5 rules of thumb for efficient kitchen layout

shutterstock_238547476So you’re taking the plunge and diving full steam ahead into a major kitchen renovation. Congratulations.

Before you start ripping up the floor and laying the pipes for your new island, make sure you take a deep breath and give some serious thought to the functionality of your upgraded layout. All too often homeowners focus too much on aesthetics and not enough on the workability of their design, and the last thing you want to do is spend $30,000 on a fancy kitchen that’s difficult or impossible to cook in!

We understand that a professional design consultant won’t be in the budget for the average homeowner. That’s why we put this simple checklist together to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered before you start swinging a sledge hammer.

1. Remember the 10-20 rule.

To break down kitchen layout into its simplest form, think back to elementary school geometry. Once you’ve sketched out a scale drawing of your dream layout, grab a ruler and draw a triangle with each corner ending at the fridge, oven and sink respectively.

Now, calculate the length of the combined three sides. If the total is more than ten feet and less than twenty, you’re good to go. If the total lies outside that range you’ve got some re-working to do.

A kitchen triangle less than 10 feet will feel crowded, particularly when you’ve got more than one person working at a time. A kitchen triangle greater than 20 feet will wear you out as the essential components of the cooking process will be too far apart to be efficient.

Don’t forget to check for obstructions in your triangle. Does the triangle cut across a countertop? Do you have to turn the corner to get to the refrigerator? Ideally you’ll want a clear shot between all three elements (stove, sink, fridge) for optimal comfort.

2. Storage space is at a premium.

Even if you’re a minimalist, the rule of thumb when it comes to storage space is this: you can always use more.

It’s impossible to not have some wasted space in your kitchen design. Certain appliances such as food processors and espresso machines will take up more than their fair share of countertop real estate due to their odd shape, but do your best to maximize your storage options during the design phase. It’s very difficult to add in extra storage after the fact.

Always install cabinets above your refrigerator. This is the perfect place to stash those seldom used seasonal items.

3. Be sure to consider all lighting options.

With the plethora of lighting options and technologies available these days, there’s no reason to limit your kitchen illumination to a ceiling light and a burst of window sun via the sink. An efficient kitchen is one that’s easy to work in, and this means adequate lighting at every work station. The stove top, sink, and working countertop spaces all need to feature direct lighting for peak performance.

4. Give that island a second look.

Including an island in your layout could add valuable storage space and a dedicated prep zone. The addition could also backfire and cause a major traffic jam in your kitchen.

Be sure that you’ve got enough space to fit an island comfortably without bottlenecks. As a general rule your kitchen needs to measure 8 x 12 feet at a minimum before you start to consider an island.

5. Ask a pro.

I know, I know…I said this would be a how-to guide for those who don’t want to hire a professional designer. But hey, once you’ve added those finishing touches to the final draft of your blueprint, surely you can find the funds to pay a design consultant to quickly look over your work.

An hour of a pro’s time could wind up being worth its weight in gold should they catch a major design snafu before it’s too late to fix it!

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