The process of kitchen planning is more complicated than just choosing the appliances and the colour of the kitchen cabinets. Besides deciding on the layout of the room based on the kitchen dimensions, there are several measurements that can make the difference between an ergonomically designed space and an ordinary one.
Most homeowners don’t have much of an idea about the ideal space to be left between two rows of kitchen counters or the right height for a bar counter that will be used for eating. During the process of kitchen planning, it’s also essential to decide on the various elements that need to be incorporated into the room and to consider how many people will be using it at the same time.
By consulting a professional kitchen planner, a homeowner can get a kitchen floor plan that is best suited to the dimensions of the room as well as one that is customized to the needs of the family. From helping to plan the ideal height of the kitchen cabinets to the exact location of the island counter, a professional can help with suggestions on the layout as well as the measurements of the various elements to make the kitchen efficient and aesthetically appealing.
To make the kitchen comfortable for working, the placement of the three most significant elements – the stove, sink and refrigerator – should be in a triangle to facilitate unrestricted movement between each of these elements. If you plan to design your own kitchen layout, keep in mind that each of the three legs of the triangle should be between 4 feet and 9 feet in length to make the workspace efficient. Anything less and it will be cramped, hindering easy movement. Too much, and it will reduce the accessibility between elements. Ideally, the sum of the length of the three legs should not exceed 26 feet.
The aisle in the kitchen refers to the area between two rows of counters. The ideal measurement of the aisle in any kitchen will depend on the number of people who use it. Additionally, it should allow the kitchen cabinet doors to be opened without banging into anything else in the room. Of course, the layout is a primary element of kitchen planning that will influence the width of the aisle.
In an L-shaped kitchen designed for one cook, where one of the walls doesn’t have cabinets or counters against it, an aisle width of 40 inches will be enough. With this measurement, a drawer or a cabinet door can be easily opened with enough space for the cook to stand behind it. Some kitchen planning guides allow this measurement to be as low as 36 inches as it will provide more storage area for thin shelves to be placed on the opposite wall. This measurement of 40 inches is also ideal for the area to be left free between the two parallel legs in a u-shaped kitchen layout that is used by a single person.
For a kitchen floor plan with a galley-style layout, the clearance between the two rows of counters should be 42 inches, if one person is using the kitchen. However, before planning the kitchen, check the exact measurements of the base cabinet doors when they swing out as they should not clash against each other. If the galley-style kitchen is being used by more than one person, then the recommended width of the aisle is 48 inches.
If the kitchen layout includes a dining table in the room, then the clearance between the edge of the counter to the table should be at least 72 inches so that the chair can easily be pulled in or out without hindering the movement in the kitchen. However, during kitchen planning, if one is sure that cooking and eating won’t take place simultaneously in the room, then the aisle width can be reduced to 48 inches.
Usually, the eating counter in the kitchen is at the same height as the work counters – 36 inches. For the family or guests to be able to eat comfortably, the counter should account for a width of 24 inches per person and a depth of 15 inches. If the counter is used for other purposes such as a home office with a laptop or desk for the kids’ homework, then the depth should be at least 30 inches. When you are looking for tips in a kitchen planning guide, don’t forget to check on the right height for the seating. For a 36-inch high counter, the stool should be at least 24 inches high.
Sometimes, the kitchen has a bar counter that is higher than the worktops. In such cases, the kitchen planning should be done according to the height. In general, the standard height of a bar counter in a kitchen is 42 inches. Additionally, like with the eating counter, the minimum area required per person to offer a comfortable place for eating should be 24 inches in width and 15 inches in depth. Moreover, if the bar will also be used as a workspace for the home office or any other purpose, then the depth should be more. Make sure that the seating is of the right height – at least 30 inches high with enough leg space under the counter (12 inches minimum depth). Otherwise, the knees will feel terribly cramped under the counter.
Since the kitchen door provides main access to the room, it needs to be given priority during kitchen planning. The doorway should be sufficiently wide – at least 34 inches, and when the door swings into the kitchen, it should not take up too much space.
Appliances like the cooking range, dishwasher, microwave and oven have doors than open out into the kitchen. One should ensure that the doors of these appliances do not obstruct each other or overlap when they are opened.
Architects usually have guidelines regarding the area to be left free around the main kitchen appliances such as the stove, refrigerator and oven. While this might not be possible in small kitchens, it’s worth considering them for big kitchens to make the work flow more efficient. Similarly, there should be enough space around the sink and on the work counters to ensure that the kitchen is comfortable to work in.
For instance, the dishwasher should be located close to the sink, making it easy to load it with dirty or pre-rinsed dishes. Additionally, it should have enough clearance to allow its door to open without any hindrance. There should not be a perpendicular door of either an appliance or a cabinet within 21 inches of the dishwasher door.
The placement of the sink should ensure that one of the sides has a clearance of at least 36 inches, including a draining board of at least 18 inches, while the other side should have a minimum area of 18 inches.
When planning the location of the stove, there should be at least 12 inches of clearance on either side of it. In the case of a stove on an island counter, there should also be a minimum clearance of 9 inches behind the stove. From a safety perspective, any vertical surface above the cooking area should be at least 24 inches higher than the stove. The counter near the sink should have a work space that is 36 inches wide and 24 inches deep.
Finally, one of the most important factors to consider during kitchen planning is the door swing clearance of the refrigerator. The opening of the refrigerator door should not be hindered by a wall or a cabinet. If it is located near the wall, provide buffer space so that the door can open fully, allowing you to pull the shelves and drawers out comfortably for accessing items or for cleaning.