Let’s face it, if you do not know the fundamental rules of kitchen design, then designing your kitchen layout can be harder than Chinese algebra!
So, I am going to make your job that little bit easier for you. Here is a summary of 39 kitchen design rules that will help you. I have listed below what I think are the most important considerations when designing a kitchen.
Memorize or bookmark (Ctrl+D) these kitchen layout rules and use it in conjunction with your own kitchen layout. These rules are not set in concrete and you can vary the distances but they should be considered minimum workable distances.
Rule 1 - Your kitchen should not be the main thoroughfare to the rest of your home. This means foot traffic should not cross the kitchen work triangle. (An exception can be made for the refrigerator).
In Figure 1 (below) you can see that the wall oven is located to the left of the hallway door and that foot traffic intersects the work triangle. As this is a main thoroughfare to the rest of the house, it is important to move the oven to a safer area.
In Figure 2 (below) the wall oven does not become a safety issue as we have swapped the wall oven position with the refrigerator.
The new position of the wall oven will also satisfy kitchen Rule #18 (a minimum 400 mm (16″) set down space is required beside an oven).
The new position of the refrigerator will also satisfy kitchen Rule#22 (A minimum of 400 mm (16″) landing space is required on the door opening side of a fridge).
Note that it is OK for a refrigerator to be outside of the work triangle as this minimises frequent visits by other members of the family interrupting your cooking or preparation activities.
Rule 2 - The total length of the work triangle (the cumulative distance between the cooktop / fridge / sink) should not exceed 7000 mm (23′).
The ideal length of the work triangle lies between 4000 mm (13′) and 6000 mm (19′).
For those with large kitchens, consider having 2 or 3 separate zones.
Rule 3 - The minimum opening between cabinets in a doorway should be 800 mm (31 1/2″).
Rule 4 – Appliance doors or entry doors should not interfere with the work centres.
Rule 5 - You should not place a full height cabinet or appliance between any two of the major work centres.
Figure 1 (below) shows the refrigerator dividing the cleaning work centre and the cooking work centre. The refrigerator needs to be moved elsewhere.
Figure 2 (below) shows the refrigerator moved to the left of the cleaning work centre. This is a much more favourable kitchen layout as the bench space is now continuous.
Rule 6 – A minimum of 1000 mm (39″) of floor space between countertops is recommended (1200 mm or 47″ is preferred).
The bare minimum distance from the dishwasher to the kitchen island is 900 mm (36″).
The bare minimum distance from the underbench oven to the kitchen island is 900 mm (36″).
Rule 7 – If there are two cooks in the kitchen a minimum of 1200 mm (47″) is required for one person to edge past the other by turning and passing with bodies parallel.
Rule 8 – For two people to pass with ease, a 1500 mm (59″) between countertops is required.
Rule 9 – The sink should be in the centre of the work triangle as it is the most used area in the kitchen.
Rule 10 – At least 300 mm (12″) of counter space should be allowed from the edge of the sink to the inside corner of the counter top.
Rule 11 – The sink area should have counter space either side of it.
The total workspace should be a minimum of 1050 mm (41″).
Rule 12 – When placing a dishwasher near a corner, allow at least a 500 mm (20″) space from the corner for ease of access.
Rule 13 – You must allow standing space in front of the dishwasher for unloading.
Rule 14 – The minimum safe distance from a window to an electric cooktop should be 400 mm (16″).
The minimum safe distance from a window to a gas cooktop should be 500 mm (20″). (Best to check with local government guidelines in your area).
Rule 15 – The minimum landing space either side of a cooktop is 300 mm (12″).
Rule 16 – At least 300 mm (12″) of counter space should be allowed from the edge of the cooking surface to the inside corner of the counter top.
Rule 17 – Extraction of air is required at cooking surfaces.
Rule 18 – A minimum 400 mm (16″) set down space is required beside an oven.
If this is not possible then a benchtop within 1200 mm (47″) of the oven is OK (except where this crosses a major walkway).
Rule 19 – A minimum 400 mm (16″) set down space is required beside a microwave oven.
If this is not possible then a benchtop within 1200 mm (47″) of the oven is OK. (except where this crosses a major walkway).
Rule 20 – Try and keep the microwave within the most active part of the kitchen.
Rule 21 – The height of the microwave (base) above the floor should be between 900 mm (36″) and 1250 mm (49″).
If this is not possible then a benchtop within 1200 mm (47″) of the fridge is OK (except where this crosses a major walkway).
Rule 23 – Consideration to the location of services requires careful planning. To prevent appliances (i.e dishwashers etc) projecting past the countertop you must place the services in a cabinet beside the appliance.
Rule 24 – Smoke detectors should be installed in the appropriate location for the type used.
Rule 25 – Consider installing a fire extinguisher and fire blanket which is easily accessible in the kitchen.
Rule 26 – The preparation area should be a minimum of 900 mm (36″) in width.
Rule 27 – Likewise, the serving area should be a minimum of 900 mm (36″) width.
Rule 28 – If there are two cooks and you don’t have 2 separate 900 mm (36″) wide preparation areas, a consolidated area of 1500 mm (59″) wide is good.
Rule 29 – Store regularly used items between eye and hip level.
Rule 30 – 1800 mm (71″) from the floor is considered to be the maximum safe storage height.
Rule 31 – You should consider items to be stored at the first or last place of use. Heavy equipment should be stored near floor level.
Rule 32 – When considering the countertop height, it should be designed for the cook to work without raising the hand above the elbow.
Rule 33 – The minimum chair pullout distance from the table to the wall is 600 mm (24″).
Rule 34 – A minimum of 900 mm (36″) in depth allows another to person to edge behind a seated diner.
Rule 35 – A minimum of 1100 mm (43″) in depth provides walking space behind a seated diner.
Rule 36 – Always comply with manufacturers installation instructions for appliances.
Rule 37 – All kitchen designs should comply with national kitchen standards.
Rule 38 – When working out natural lighting for the kitchen a good rule of thumb is no less than 10% of the kitchen floor area.
Rule 39 – Natural ventilation should be provided by windows, doors or other devices that can be opened and closed. Allow for a minimum of 5% of the total floor area.