Design Matters - Kitchen Aid

The foundation of any good design is careful planning. Nowhere in the house is it more important than in the kitchen. Kitchens are my absolute favourite room to design, not only because they are the heart and soul of a home, but also because designing them well is like putting together an intricate puzzle.

Here are some tips for creating a well-designed kitchen.

Be Needy

Once you've established a budget and style preferences, the next thing to consider are your needs for the kitchen. Functionality is paramount when designing a kitchen. Here are seven questions you should ask yourself to understand your needs.

1. Who cooks in the family? How much and how often do they cook? Do they have a preference for gas or electric ?

2. Are there bakers in the family? How much and how often do they bake? Do they need a convection oven, steam oven or any other special baking equipment?

3. How much storage do they need for food and beverages, both refrigerated and pantry? Do they need a separate fridge for beverages ? Do they have a secondary fridge/freezer elsewhere in the house? Do they need to store wine or other non-refrigerated beverages?

4. What are their non-food storage needs? This question is critical and often not given sufficient thought. Give yourself a walkthrough and make a list. Typical items include pots and pans, cooking utensils, knives and kitchen gadgets, dinnerware, glassware, serving dishes, cutlery, food storage containers, small appliances, baking sheets/cutting boards, dish towels, cleaning products, foils/wraps/storage bags and cookbooks.

5. How much space do you need for garbage and recycling, and compostable reuse? 

6. Do you like to entertain in the kitchen? Do you like to eat in the kitchen? If so how many people do you need to seat?

7. Are there any age height; or special needs to consider?


Here are the top 10 guidelines that I've developed over time that I try to incorporate in every kitchen design, big or small.  

1. The holy trinity in a kitchen is the sink, stove and fridge These three focal points are sometimes referred to as the "work triangle.: However, you don't need to literally create a triangle in planning where these go. The most important factor is the proximity of the stove to the sink: they should be either be adjacent with approximately 24" between them (to allow for landing space), or directly across from each other but no more than 48" apart. Think about carrying a pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink - you don't want to be too far. 

TIP: Avoid placing a sink across from a stove if the area is a major traffic throughway.

The fridge should also be within easy reach of the sink and stove. There are no specific guidelines for how close, but close enough that it's not cumbersome to carry items from one "work centre" to the other. Use your judgement.

TIP: There should be at least 15" of countertop (landing space) adjacent to the fridge. Also, ensure that the door handle of the fridge will not bump into the walls or cabinets

2. There must be at least 24" of countertop frontage on one side of the sink and 18" on the other, to safely handle dishes and food. For secondary sinks, there must be at least 3" of landing space on one side of the sink and 18" on the other.

3. There must be at least 36" of continuous countertop frontage for the primary preperation station (ie: work area) and it should be immediately adjacent to a water source (primary or secondary sink). 

4. The dishwasher should ideally be located immediately adjacent to the sink. There must be at least 21" of standing room between the edge of the dishwasher and any counter, appliances and/or cabinets that are placed at a right angle, to allow for access. Storage cabinets/drawers for dinnerware, glassware and cutlery should be within close proximity to the dishwasher, ideally no more than 48" away, to allow for quick unloading. 

5. No two work "centres" (sinks, stove, refrigerator) or preparation area can be separated from one another by full-height, full depth tower such as an oven cabinet, pantry or refrigerator. 

6. There must be a minimum of 15" landing space ideally immediately adjacent to the oven. If the space is not immediately adjacent, it must be less than 48" away and must not open into a major traffic area.

7. Work aisles - that is, the clearance between counter and appliances or sinks - should be at least 42" for a one-cook kitchen and at least 48" for a two-or-more cooks kitchen.

8. An appliance door, when opened must not bump into another appliance or cabinet door.

9. There must be a minimum of 18" of clearance between the countertop and bottom of upper wall cabinets. There must be at least 24" between a cooking surface and a protected area above, and at least 30" of clearance if the area above is unprotected. 

10. For a kitchen with a seating area, a minimum surface of 24" wide x 12" deep must be planned for each seated diner.