Kitchen design: the basics

In the mid-80’s, Ortho Books published a series of hardback construction books. One titled “Basic Remodeling Techniques,” published by Robert J. Dolezal, did a very good job of identifying basic design concepts that can be applied to most kitchens. Here is an excerpt you may find useful.

“Arrange the various activity centers to provide the most efficient kitchen plan:

  • The food storage center includes the refrigerator/freezer, cabinets, and counter space.
  • The cleanup center includes the sink, counter space on either side, a garbage disposer, a dishwasher, and trash compactor.
  • The cooking center includes a range or cooktop, oven, counter space on either side, ventilating equipment, and cabinets and drawers tor utensils.

The efficient arrangement of these three centers is called a work triangle. At least five good layouts are common:

  • The U-shaped kitchen is generally considered the most desirable. lt offers continuous counter area and the shortest walking distance between appliances.
  • The corridor kitchen is the simplest and often the most economical arrangement. The corridor should be at least tour feet wide to allow traffic to pass.
  • The L-shaped kitchen creates an eating area adjacent to the work triangle and eliminates through traffic.
  • The island kitchen, a modified U-or L-shape, is a good plan tor two people who like to cook together. It you use the island as the cooking center, venting can be a problem.
  • The one-wall kitchen is the least desirable layout, but may be necessary in some situations. It it is. the sink should be in the center ol the work flow. The overall length of the kitchen wall should be no more than 13 feet.

The location of each activity center determines the efficiency of the kitchen. For example, the range should not be located next to the refrigerator. Nor should the range be located directly under a window. Breezes may interfere with gas burners, and curtains can catch lire. The local code may determine the location of the range tor venting and safety, so check on this. The sink is best located under a window tor natural light and a view. The dishwasher should be within 12 inches of the sink but not so its door blocks traffic.

Keep the following dimensions in mind.

  • Recommended distances tor the three sides of the work triangle ‘are: 4 to 7 feet from the sink to the refrigerator, 4 to 6 feet from the sink to the range, and 4 to 9 feet from the range to the refrigerator. This means that no two basic appliances should be less than 4 feet apart.
  • The total perimeter of the work triangle should be 12 to 22 !eel.
  • For efficiency the overall size of the kitchen should be not more than 160 square feet.
  • Allow 15 to 18 inches of counter space on the latch side of the refrigerator tor loading and unloading.
  • Allow 30 to 36 inches of counter space on both sides of the sink.
  • Allow at least 24 inches of counter space on both sides of the range; 30 inches is preferable.
  • Countertops are normally 24 inches deep and 32 to 36 inches high, depending on personal preference and comfort.
  • For specific appliance and cabinet sizes. measure your existing units carefully or take new dimensions from manufacturers· catalogs and data sheets. Be sure to al­low sufficient space for doors to swing open completely.

For more information and ideas about kitchen planning, see Ortho’s book How to Design and Remodel Kitchens.”