Kitchen Planning Guidelines

Let National Kitchen and Bath Association guidelines help you create a safer and more functional kitchen.
Traffic & Workflow:
Geometric Themed Kitchen Here's a good example of an
efficient work triangle -- the
distance between the primary
cooktop, sink, and refrigerator.

  • Doorways should be at least 32 inches wide and not more than 24 inches deep. When two counters flank a doorway entry, the minimum 32-inch-wide clearance should be allowed from the point of one counter to the closest point of the counter on the opposite side.
  • Walkways (passages between vertical objects greater than 24 inches deep where not more than one is a work counter or appliance) should be 36 inches wide.
  • Work aisles (passages between vertical objects, both of which are work counters or appliances) should be at least 42 inches wide in one-cook kitchens, and at least 48 inches wide in multiple-cook kitchens.
  • The work triangle (the shortest walking distance between the refrigerator, sink, and primary cooking surface) should be no more than 26 feet, with no single leg of the work triangle shorter than 4 feet nor longer than 9 feet. The work triangle should not intersect an island or peninsula by any more than 12 inches.
  • If two or more people cook at the same time, a work triangle should be placed for each cook. One leg of the primary and secondary triangles may be shared, but the two should not cross one another. Appliances may be shared or separate.
  • No major traffic patterns should cross through the work triangle.
  • No entry, appliance, or cabinet doors should interfere with another.
  • In a seating area, 36 inches of clearance should be allowed from the counter or table edge to any wall or obstruction behind it if no traffic will pass behind a seated diner. If there is a walkway behind the seating area, 65 inches of clearance, total, including the walkway, should be allowed between the seating area and any wall or obstruction.

Continued on page 2:  Cabinets & Storage