Many elements combine within a kitchen to—hopefully—create a functional, organised, safe, and beautiful space. It can be challenging to fit all the pertinent needs and wants into a relatively small area without feeling cramped. If at all possible, try to avoid these four common kitchen planning mistakes.
Not Creating Traffic Zones
Kitchens have a lot of moving parts thanks to all their doors and drawers. Now add in a person working in the kitchen, maybe a pet lounging on the floor, and a second person trying to get into a cupboard behind the chef. Have you allowed enough space for people to move without tripping over each other?
At an absolute minimum, you want to have 36″ of aisle clearance. That could be between the main counter and the kitchen island. Or between a hallway wall and a counter. If a table is directly across from the counter, you’ll want more than 36″ so that chairs can move in and out without blocking counter access.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends leaving “a minimum of 21 inches of standing space between the edge of the dishwasher and another appliance, cabinets, or anything else that might get in the way of the person using it.” Consider the same dimensions for the range or oven.
Many people love the more is more philosophy. But more is not better if it leads to clutter and poorly functioning workspaces. You should be able to see your countertop–or at least a good portion of it.
Do you really need two wall ovens, a warming drawer, a microwave, and a chef’s cooktop? Prioritize your needs over your wants. If you have money left over in your budget, you’re better to invest in great storage and decluttering options such as drawers, pull-outs, and recycling centres than on gadgets that are rarely used and take up space while collecting dust.
Ignoring Landing Zones
Your counters have a purpose that goes beyond a collection zone or storage space for extra stuff. They’re a safe, sturdy place to set food that’s coming in or out of the fridge or oven, as well as dishes coming in or out of the sink or dishwasher. Having to walk across your kitchen with hot pots increases the risk of spills, burns, and injuries.
The NKBA recommends at least 15 inches of landing area next to or above the oven, or—if the appliance does not open into a walkway—15 inches of landing area that is not more than 4 feet across from the oven.
Next to the handle side of the refrigerator should be a minimum 15 inches of landing area, or the same amount of nearby counter space on either side of a side-by-side refrigerator. A section of continuous countertop at least 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep beside the sink should be available to serve as a food prep area.
If you’re placing ovens, microwaves, or even coffee systems into built-in cabinetry with no nearby counter space, considering adding in pull-out landing zones to your design. Just remember that if your doors open down (instead of to one side), you’ll want to offset the landing zone into the next cabinet so that it’s accessible when needed.
Poor Microwave Placement
This may not be a popular one, but placing a microwave above an oven or range is less than ideal for most people. The official NKBA states that “the bottom of the microwave is 3 inches below the shoulder of the family’s main cook—but no more than 54 inches above the floor.” Additionally, microwave controls should be no higher than 46 to 48 inches.
Instead, if a microwave is deemed essential, build it into your cabinetry. Or make room for it in the pantry, making sure it has enough air circulation.