Rules of Kitchen Design


A homeowner who follows the rules of kitchen design will end up with a very functional and safe kitchen. A kitchen designed according to rules regarding appliance placement, countertop spacing and lighting will allow the cook to move freely between workstations, keep all necessities within easy reach and perform tasks efficiently.

The Triangle

  • One traditional rule of kitchen design places the stove, sink and refrigerator in a triangular formation to reduce unneeded movement and keep the most commonly used spaces within easy reach. The sides of the imaginary triangle do not have to be the same length, but keep them between four and nine feet long for maximum efficiency. The stove, sink and refrigerator may all be on different walls, or the stove may be on one wall while the sink and the refrigerator share a wall, often with the dishwasher in between.

    The triangle works best in kitchens that usually have only one cook present, since the paths between the triangle's "points" have to be clear for the cook to move around.

Multiple Types of Lighting

  • A functional kitchen needs four types of lighting: decorative, task, ambient and accent. A single overhead light source will cast harsh shadows in the kitchen and make detailed tasks difficult.

Spacing Rules

  • The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recommends that you leave at least 24 inches of counter space on one side of the kitchen sink, and at least 18 inches on the other side. The organization also recommends that the edge of a dishwasher should be within 36 inches of the edge of the kitchen sink to that dishes are easily loaded. Store items that you use every day, such as drinking glasses and plates, in a cabinet above the dishwasher for easy unloading.

Work Area Placement

  • Place the food preparation area between the stove and the sink. You can rinse foods in the sink, transfer them to the preparation area and then straight to the stove.

Refrigerator Placement

  • Place the refrigerator within reach of the countertop so you can transfer foods in and out with ease. Be sure that the surrounding cabinetry does not restrict the refrigerator door's range.

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