Kitchen design can be as simple as a straight countertop with minimalist appliances, or as sophisticated as multiple sinks, dishwashers, cooktops & ovens in islands, under islands, over islands and more. Wine coolers can fit in the space of a dishwasher or be as tall as a pantry. Sinks can be troughs to be filled with ice to cool bottles, little for an entertainment center, double or triple bowls and an infinite variety of materials. Materials vary enormously, you can go green with countertops made of compressed recycled paper, clear glass, concrete, granite, limestone or the old standbys. Even within materials, such as granite, prices vary enormously depending on the exact stone chosen, and you can find some very reasonable and beautiful stone if you look around. There’s an infinite world of possibilities in the kitchen.
First we can start with some design basics. How much room do I need for a kitchen? Well, that depends on what you want in it. At it’s most mini, you could fit a kitchen into a space 5′-4″ x 7′-5″, but there wouldn’t be much beyond some very small appliances without a dishwasher. Let’s look at some standard appliance and fixtures size ranges.
- Sinks: sinks come in many sizes, depths, materials and prices. You can get them as narrow as 11″ wide, but you probably want to plan at least a 30″ – 36″ cabinet, which can accommodate a wide range of standard size kitchen sinks from 25″ to 33″ in a variety of styles (drop-in, undercounter, or exposed front cut out). You will also need to decide if you like a single, double or triple basin sink, as that will impact available sizes. There is also the option of putting the sink in an island, or putting an entertainment sink or trough sink in a secondary location.
- Dishwashers: dishwashers are pretty easy because they are pretty standard at 24″.
- Cooking: again we have multiple choices, but sizes are a little easier. You have a choice of a free-standing or slide-in, in which the unit fits in between two cabinets, which is generally 30″ wide; a cooktop with separate ovens, (either below or in a separate cabinet), which comes standard in 30″ or 36″ sizes and fit into that size cabinet (although you can get professional style rangetops up to 48″); or a professional style range made by companies such as Viking, Wolfe or GE Monogram which range from 24″ all the way up to 60″, and require significant ventilation. If you choose a separate oven in some kind of wall oven arrangement, standard oven widths are generally 27″ and 30″, although they can be found up to 36″.
- Refrigerators: Choices, choices! Refrigerators are kind of two basic style decisions. Do you want one which is shallow (around 2′) and is known as built-in or counter-depth, or do you want the slightly deeper traditional style where some of refrigerator sides are exposed. The shallower built-in’s generally come in 36″, 42″ & 48″, while the deeper styles can be found just below 30″ wide and up.
- Faucets: Kitchen faucets, besides an almost infinite variety of styles, materials and colors, also have evolved. Faucets are now available just to fill the pots on your stove, have a choice of pull-out sprayer heads or separate sprayer, single or multiple handles, they are available with remote two button controls for a prep sink which allows for a quick sink rinse or a more complete cleansing flow, and can fit any decor from ultra modern to renaissance.
How much countertop is enough? According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) a total of 158 inches (13′-2″) of countertop frontage (not in corners) is needed to accommodate all kitchen uses. Try to allow a continuous section of countertop of at least 36 inches wide by 24 inches deep next to your primary work area. The NKBA recommends that you allow at least a 15 inch countertop area next to your oven and on the handle side of your refrigerator.When talking about storage, the NKBA recommends a total shelf/drawer frontage of 1400 inches for a small kitchen (less then 150sf), 1700 inches for a medium kitchen (151 to 350sf) and 2000 inches for a large kitchen (over 350sf). What does this mean? Does this mean that I need over 100′ of shelves for a little kitchen? Well, yes, but, each drawer or each individual shelf should be counted towards the total. So if you have a 24″ wide cabinet, 30″ high with 3 shelves, you already have 6′ of shelving. And if there were a 24″ base cabinet with 4 drawers, there’s another 8′, so this one 24″ area of your kitchen already has 14′ of shelving.
What is “the work triangle”? The work triangle represents the three major work stations of the kitchen: the cooking area, the refrigerator and the sink. Measuring from the center of each, the maximum total length of the triangle should not be greater then 26 feet with the maximum leg no greater then 9 feet and the minimum not less then 4 feet. At 3D Home Decorator, there are actually 9ft and 4ft arrows that you can place in your floor plans to test distances.
Eating areas are not limited to tables! Islands can accommodate eating areas, cooking areas, washing up areas, or just prep areas. A typical kitchen counter is 34 inches to 36 inches high. A table is typically 30 inches high. So in planning kitchen eating areas, part of an island eating area can be dropped to table height or a table can be built as an extension of an island, left at counter height with stools, or raised to 42 inches for a high countertop eating area, which is often used to hide the work surface of the counter behind it when viewed from the rest of the room.
How much space is ideal between a table and the wall? The NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Assoc.) recommends a minimum of 32 inches if no traffic needs to pass. 36 inches will let someone squeeze by, and 44 inches will let a person walk by. If a wheelchair needs to pass, allow 60 inches.
It is best to vent your stove to the outside if possible, but there are recirculating fans which will draw odors from the air if outside venting is not available Do not put cooking surfaces under operable windows. If you are lucky enough to have an operable window above countertop height in your kitchen, place your sink under it instead of your stove. You can put a microwave with a fan combination over your stove, either exhausting to the outside, or recirculating the air.
Do not waste your kitchen corners. Upper cabinets can be decorative open shelving or have a two part door which opens both sides of the cabinets. Blind base cabinets can have lazy susans, which rotate for access, or base cabinets can have shelves which pull out, swing to the side and allow deeper shelves to be pulled out into accessible locations. While it is the hardest to access, the least expensive solution is just to have deep shelves or a simple lazy-susan (the rotating shelves). If you have an L shaped kitchen or island with a peninsula setup, doors can be placed on both sides for accessibility.
Don’t forget the space between the upper and lower cabinets. If you have more then enough countertop, the space between the upper and lower cabinets (even in the corners) can have tambour doors (rollup doors) which can hide appliances or the space can be filled with open wine racks, leaving half the countertop exposed for the usual purposes.
Cabinets come in all sizes. Base cabinets come in every width from 3 inches up, and depths from 12 inches to 24 inches and larger, so they can fill all kinds of needs. 9 inch and 12 inch base pullouts for soda bottles and cans are wonderful and efficient for filling in narrower spaces. There are base cabinets with pullouts for garbage and/or recycling, or with shelves that lift up for a Kitchenaid Mixmaster type of appliance. A 12 inch deep cabinet at the end of an island can be used for cookbooks or designed for wine storage. Don’t forget full height pantries, which can have shelves, roll-out drawers, door attachments for spices or other specialty storage. Both lower and upper cabinets can be decoratively open for wine, books, glassware, and more. An 18″ or 24″ base could have a small wine or soda refrigerator built in. There are 6″ high drawer cabinets or open shelves which can fit under your upper cabinets to provide storage for smaller items. Base cabinets too can have glass doors and fancy faces, which can be used to display special dishes. With storage at a premium, kitchen cabinets have become very clever about offering maximum efficiency in minimum space.