Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas and Tips

A kitchen with an island in the middle of a room

Careful planning is required to ensure a kitchen that’s both beautiful and highly functional. Here are 20 tips to consider when designing your kitchen.

Eliminate wasted steps.

A living room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a table

When organizing a kitchen, think about how and where you typically use items. Store breakfast foods and bowls near the breakfast table. Keep wraps and plastic containers in one handy spot near a work surface for wrapping leftovers. Locate dishware and flatware near the dishwasher to ease the process of unloading.

Design wide walkways.

A chair sitting in front of a building

Ensure your kitchen floor plan includes enough room between cabinetry and the island to easily move through the space. As a general rule, paths throughout a kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Aisles within the cooking zone should be 42 inches wide for a one-cook kitchen and 48 inches wide for a two-cook configuration. When planning, adjust kitchen islands and peninsulas accordingly.

Direct traffic through the kitchen.

Traffic flow is a key consideration when designing a kitchen. For kid-friendly kitchen design, keep the cooktop out of traffic areas so children don’t catch handles and cause spills when passing through. Also, make the refrigerator accessible to both passersby and people working in cooking and cleanup areas.

Stay clear of corners.

Pay attention to corners when deciding where to place cabinetry and appliances. To make cabinet and appliance doors fully functional, plan space for the door’s clearance and swing direction in your kitchen design. Keep appliances away from corners, and make sure doors won’t bang into each other if open at the same time.

Find the right height for the microwave.

The correct height and location for a microwave oven will vary depending on the chef or the kid-friendly nature of the kitchen. For adults, 15 inches above the countertop level is a good microwave height. If kids will be using the appliance, a below-countertop setup might be safer and more suitable.

Determine the island’s function.

When it comes to kitchen islands, form follows function. Think about how you’d like to use the island within the space before you consider the design. If you want to cook and eat on the kitchen island, for example, plan enough space so the cooktop is safely separated from the dining area. The island can also house other elements such as a sink or dishwasher for added functionality.

Plan landing space near appliances.

Landing space around appliances provides a spot to place items while cooking or preparing ingredients. When designing your kitchen, allow 15 inches of countertop on each side of a cooktop and refrigerator. Landing space is also important near the microwave and other small appliances, such as a coffee pot or toaster.

Consider the countertops.

Think through your needs for meal preparation to help guide your countertop choices. Chefs who like to cook require more counter space (ideally between the range and sink) than those who cook infrequently or who prepare simple meals. Additionally, incorporating two countertop heights can make baking easier and help kids who are involved in meal preparations.

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