Last year, my son and I bought a 25-year-old, rundown foreclosed house, really
cheap. Part of the remodel (a.k.a., a complete rebuild) was of course
replacing the kitchen. There really wasn't much to replace because the previous
owners had already ripped out the old kitchen. Plus, we had torn out and replaced
all the old walls so the kitchen footprint was completely new as well. So how
to plan the new kitchen? I put down rosin paper onto the floor, snapped chalk
lines to mark the depth of the 24-in. base cabinets and 12-in. lines for the
upper cabinets, and he and I figured out the best layout for the kitchen.
The truth is that even though I'm no
designer, I've planned quite a few kitchens for customers, relatives and
friends with few complaints so far. The fundamentals of kitchen design are
really pretty simple. This is what I've figured out:
• The working triangle: This is the most basic architect's
rule of kitchen design. You should be able to walk—without hiking—between the refrigerator, the sink and the stove.
• You need, at the very least, 4 ft. between rows of
• Make sure everything can open. That means make sure
that dishwasher doors don't run into anything. That drawers can open freely
without dragging into adjoining cabinets. That doors can swing open all the way
without bumping into anything.
Use the pros if you lack
advantage of the home center's design software and the people who know how to
use it. It's amazing. Show up with a really accurate plan of your existing
kitchen footprint, complete with carefully measured dimensions. The staff want to sell you cabinets and they're
happy to help! Spend a half hour or so with them and you'll walk out with
a computer rendering of exactly what your kitchen will look like from any angle
you want to see it from.
design your own kitchen
all, who knows more about how you use your kitchen than you? It's easier than
you might think.
to any home center and ask for a cabinet catalog from any manufacturer and
bring it home with you to plan your kitchen. Inside the catalog, you'll see
drawings of cabinets that show door swings, heights and widths. Those basic
cabinet sizes will be the same among companies, so any catalog will work. The
important part is to get the layout right. Forget about wood types and styles
of doors and drawers while you're planning. You can hash out those details when
you place the actual order.
All cabinet manufacturers build cabinets in increments
of 3-in. widths: 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and so on. And all those companies build
pretty much the same options. The cost depends on things like dovetailed
drawers, the wood used and the quality of the hardware. They'll give you
options for all that stuff. Choose whatever works for your kitchen and how you
use it, then place your order and go from there.
— Travis Larson, Senior Editor
For some great articles on planning a kitchen
and installing cabinets, check out these articles:
10 Tips for a Happy Kitchen Remodel
Installing Kitchen Cabinets
Frameless Kitchen Cabinets
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Fantastic help Travis, If you don't mind I would like to add a few things. You can go down to 40" between cabinets. Yes things will start to get tight, however many kitchens are not wide enough for 48". There are spacer mullions available for some situations. Use a 1" spacer mullion to widen the vertical rail at an inside corner, at the end of a bay of cabinetry where it meets a wall, and in a refrigerator space. A standard refrigerator is 36" and a standard refrigerator cabinet is also 36". This leaves no wiggle room to get the refrigerator in and out.
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