Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Changing up most spaces throughout your home regularly isn’t a big deal, but the kitchen is a different story altogether. Moving an island might just be a whim, but it can also make your kitchen flow better and make it easier for you and your family to cook.
Can you move a kitchen island? Yes, you can move a kitchen island. If your island is home to a sink, stove, or electrical outlet, the move will be much more complicated, and you will likely need the help of a professional to remove and relocate plumbing, electricity, and possibly gas.
In this article, we will go over how challenging it is to move a kitchen island, the specifics of how to move one, and some alternatives to moving an island that might work better for your space and your family.
Is it Easy to Move a Kitchen Island?
Moving a kitchen island can either be an easy weekend project or a major kitchen renovation project depending on the size and features of your island. The easiest kitchen islands to move are small, with lightweight countertops, and are not anchored to the floor.
Here are 10 things that will make your project more complicated:
- Your gas stove is in your island: Your gas lines will need to be turned off and relocated so that you can still use your stove. This is best done by a professional.
- Another appliance is in your island: If an electric stove or other appliance (like a wine fridge) is in your island, you’ll need to turn off the electricity and remove the electrical that was powering the appliance and relocate it. This is best done by a professional electrician.
- There is a sink in your island: If your kitchen sink or dishwasher is located in your island, you’ll need to have the water supply shut off and the plumbing removed and relocated. This is best done by a professional plumber.
- Your island has outlets: You know that handy outlet on your island that you use to plug in your Instant Pot? It’s not going to seem so convenient when you’re moving your island. You’re going to need to turn off the electricity, remove the electrical equipment that powers it, and if you want to continue using it, relocate it. This is best done by a professional electrician.
- You have essential lighting over your island: Many islands feature pendant lights that illuminate the work area. If you’re moving the island, you might need to have these lights relocated as well.
- Your island is large: If your island is large, it is also going to be heavy and more difficult to move in one piece. You may need to disassemble it quite a bit in order to relocate it. Smaller islands can usually be pushed into place.
- You have heavy countertops: If your countertops are made of heavy stone or cement, you will have to remove them before you can move the island. These things are heavy! They usually take several people to install, and removing them can damage them. To avoid this, you’ll want to have a professional countertop installer to remove them and put them back in place.
- Your island is attached to or constructed around a pillar: A kitchen island can anchor a pillar floating in the middle of your kitchen, but it also means you can’t just push your island to move it. You’ll have to disassemble the island in chunks and move it.
- The flooring was not run under the island: You probably haven’t thought about this, but kitchen cabinets are often installed on the subfloor, and the flooring is installed around them. If you move your island, you’re going to need to patch the floor where the island once sat. This isn’t too hard if your home is relatively new, but it can be a real challenge in older homes.
- Your island is anchored to the floor: Most islands are anchored to the floor for security, but some aren’t. If your builder cut this corner, you’ll have an easier time moving the island.
As you can see, the question of how easy it is to move a kitchen island depends on the design and features of your island.
How to Move a Kitchen Island
If you’re still up to the challenge of moving your kitchen island, below we will discuss all the steps you need to take.
Step One: Figure Out Where You Want to Place the Island
If you’re going through the trouble of moving your kitchen island, then you want to be sure that you make the best decision about where it should go.
- If you’re moving the island to a completely different location, measure your kitchen island and use painters tape to mark out on the floor where you want it to sit. This will help give you an idea of the space it will take up.
- You want 36 to 46 inches around the entire kitchen island to allow people to pass through, but if your island leads into a dining area or a high traffic area, you may want even more. If there are multiple cooks working in your kitchen, you may want more space as well.
- Your kitchen island is going to be the focal point of your kitchen. Pay attention to how it is centered in the space. For example, you might want it centered in front of a window or centered on the entire kitchen, and sometimes these desires conflict.
- What do you plan to use your island for? If you want to use it for food prep, you’ll want it near your stove and refrigerator, but if you plan to use it for entertaining, you might want it closer to your dining space.
- Make sure you can still open your cabinets and appliances all the way before moving your island. You don’t want to unintentionally block your dishwasher!
- To increase the functionality of your kitchen, make sure to keep the triangle clear. You want the path between the fridge, stove, and sink to be unobstructed.
Have you found the right place? You want to be sure before making the big move and also be sure that moving the island is going to be an improvement. Something that might seem like a good idea in the concept phase can be problematic when put into practice. So give the decision plenty of thought before jumping in.
Step Two: Prepare the Island for Moving
Preparing the island to be moved is one of the most time consuming and important parts of this project, but preparing ahead of time will make everything go smoothly, so don’t skip this step.
- Remove items from the cabinets and the drawers. You may need to store items in boxes or in another room so that you have plenty of space to work.
- Remove appliances. Again, these will need to be moved out of the way. You can help protect them by wrapping them in a moving blanket. You might want to use a dolly for heavy or awkward appliances.
- Remove doors, drawers, and shelves and place them someplace where they will be safe from the people working in your kitchen. This is an excellent time for deep cleaning, painting, or a hardware change!
- Remove trim, if there is any.
- If at all possible, remove the countertop to make the island lighter and easier to move. If you have stone countertops, this will require several people. Lightweight laminate countertops can usually be removed by 1 or 2 people, depending on the size, but because they tend to be lighter, you might not have to remove them.
