The Basics of Kitchen Design

By Vanessa Davies

When designing your new home, the kitchen can be the most important room on the floor plan.  We use our kitchens from morning until night and sometimes in between. A large percent of an interior finishing budget will go into the kitchen so it is important that the layout is functional and the room takes advantage of views of the interior and exterior spaces.

The open floor plans of many homes today have resulted in kitchens becoming entertaining areas, eating areas and working/studying areas. To be functional, the kitchen must flow smoothly for its user(s). The ‘working triangle’ can be used as a starting point in design. The working triangle is an imaginary line drawn from the centre of the sink to the centre of the cooktop to the centre of the refrigerator and then back to the centre of the sink. Ensure that:

  • each leg of the triangle range between 4’-0”-9’-0” and the total sum of the legs not exceed 26’-0”
  • no major traffic patterns cross through this imaginary triangle
  • none of the legs of the triangle cut through an island or counter by more than 12”

The main goal of the working triangle is efficiency. When more than one person is using the space and it is a larger kitchen, you can consider two complimentary work triangles so multiple cooks can work together.

The most common kitchen floor plans are U-shaped, L-Shaped and Galley kitchens and some can incorporate islands. Within these layouts there are 3 mandatory zones for working in a kitchen – a prep area, a cooking area and a clean-up area. Other zones that can be found in larger kitchens are baking, beverage and communication/charging centres. Design your kitchen for what works best for your family and note that these other zones can also be designed to fit into a simple drawer or cabinet adjacent to the kitchen.

When designing the floor plan for your kitchen some of the basic guidelines are:

  • Keep a minimum walkway of 36”
  • Eliminate door interference from appliance to wall and appliance to appliance
  • No major traffic patterns through the working space
  • Leave 24” on both sides of the sink for clean-up and prep
  • Place the dishwasher close to sink with easy access to drawers and cupboards
  • Include one garbage can close to the sink
  • Provide adequate counter space on both sides of the cooktop with utensils close by
  • Ensure adequate counter space (or island) is within reach of at least one side of the refrigerator

The choices out there today are overwhelming for some!  So remember all the items that go into a kitchen floor plan:

Appliances – refrigerators ranging from widths of 30”-60” with or without freezers will be ideal for this along with, cooktops, wall ovens, fan hoods, prep sinks, microwaves and washing sinks of various types and sizes

Countertops/Flooring – choices can include, quartz, granite, concrete, stone, ceramic, wood and  gone are the days of regular old laminate….laminates today have mimicked types of granites and stone very well to give you a great look.

Other considerations – storage, lighting, fixtures, natural light and access to the exterior for BBQ….so much to think about!

Just like clothing, there are many styles of kitchens out there. Some people like a grand look with lots of detail and some prefer the simple clean look of a modern space. Some like lots of wood and others prefer a pre-finished or painted look. Serious consideration and thought should be given to what your style is as this is where a lot of money will be spent and more than likely not changed for many years to come.

Whether building a custom home or renovating an existing house, involving a home designer in the beginning will prevent you from being overwhelmed with all the choices.  The designer will work with you to create the best kitchen for you.

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