Kitchen Planning,
How Much Space Do You Need?

Minimum space requirements in kitchen planning are good guidelines to help you plan your kitchen. By having enough space in the right areas you will greatly increase the functionality of your kitchen layout. As well as making cooking a more enjoyable experience. Why make it more of a chore than it has to be, and if you love to cook why not make it better! 

Taking some of these minimum space requirements into consideration during the kitchen planning process will help make your kitchen a much easier place to work.

Kitchen planning is very important to get right because you are going to live with it for a long time. I recommend laying out your kitchen in the actual space to get a good reference of how the space works for you. 

What I mean by laying out your kitchen space is to take the actual cabinet measurements and cut them out of cardboard. Then place those cut out pieces where you plan on having those cabinets.

    Countertop Space

    • Every kitchen needs a minimum of 10 feet of countertop space. If the kitchen is over 175 square feet the minimum should be 17 linear feet. A good rule of thumb is to have 1 lineal foot of counter to every 10 square feet of floor space.

    • You could also have more than one type of kitchen countertop, there are many to choose from. Check out my pages on kitchen countertop ideas, for more inspiration.

    Walkways or Aisles

    • 42 inches minimum between all permanent structures such as between the countertop and island.

    • 48 inches is recommended if more than one cook are regularly in the kitchen at the same time.

    Prep Area

    • Minimum of 36 inches on both sides of the sink, 42 inches is preferred.

    • Minimum 18 inches of counter space by the refrigerator, on the handle side.

    • It's a good idea, but not necessary, to include a minimum of 24 inches of cabinet storage for cookbooks, canned and dry goods near the prep area.

    Cooking Area

    • Minimum of 24 inches on both sides of the cooktop or range, but 30 inches is recommended.

    • Cabinet storage should be the same as the countertop space in inches for the cabinetry width. A pull down rack from the over-the-range cabinet will utilize that space better.

    • Wall ovens are not used very often, therefore if your kitchen is not very large it's a good idea to put the ovens in a pantry or adjoining area.

    • Microwaves are better when placed at countertop level to make it easier to use. Microwaves over the range do double duty and can save space, but only if no extra room is available on the countertop or if you really want it over the range.

    The Cleaning Area

    • The dishwasher is best placed as close to the sink as possible. Either side is good but if you are right handed it's better to the right and visa versa.

    • You should also consider a drawer dishwasher, it may save you some space.

    • Corner sinks are a good way to get extra space.

    • If your kitchen has a dishwasher a double bowl sink is not necessary. A single bowl sink will allow for bigger pans to be placed into them for easier cleaning.


    • An island as a work area should be a minimum of 3 x 4 feet.

    • An island as a seating area should allow for 24 inches per person.

    • 42 inches all of the way around an island, but 48 inches is recommended.
    • With islands, if the work area in the kitchen is on opposite sides, the island may be more of an interference than a helper. Islands are recommended in kitchens that are 14 feet wide, or larger, with a minimum of 150 square feet of total kitchen floor space.


    • Doorways should be no less than 32 inches, but 36 inches is recommended.

    • If for some reason a swinging door is not practical a pocket door is a very good option.

    • One doorway should be a minimum of 36 inches to allow more room for moving appliances.

To avoid a lot of hassle I recommend using an NKBA certified kitchen planner to help you. The cost is minimal when compared to a lifelong kitchen that doesn't quite meet your expectations. A kitchen planner is there for just that reason, to help you get the best kitchen you can.

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