Kitchen Remodel Design Considerations To Keep In Mind

Here are eight considerations to keep in mind:


The kitchen should reflect the way your clients live. Some opt for casual entertaining. They enjoy an open kitchen with plenty of counter space for other helpers, a living, sit-down area, a dining table or a snack bar. Others want a more private kitchen away from the center of things, where they can work alone and more efficiently. Some enjoy the kitchen as a showcase for collections and hobbies.


Does the kitchen have the ambience, the mood desired? Beyond the efficiency and size, there are decided looks to kitchens: those that might be characterized by the terms High-Tech, Country CAsual, Sleek and Smooth, Bright and Crisp, Warm and Rich. These distinguishing characteristics are created by the components and colors selected for walls, ceiling, floors, counters and accessories.


Is the kitchen a real step-saver? Kitchen experts have consistently espoused that the three primary work centers should be arranged to form the points of a work triangle, with no less than 12 feet and no more than 22 feet around the three sides–4 to 7 feet between sink and refrigerator, 4 to 6 feet between sink and range, and 4 to 9 feet between range and refrigerator.

Cabinetry and Storage.

Is there enough storage space at point of use? To save steps, ingredients and cooking utensils must be stored within easy reach. The amount of cabinetry and storage space needed in any area depends on how much food preparation takes place there. For an average kitchen there should be 6 to 8 square feet of shelf space for each person in the family, with an additional 12 square feet for entertaining if that is a major factor. As for the number of cabinets, the minimum for an average kitchen should be 10 linear feet each of base and wall cabinets.

Work Counters.

Based upon the work triangle theory, there should be at least 18 inches of counter space by the sink, and 24 inches on both sides of the range, If two work centers are combined there should be an additional 12 to 18 inches.

Mechanical Components.

Are wiring, plumbing, ventilation and functional lighting adequate? Adequate wiring is a must for the safe and efficient operation of appliances. Good plumbing is important for the proper operation of the water supply, drainage, dishwasher, disposer and laundry equipment. Gas, of course, is essential for gas appliances, efficient lighting for good sight, and proper ventilation for grease, smoke and odor removal.

Major Appliances.

Appliances are the heart of a kitchen. Features that fill a real need will spell the difference between a functional kitchen and an efficient one. For a working household, a microwave oven will be a boon. If your clients do a lot of entertaining, a dishwasher (or two) and a large refrigerator and freezer are musts. Think also of special features that mean individual convenience for your clients–self-cleaning ovens, no-frost refrigeration, ice-cube and chilled water dispensers, booster units for raising water temperature in the dishwasher, etc.

Portable or Small Appliances.

Do they fill a real need for the homeowner, or do they use up precious counter and storage space? Space-saving multi-purpose concepts have come into full play with small appliances as space has decreased. Many portable appliances have a variety of attachments for different tasks: two examples are a mixer and food grinder with a juicer attachment, and a can opener with a knife sharpener. Others include thermostatically controlled skillets, tabletop oven/broilers, convection ovens, coffee makers, built-in portable systems and many more. Consider planned storage for these portable helpers, such as appliance garages and tambour doors supplied by the various cabinet manufacturers.

The most common kitchen design problems are three: insufficient counter space, inadequate storage and poor lighting. But with the sound application of good planning principles these problems can be easily overcome. Research developed over the past 30 years by professors at Cornell University, the University of Illinois and technicians and the United States Department of Agriculture has provided us with five very sound principles of good kitchen design:

The most functional kitchens are planned around work centes, each featuring a major appliance and the function it serves: the range or cooking center; the refrigerator or mxing/food preparation center; and the dishwasher/sink or clean-up center, each surrounded by adequate counter and storage space.

  • The storage of equipment and supplies where they are used first–and most often.
  • Recognition of the architectual limitation, if any, of the room.
  • Consideration of the physical limitations of the people involved.
  • Form following function.

For some time now we’ve looked for a new principle of planning what would utilize manufactured cabinets to better advantage and automatically produce a more functional kitchen design. No matter now hard we look, we keep coming back to the concept developed at the University of Illinois that offers a sound approach to the kitchen triangle. It is an interesting slant in design that begins with planning in terms of five types of work centers (as comapred to the usual three mentioned above) and the amount of counter space needed for each activity.

By planning a kitchen on this minimum counter theory we still retain the basic triangle, but in a more logical and meaningful framework. Here are the minimum recommendations:

1. Refrigerator–allow 1-1/2 feet of counter space on the latch side; 2. Mixing–a 3-1/2 foot counter next to the range, refrigerator, or sink; 3. sink–3 feet on the rght, 2-1/2 feet on the left (for dishwashing, food preparation involving water); 4. Range–2 feet of heat proof surface; 5. Serving–2 feet or moe, next to the range or refrigerator. If centers are combined, the shared counter surface should be equal to the widest counter in the combined group, plus an additional foot. For a practical kitchen, there should be a total of at least ten feet of counters.

Why so much emphasis on counters? Because they provide the necessary elbow room to work efficiently. Shown at right are before and after plans of a kitchen design that graphically illustrates this theory:

Before: Arrangement was a weakness here. Spacious kitchen had plenty of counters and storasge, but also too many unnecessary walls and doors.

After: The counter-planning theory brings basic triangle into play automatically. Note how sensible range-serving and sink-refrigerator centers are combined.