-shaped design may not be your best option. However, with the island, you can keep family members close while seated at the island and be able to converse easily while you work your magic in the kitchen.
3. Corner Issues
Obviously having cabinets in a corner can have some disadvantages. Picture cabinets slamming into each other or small counter appliances scrunched together to leave space for food prep. Sometimes, items in these corner cabinets can also be difficult to reach.
There are solutions available for these issues, such as the carousel corner, magic corner units, or Le Mans corner units that help enhance the functionality of your corner cabinets. The island can also be used for easier storage for those items you use often.
4. Not Well-suited for Large Kitchens
As we mentioned above, having too much space can also be a bad thing. Too much counter space will spread your appliances out too far and leave you with a less-efficient kitchen. The flow of your work triangle will be compromised. For these reasons, the L-shaped island kitchen is not recommended for large kitchen designs.
Things will simply be too spread out. The L-shaped island will work best in kitchens that open to another room and have a limited area to work with. If you try to extend the L shape down longer walls, it will end up looking awkward and be difficult to manage.
A possible hangup for the L-shaped island is the price. An L-shaped island kitchen falls in the mid-range of kitchen layouts prices and can be customized different ways to raise or lower the price point. However, it is not the least expensive options for those on a tight budget. Using free-standing appliances can help cut down costs.
Other Kitchen Layout & Design Options
The L-shaped island design is not the only kitchen layout available to choose from. In fact, there are a couple of stages of planning you should go through when choosing your kitchen renovation.
Island vs. Peninsula
The simple difference between the kitchen island and peninsula layout is that an island is free standing on all four sides, while a peninsula is attached to a wall or other structure on one side and open on the other three. The peninsula is an extension of the kitchen while the island will stand alone.
Each option can offer advantages for storage, functionality, and counter and seating space, so the one that best suits your kitchen will likely come down to your available space.
Islands require more space for people to pass by on all sides while keeping the kitchen work triangle open. If the island disrupts the workflow in the kitchen, then it would be best to leave it out. Likewise, if there isn’t enough space for people to comfortably pass by on all sides, then stick with the peninsula design. A peninsula will offer a better alternative if the island does not compliment your space.
The U-shape kitchen design is perhaps the most versatile layout of all, and suitable for both large and small kitchens. In a U-shape design, the cook is surrounded on all sides and provides an efficient work triangle. There is a large amount of storage and counter space and provides a barrier between the cooking and dining areas.
A variation of the U-shape, the G-Shape design adds a peninsula or a partial fourth wall. This extra space can be used for extra countertop, storage space, or both. Those with larger kitchens and more needs can even add a second sink or range, creating two separate work triangles.
Best-suited for small condos and homes, the single-wall kitchen places the sink between the range and refrigerator, allowing maximum efficiency within limited space. The refrigerator door should open away from the sink to reduce interruption.
The galley kitchen consists of two workspaces along adjacent walls that is well-suited for kitchens with a narrow space. The sink is often on one wall while the refrigerator and cooktop are on the opposite side.
A renovated kitchen home improvement project can increase your home value and greatly improve the overall flow and layout of your home, but it takes careful evaluation to decide which kitchen layout will be best for your space. If you need some help, our San Diego home renovation experts at Remodel Works will be happy to help you create the most efficient kitchen for your available space. Contact a specialist today.