How to Position Appliances in Kitchen Design

A kitchen serves many purposes, such as food storage, cooking, and eating.  It is also a place to gather and socialize, do homework, and much more.  An effective kitchen layout must take all the requirements of the household into account, but should always remember that food is the heart and soul of the kitchen. 

When embarking on a kitchen remodeling project, these elements come together in your kitchen layout.  The layout forms the foundation of any kitchen design, and a key part is careful positioning of appliances. The specific appliances required may differ slightly from one home to the next, but in general include a refrigerator, oven, range, microwave, and dishwasher.  Some homes may include two ovens, a secondary beverage refrigerator, an extra dishwasher, or other specialized appliances. 

When planning your layout, consider where these appliances will be placed, their proximity to each other, ease of access to them, and their size.

Consider your requirements and space.

Think about what you need to meet the requirements of your household.  You may love the idea of a massive refrigerator or a large, professional oven, but do you really need it?  How many people are typically in your home?  Do you cook, and if so how frequently?  Do you entertain and host large family gatherings? 

If you are in a busy household and have space, larger appliances, more than one oven, or a second dishwasher make sense.  If you rarely cook and have a small household, these large appliances just take up space.  Choose appliances to fit your requirements based on your home and the people in it. 

Balance the size of appliances to other aspects of your kitchen, like kitchen cabinets, countertop depth, and workspace.  Appliances that are too deep stick out past cabinetry, which looks bad, interrupts traffic flow, and causes accidents.  Likewise, appliances that are too big can overwhelm the room at the expense of valuable workspace.

Plan work areas around these requirements.

No two kitchens are alike as the activities in the kitchen really depend on the unique needs of the people using it.  What do you plan to do in your kitchen?  Will you use it for a few dinners a week and the occasional party?  Or, will your kitchen see a constant flow of traffic with multiple meals per day, homework and activities, and people hanging out and talking?  Plan your kitchen design around work zones that facilitate the activities you expect to accommodate.  Anticipate that some activities take place simultaneously with multiple people using the room.  You will have a food preparation and clean up area, but may also need dining and entertaining areas, a study zone, or a pet area. 

Generally, the sink, main refrigerator, and stove need to be near each other, allowing easy access for food preparation.  Allow minimum 4 and maximum 9 feet between each point to easily maneuver.  The dishwasher is best located near the sink so you have less distance to travel with dirty dishes.  Place secondary appliances like a snack or beverage refrigerator out of the main work area so access will not interfere with cooking and clean up.  If you have a large kitchen, some of these appliances may be positioned in the island or a beverage bar, for example with a second clean up sink and the dishwasher located together.   

Make space for small appliances, either in a purpose-built area, on the countertop, or in specialized storage.  Many homes use an array of small appliances, including a coffee maker, stand mixer, blender, toaster, and slow cooker.  Position appliances used daily within easy reach, and make sure those used less frequently can be accessed when required.

Evaluate the workflow to make it all function smoothly.

The kitchen is not a static space.  It is a hive of activity and must have a well-planned workflow to make sure everyone can move about the room without tripping over each other.   Make sure you can move freely between the refrigerator and food preparation area, from there to the oven and range, and then on to a clean-up area that includes the dishwasher. 

Take the clearance required for opening doors and drawers into account when planning the layout and workflow.  You must be able to easily open the refrigerator door, oven, microwave, dishwasher, and other appliances and still have space to maneuver around them.  Also, consider the direction the refrigerator door swings and make sure the door opens wide enough so internal storage bins can be pulled out all the way.

The layout is the basis of a well-functioning kitchen design. Your appliances are a key part of the kitchen and must be positioned carefully so they fit well and are easily accessible. For more kitchen design ideas, visit our gallery here or contact us to get started with planning your kitchen renovation.