Kitchen Space Design

  • 01 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design

    Beautiful Updated Kitchen
    chuckcollier/E+/Getty Images

    When designing your kitchen remodel, it's tempting to cut loose with spacing and placement. Right? Within limits, you can. Limits stem from building code (mandatory) and space design recommendations (voluntary, but highly recommended), many derived from the National Kitchen & Bath Association's Kitchen Planning Guidelines.

    I have further adapted some of these guidelines. For instance, minimum landing areas needed for ​​kitchen countertops are sometimes squarish (i.e., 15" x 16"). Instead of stopping at a 16" depth, I extend it to the entire depth of the counter.

    Index to Guidelines

    • Triangle Distance Between Work Areas
    • Aisle Distance Between Work Areas
    • Walkway Aisle Spacing
    • Seating Clearance
    • Dishwasher Spacing and Placement
    • Countertop Landing Areas
    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Triangle Distance between Work Areas

    Kitchen Triangle Spacing
    Kitchen Triangle Spacing. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler

    The kitchen work triangle is a design concept that recommends that you place your three work areas (sink, refrigerator, and stove) in a triangular fashion.

    But the triangle can't be just any size. Recommended:

    • Total of All 3 Legs of Triangle: 26 feet.
    • Maximum Length of Any Leg: 9 feet.
    • Minimum Length of Any Leg: 4 feet.

    (These space considerations do not apply only to kitchens with islands--but it's clearer to demonstrate the triangle concept with an island.)

    The picture above shows a sample approved kitchen triangle. The three legs total 18 feet (less than 26 feet). With legs of 5 ft., 6 ft., and 7 ft., no leg is less than 4 ft. or greater than 9 ft.

    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Distance between Work Areas

    Recommended Distance Between Kitchen Work Spaces
    Recommended Distance Between Kitchen Work Spaces. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler

    Recommended distance between kitchen work areas below. Note that we are making a distinction between work aisles (which take you from one work area to another) and walkways (which move traffic through the kitchen).

    • 42" Minimum: In a single-cook kitchen
    • 48" Minimum: In a kitchen where more than one cook may be working.

    No maximum distance recommendations.

    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Walkway Aisle Spacing

    Kitchen Space Design - Walkway Aisle Spacing
    Kitchen Space Design - Walkway Aisle Spacing. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler

    Walkways carry traffic through a kitchen. They do not service kitchen work areas, as would work aisles.

    • 36": Recommended minimum width for walkways.
    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Seating Clearance

    Kitchen Design Seating Clearances
    Kitchen Design Seating Clearances. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler

    Seating clearance is flexible and can be adapted to your needs.

    • 44" Minimum: For traffic to walk freely forward behind the seating area.
    • 36" Minimum: For traffic to edge by (sideways) behind the seating area.
    • 32" Minimum: For no expected traffic.
    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Dishwasher Spacing and Placement

    Guidelines for Dishwasher Spacing and Placement
    Guidelines for Dishwasher Spacing and Placement. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler
    • From Dishwasher to Sink: 36" maximum. The intent is two-fold: first, to make sure that the cook can easily move dishes from sink to dishwasher; secondly, to ease under-counter hookups between sink and dishwasher.
    • From Dishwasher to Nearest Base Cabinets or Other Obstruction: 21" minimum. The idea is to give the dishwasher door plenty of room to open.
    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    Kitchen Space Design: Countertop Landing Areas

    Kitchen Countertop Landing Area Guidelines
    Kitchen Countertop Landing Area Guidelines. © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. Image Created With AutoDesk HomeStyler

    What's a landing area? It's a countertop space that allows you to place (or "land") items from sink, refrigerator, cooking surface, and oven service areas. The countertop is adjacent to these areas.

    For example, if a stove has no nearby landing area, the cook may be tempted to place a hot pan that she has just removed in a close but unsafe spot--perhaps on top of the fridge or on the floor.

    A landing area is simply a way of describing the absolute minimum amount of countertop needed adjacent to one of these areas.

    • Sink Landing Area: 24" on one side and 18" on another side.
    • Refrigerator Landing Area: 15" on the handle side of the fridge.
    • Cooking Surface Landing Area: 12" on one side and 15" on another side. If you have a counter with tiers of different heights, you still must provide the 12"/15" minimums on the same level as the cooking surface.
    • Oven Landing Area: 15" adjacent to or above the oven. If the oven door opens onto a work aisle (not a traffic walkway), you are allowed to provide a landing area across from the oven (i.e., a kitchen island) no more than 48" away.