While the design of a kitchen is often left until the end of an interior design process, kitchen is not a mere extra space. Rather, it is deeply and directly related to the matter of survival as well as wellbeing, for eating well is a critical, if not inevitable, part of life.
A decently designed kitchen can make cooking much more enjoyable. Along with the client’s demand, designers should also focus on maximizing efficiency and facilitating workflow. Hence, it is important to first clarify how the kitchen will be used. In this article, we will introduce you to the fundamentals of designing and building a kitchen.
Division of Workspaces
There are five main areas in a kitchen:
- Storage area: food storage space, refrigerator, cupboards
- Instrument area: utensils, appliances, dishes
- Sink area: washing and cleaning area
- Preparation area: a large, flat surface
- Cooking area: oven and stove
Storage, sink, preparation and cooking areas go together to create a cooking process. At the same time, sink, preparation, and cooking areas form a triangular workspace. Various combinations of these three produce different arrangements of kitchens.
Arrangement of Workspaces
Three most common types of kitchens include:
- Linear (“Galley”)
In order to facilitate the cooking process, the triangle formed by the three areas – sink, preparation, and cooking – should be easily approachable from one area to another. In other words, it is to make sure that there is no crossing movement when there are two or more people working. It is helpful to question oneself “What do I like the most/least about my kitchen?” or “How would I like to change/use my kitchen?” This way, it will be easier for you to produce a more practical and convenient design.
When measuring the width of a module, you should take the distance between one outer edge and the other outer edge. The widths can vary depending on the purpose and the design, but they usually are 30cm, 45cm, 60cm, 75cm, and 90cm.
Generally, for cooktops, ovens, and exhausts, the modules are either 60cm or 90cm. For instance, the width of an oven is a bit shorter than 60cm so the appliance neatly fits into the gap. Modules of sinks range from 30cm to 90cm. There should be a room of a few centimeters between the appliance and the module.
The hinges may change the width of modules. While conventional drawer slides are from 40cm to 60cm, more advanced ones allow up to 120cm. Accessories such as dish racks (40cm – 85cm), organizers (40cm – 60cm) and spice racks (15cm – 20cm) also can modify the width.
The standard depth of base modules is 60cm, reserving 58cm for the width and taking a 2cm gap for the door. It is important to have the countertop larger than the module because this way when a liquid is spilled onto the countertop, it does not wet the wood but stays on the top.
35cm is an ideal for the bottom because there needs to be a little gap between a 30cm-deep microwave and space.
The recommended depth for towers is 60cm. When you are planning to put an oven in the tower, you should remember that an oven needs an extra room of 10cm connected to the ceiling to release the heat through the space at the back.
The height of base modules, which is the distance between the floor and the countertop, is usually 90cm. In order to avoid moisture, the modules should never touch the floor, and a gap of 10cm or 15cm is desirable. There are adjustable legs in the market to create this extra space. They can be covered with a baseboard, and the baseboard should be separated from the doors with a gap of 7.5cm minimum. If you leave the legs in full sight, dust will easily accumulate, so this option is not desirable.
Upper modules are at 140cm or 150cm above the floor. Yet, base module depth should be taken into regard as well. The lower the position of the base module, the higher the upper module should be placed. This is to make sure that the upper module does not disturb the cooking process.
There should always be a 5cm gap from the wall because constructions often end up differently from the plans. The extra space leaves a possibility for adjustment. If there is one case where you are forced to use a fitting piece, that is L-shaped kitchens. In such situation, leave a 20cm gap from the wall for adjustment, and cover the empty space with the countertop.
Shelvings & Doors
Prism TFL (Thermally Fused Laminate) is the most common material for making kitchen cabinets, doors, and shelves. It is efficient because it’s estimated to last around 15 years. A recommended thickness for a cabinet design is 15mm while that for a door structure is 18mm. In order to use a kitchen for a longer period of time, create a design where you can simply change the door but not the structure. This way, you can refresh the mood of the kitchen without much effort or resources.
The most common countertop materials are:
- Laminate: cover the bare counter with a layer of firm laminate
- Stone: granite, quartz, and marble are the most widely used
The most important thing about baseboards is that they should be resistant to moisture. Hence, plywood covered with laminate is a good option, or you can also add metal and plastic parts.
Trend & Tips
- Thin countertops: Staron is a popular material for its thickness ranges from 0.8cm to 1.5cm
- Inset handles: one option is to locate the handles at the edge of the door, while the other is using an automatic system that opens when pressed
- Lighting: the use of LED lights inside cabinets
- Distancing countertop from the cabinet: leave a large enough space that is 30cm or more to make it easy to clean
- Space above appliances: when placing doors above appliances, there should be enough room for your hand
archiparti provides a variety of interior design projects for independent designers, and the kitchen is often a part of the projects. Either you are renovating a restaurant or a flat, these tips will help you to create a sensible, stunning, and sound design. If you are interested in these kinds of projects or any other interior design projects, make sure to check out our website! If you want to discover more tips, subscribe to archiparti and get an email when there’s a new post!
Dana, archiparti blog contributor