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Kitchen Design: Key Measurements

By on Jul 14, 2016
Kitchen Design: Key Measurements

Thinking about doing a kitchen renovation? You’re not alone. For many households, the kitchen is the center of the home and the hub of activity. Remodeling the kitchen can be a major undertaking, but with proper preparation and helpful guidance from a designer, your makeover can go smoothly. There are certain standards and guidelines that apply to kitchen design to help you get the ball rolling: the size of cabinets, counters and appliances and clearance space to ensure an efficient and comfortable kitchen without traffic problems. Before you get started on your kitchen renovation project, familiarize yourself with these considerations that will ensure your kitchen is as functional and enjoyable as possible.

Kitchen Cabinets


New cabinetry will serve as the backbone of the kitchen. Configure the cabinetry to make the most use of your kitchen’s size and floor plan. Here are some basic dimensions that will help you envision your new space. Most standard base cabinets are 34-1/2” high. Add an additional 1-1/2” for a standard countertop and 18” for a standard backsplash. The standard depth will be 24”. Countertops typically will be installed around 25 1/2” in depth to allow for an overhang. An overhang allows for spills to fall onto the floor instead of onto your cabinets.

Sizes for upper wall cabinets vary a great deal. Standard depth varies between 12" to 13" with the exception cabinets above the fridge which are 24’’. In height, cabinets often extend to the ceiling in order to maximize storage space. Standard widths for cabinetry are typically available in 3” increments, with the exception for custom cabinets that can be made to any dimension. This is a brief overview of cabinetry dimensions, but partner with your designer to see what's available to fit into the dimensions of your room.


If you’ve been thinking about a remodel, odds are you've heard a lot about the kitchen work triangle. In basic terms, the kitchen triangle refers to the connection of the three main work areas in your kitchen: the sink, stove and refrigerator. As a general guideline, the distance between these areas should be no less than 4’ and no larger than 9’. In addition, the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be greater than 26’. This will require careful space planning because if the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, the kitchen will feel too cramped and people will be bumping into each other.

Conversely, if the sum of the legs is too large, cooking can become a very tiring task. As well as the recommended distance between the points of the work triangle, another crucial thing to bear in mind is to make sure that the legs of the triangle aren't obstructed by anything. Trash cans, islands and other kitchen necessities in the wrong place can end up making cooking a hassle.


When it comes to kitchen islands, we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen. It can also serve as additional seating in the room. The size and location of the island can really affect the efficiency of the kitchen if done incorrectly. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations can create blockages.

How can you tell if an island will work in your kitchen? At minimum, you want to leave 36” of floor space on the ends of the island and 42” of space between the working sides of the island. If there are multiple cooks in the kitchen, a minimum 48” work aisle is recommended.


The availability of appliance options in size, style, configuration and features keeps growing. Where should you begin? Simplify the process by narrowing your focus to what will best fit your kitchen, your cooking habits and your aesthetics. Are you ready to start shopping? Before you begin, here are a few dimensions you need to know.

Industry standards on appliance sizes (widths) usually include reserving at least 30″ for a refrigerator, 30″ for a range and/or cooktop, 24″ for dishwashers, and 30″ for wall ovens. Many cooktops and ranges can add a 5th and 6th burner, increasing their size to 42″ and 48″ respectively. Refrigerators come in all sizes all the way up to 48″ and over. Appliances don’t always meet standard sizing, so decide on the appliances you want in your kitchen before you begin planning your cabinetry. This ensures that you know the exact height, width and depth your openings should be.


In kitchens, more than in any other room, a good space plan and flow are critical. Whether your kitchen needs a minor upgrade or a complete gut job, seeking help from a certified kitchen designer can be well worth the investment. Their expertise can save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

Are you planning a kitchen remodel? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet me @whalenkristin! 

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