When beginning to design your dream kitchen layout there are a couple of elements to keep in mind. Now I know that I’m going to be giving you a lot of information here, a lot of numbers, and a TON of things to consider. Please keep in mind that many of these are ideal situations and not all kitchens will lend themselves to them, just do the best you can and then consult a professional designer, they are the experts after all.
THE WORK TRIANGLE
A working triangle refers to the distance between the Range or Cooktop, Refrigerator, and sink. You should have no more than 9’ (108”) and no less than 4’ (48”), these minimums and maximums exist to create an adequate level of comfort. Also consider if you are placing another sink for prep into your kitchen, you’ve created a second triangle and should be mindful of its functionality as much as your main sink. You’re working triangle (s) should never be interrupted by a traffic route (in the ideal situation).
Landing Zones or drop zones are places to put your whisk, the hot soup pot, maybe the items you’ve pulled from the freezer as you dig a little deeper. There are a few minimums to keep in mind with your design. The first of which it your Range, by code you need a minimum of 18” horizontal space from your cook top to a combustible surface (meaning from the cook top to the side of your refrigerator, as an example), I would recommend at least 24”. A refrigerator should have at least 15” of counter space, either directly beside it or no greater than 48” away, such as an island. Wall ovens require at least 15” of counter space, with a minimum depth of 16” either adjacent to it or above (think of the turkey roaster). Microwaves need 15” of counter space, with a minimum of 16” in depth above, beside or below. Often you will have a landing zone that services two appliances, in this situation the ideal solution is to take the largest landing zone size and add 12” to it.
Door Swings & Clearances seem an obvious consideration, but often times the collision of items is not noticed until the kitchen has been installed. A couple items to double check your design for are; Cabinet doors, do they clear all the trim (windows and doors), will they open up to cover a window, will that handle hit something like the adjacent cabinet. Also consider your lighting type. I’ve seen full height cabinets installed to the ceiling and when the door opened it smacked into the track lighting. Ensure all Drawers have room to clear handles on adjacent cabinets. As well that the drawers can be fully extended. And the final big one I’ve seen many times is the Fridge. Does it have enough space to open the door or doors without hitting the island, or the wall beside it?
A few walking clearances to keep in mind are between the counter and that island that you always wanted, move forward with a 42” Minimum. Code says you can go as small as 36”, but if you imaging your dishwasher is open, and you’re caring your Christmas turkey from one end of the kitchen to the other. You can’t see your feet, your shin hits the dishwasher door, and your beautiful turkey takes one last flight from your hands. Considering an eating bar? Think of the walking space behind your dinners, 36 inches gives you just enough room for a dinner to be seated and have someone edge past behind them, whereas 44” is the minimum for a seated dinner in a traffic path. When working with disabled people you require a minimum of 60” to allow for a wheel chair to turn unhindered.
With today’s open concept living, many homes now find the dining room and kitchen acting as one space. If you are a decorator with more traditional taste, or looking to define the dinning from the kitchen you could consider an area rug. A few things to keep in mind when choosing your area rug, and perhaps the table to adorn it are that you will need a minimum of 24” around the table for your chairs. Now here I say minimum, think of when your kid pushes their chair away from the table to get down, how far back will those back legs travel? Will they remain on the rug, or will they slip off the back?
WHERE DO I PUT MY DISHWASHER?
The placement of your dishwasher may seem trivial; but its location affects your level of comfort. Have you ever had a kitchen where the dishwasher is directly across from the range? And when you have doors open they bang into each other? Or the dishwasher is located across from the sink in the island and your taking your wet dishes from the sink dripping onto the to get to the dishwasher? The optimal placement for your dishwasher is to the right of the sink, unless of course your left handed, then the left would be most comfortable.
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