Basic Rules for a Practical and Safe Kitchen Renovation

When it comes to renovating your kitchen, there are some essential rules to follow to ensure it looks good, works well, and is safe. In this guide, we'll walk you through these important rules, covering everything from the placement of your cooktop to the layout of your kitchen.

1. Cooktop Clearances:

Space Between Cooktop And Window

- For electric cooktops, maintain a minimum safe distance of 400 mm (16 inches) from a window.

- Gas cooktops should have a minimum safe distance of 500 mm (20 inches), although it's advisable to check with local government guidelines in your area.

2. Oven Benchtop Set Down Space:

- Ensure a minimum 400 mm (16 inches) set down space beside an oven.

- If this is not possible, a benchtop within 1200 mm (47 inches) of the oven is acceptable, with the exception of crossing a major walkway.

3. Microwave Height:

- The base of the microwave should be positioned between 900 mm (36 inches) and 1250 mm (49 inches) above the floor.

Kitchen Island Guidelines:

Before focusing on aesthetics, it's essential to consider practical details for your kitchen island. Here are some guidelines to ensure it adds functionality and efficiency:

1. Walkways Around Island: Maintain walkways around the island that are at least 36 inches wide for ease of movement.

2. Integration with Work Triangle: Islands should not disrupt the work triangle (sink, range, refrigerator) but can be incorporated into it.

3. Work Aisle Width: Ensure work aisles are at least 42 inches wide for one cook and 48 inches wide for two or more.

4. Seating Area: When using the island for seating, allocate a comfortable 28- to 30-inch-wide space per diner.


1. Designers recommend at least 158 total inches of usable countertop, including islands, with a depth of at least 24 inches and a clearance of at least 15 inches above.

2. Next to a sink, include a 24-inch-wide span of countertop for prep work.

Sink and Dishwasher:

1. Flank any sink with landing areas of at least 24 inches on one side and at least 18 inches on the other.

2. Leave at least 21 inches of space between the dishwasher and any adjacent appliances, cabinets, or other obstacles.

Kitchen Design and Layout:

1. Doorways into the kitchen should be a minimum of 32 inches wide, with swinging doors that don't interfere with appliances, cabinets, or other doors. In smaller kitchens, consider outward-swinging doors to avoid clearance issues.

2. Passageways through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide (or larger for open floor plans). In work areas, walkways should be at least 42 inches wide for one cook and 48 inches for multiple cooks.

3. The work triangle concept enhances kitchen functionality by minimizing walking distance between the sink, refrigerator, and primary cooking surface. For comfort and safety, ensure the sum of the three distances is no more than 26 feet, with each stretch of the triangle measuring between 4 and 9 feet, even in small kitchen floor plans.

By following these essential kitchen renovation rules, you'll create a kitchen space that not only looks great but also functions efficiently and safely, making it the heart of your home for years to come.

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