Blog - Providing Insight into Residential Architecture and Construction

Getting Started: Kitchen Basics

Kitchen NJ Architect A great place to start when arranging your kitchen layout is with proper square footage allocation for each zone (be sure to read our breakdown of the social kitchen zones). After all, as the hub of life for your residence, you need to ensure the space is as comfortable and welcoming as possible – which means that someone can comfortably occupy the space, while another can walk through the space, and another can be working in the space….at the same time.

Most pass through, such as hallways, require about three feet free of any obstructions. But, in a kitchen, three feet (3’) of clearance between elements may not be sufficient. We recommend allotting about four feet (4’) for clearance where someone will need to pass through (think about distance separating counters, or the space needed to comfortably scoot out of a stool). Four feet will give you enough room to easily turn from counter to counter without feeling pinched for space, and four feet will allow someone to comfortable fry the eggs, while someone is unloading the dishwasher. Five feet of space feels very luxurious, and should be the maximum distance you leave between counters. After all,don’t forget those time motion studies – as your clearances increase, you’ll find yourself taking a more steps to put away the dishes or to navigate between the refrigerator and stove. And, adding too much distance between zones will take away square footage that may be put to better use elsewhere in your layout.

Let’s talk about the kitchen island.

If you want people gathering around the island, you’ll want it be six feet (6’) away from your main counter so it feels a little separated, but still reads as part of the kitchen. For a smaller kitchen, a peninsula is often a better choice than an island, and in an extra large kitchen, two islands (think of one for additional meal prep, and the other as a “free” island) may be better than a super-size super-deep island. An island deeper than 44” becomes an annoyance to clean or pass dishes across because of its girth.  With a split level island, 24” deep of preparation space will suffice, with about 20” of an upper counter to fit cocktails, a laptop, a book or a plate.  A split level island is a great way to subtly separate the zones of the kitchen without giving up square footage.

After your clearances are established, the next design opportunity is selecting your kitchen’s material palette.  Think about what components of the kitchen you’re interested in highlighting – perhaps you enjoy the intricate fineries of cabinetry, or maybe you gravitate more toward the industrial feel of a chef’s kitchen, or trendy colors with the sleekest appliances. No matter the aesthetic, you will want your kitchen to feel open and spacious to encourage and uplift the amount of activity it will, and should, support.

Windows are critical to kitchen design.  You will want to orient your space to soak up morning light, and maybe enjoy an evening sunset vista. If you are tight on square footage, continuing the flooring from the neighboring room gives the impression of the kitchen bleeding into the next space. And, a lighter palette of finishes – such as bleached wood or light laminates – will create a spacious atmosphere.

Above all, your kitchen should be a reflection of you and your family. So, go ahead and add that upholstered chair, or incorporate a second counter for a homework desk, make room for a second freezer underneath your counter, integrate radiant floor heating, paint an entire wall in blackboard paint, or incorporate an elevated fireplace for pizzazz - whatever accessory will make your kitchen work more efficiently and be more comfortable for your family is always the right option.

Please feel free to add thoughts in the comment section below!