Kitchen Design Guidelines

Remodeling a kitchen can be an exciting and rewarding undertaking.  There are a few basic principles that need to be kept in mind to avoid costly mistakes and to ensure a well designed and user friendly work place.

Door Interference

No entry door should interfere with the operation of the kitchen appliances, nor doors of the appliances should interfere with each other.

Work Triangle

Major appliances and their surrounding areas form “work centers”. Work centers in most kitchens form a Work Triangle. The total traveled distance between the work centers should not exceed 26′ with each leg of the triangle being between 4′ to 9′.

Work Triangle Traffic

Ideally no major traffic corridor should cross the work triangle. Many kitchens built in the 70’s do not conform to this rule, however when possible, locate the range, cook top or sink out of the major traffic path.

Separate Work Centers

Make sure that the counter top isn’t broken up by a full height, full depth pantry or other obstacle (refrigerator, full height oven cabinet)  between primary work  centers.

Work Aisle

The width a work aisle – distance between edge of counter tops or tall cabinets and appliances – should be at least 42″.


Walkways are not to be confused with work aisles. Work aisles are spaces between appliances and cabinetry where people stand when working in the kitchen. Walkways are areas where traffic simply passes through the kitchen. Walkways should be at least 36″ wide.

Traffic Clearance and Seating

In a seating area where there is no traffic behind a seated person, allow 32” distance between the edge of the table and any wall or other obstruction. In most cases the seating area is for more than just one person, so there will be traffic behind the seated person. In that case a clearance of at least 36″ should be allowed.

Seating Space

Seating for each person should be at least 24″ wide.

  • For 30″ high tables allow at least 18″ deep knee space.
  • For 36″ high counters, allow at least 15″ deep knee space.
  • For 42″ high counters, allow at least 12″ deep knee space.