Step Three: Unanchor the Island
Next, you need to test to see if your island is anchored. Give it a good nudge in one direction. If it isn’t anchored, you’ll probably be able to move it on your own, especially if you’ve removed your 300-pound countertop.
If the island doesn’t move, you’ll need to locate where it is anchored. Sometimes the base cabinets of the kitchen island are anchored directly to the floor, and sometimes they are anchored to wood cleats, and the wood cleats are anchored to the floor.
- Check inside the cabinet and see if you can find the screws providing the anchoring. Anchors may also be in or behind the toe kick.
- Once you locate the anchor screws, you can unscrew the cabinet from the floor, and you should be able to move it now.
Step Four: Move the Island
Finally! It is time to move your island into your preferred location. You can just push the island into place at this point, ideally with the help of a few friends.
If your island is large or has multiple base cabinets under it, you can disassemble the cabinet further and move each base cabinet separately. This should be done carefully so as not to damage your cabinets.
Step Five: Reinstall the Island
How you go about reinstalling the island will depend on all you had to do to uninstall it in the first place, so we cannot give specifics, but generally speaking, you can expect that you’ll need to:
- Make sure all utilities are in place, including electric, gas, and plumbing.
- Install lighting.
- Reinstall wood cleats if your island uses them.
- Reanchor the cabinets to the floor.
- Reinstall the countertop.
- Install appliances.
- Put the shelves and drawers back in the cabinet and reattach the doors.
- Replace trim.
Step Six: Patch the Floor Where Your Island Used to Be
Once your island is installed in its new location, you’ll have to do any necessary repairs to its old home. The most common of these repairs will be:
- Remove utilities.
- Patch any hole in the floor.
- Install flooring where the island used to sit if it was sitting subfloor.
- Clean up the mess you’ve made and the dust you’ve kicked up with a whole kitchen deep clean.
Alternatives to Moving the Island
Maybe after reading all that, moving your kitchen island isn’t sounding like the best idea? It is likely that the original location of your island was carefully thought out, and there are good reasons why it is where it is. There are some other things you might try instead of moving your kitchen island around that could solve your kitchen woes.
We’ve got some ideas for you so that you can make your kitchen more functional and comfortable without necessarily moving your island.
Ditch the Overhang
If your island is made of natural stone, you can have the overhang removed by a professional, or if you don’t love your countertops, you can have a new countertop installed that does not have an overhang.
Overhangs can be great and function if you use them, but this largely depends on your personal habits and the needs of your family. If you aren’t using that bar seating, look into getting rid of it. Removing an overhang can free up more space for walking and make an island that is out of proportion with your kitchen smaller.
Add an Overhang
While we just discussed ditching the overhang, there are situations where adding one does make sense. If you want to repurpose your dining space and remove your kitchen table, adding an overhang can give you a comfortable dining space without the need for a kitchen table. It can be a great space saver if your home feels cramped.
Remove a Base Cabinet
You could just remove a portion of the island. You will need to have your countertop recut or a new countertop installed. This can help make a cramped kitchen feel more open, but you may want to check with a professional about how to do this most effectively.
Dress it Up
If your kitchen island is just an eyesore, there is so much you can do to dress it up without moving it away or removing it. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Replace the countertop or resurface it!
- Paint the base cabinet in a color that contrasts with the rest of your kitchen.
- Add molding and trim to give a more substantial look.
- Swap out outdated fixtures like sink faucets and lighting.
- If you swap out the countertops, consider a waterfall edge for a clean, modern look.
Replace the Island Completely
Whether you need to move your island or you just need a new look, tearing down and replacing the island is an option. A new kitchen island will likely cost you in the thousands of dollars, though, and if your taste tends toward high-end touches, you could be looking at $10,000 easily.
If you’re replacing the island entirely, you could also go with a freestanding island or something more akin to a work table. These can be more easily moved in the future if you like to change up your spaces regularly.
Opt for a Peninsula
Instead of moving the island, it might work better in your kitchen to opt for a peninsula. Peninsulas offer the added workspace that an island provides, but you don’t have to worry about having as much clearance on one side, and you can make them as long or short as you’d like.
If you decide to go fo a peninsula instead of an island, you may need to replace your countertops.
Change the Shape of Your Island
Instead of tearing out your kitchen island, you could add on to it. If you have a large kitchen or if you’re looking to turn your island into an entertaining or dining space, you might consider an L-shaped or a T-shaped island.
These will certainly be the focal point of your kitchen and will only work in certain spaces, but they can add a ton of functionality to your space.
Alternatively, if you have a small or oddly shaped kitchen, you could add in an island that is rounded or an octagon!
Should You Move a Kitchen Island?
If you are lucky enough to have an island that is easy to move without too much fuss, then, by all means, go ahead and tackle this project. It is fairly straightforward as long as your island is simple.
But if moving your island is going to involve moving utilities and appliances, it probably isn’t worth it unless you’re already doing a major kitchen renovation, and eventually, you’ll want to do one of those as your kitchen’s age increases.
My advice? Wait until you’re ready to redo your kitchen and then design the island of your dreams. Otherwise, you might end up doing the job twice. Once when you move the island and again when you remodel your kitchen. Of course, if your island is a complete untenable location, then as long as you have the money and the time, there’s nothing stopping you!
Share this Post