One of the best things about planning a kitchen renovation is dreaming about how you want your new kitchen to look. Perhaps you've been spending your time visiting friends' recently redone kitchens, flipping through decorating magazines, or browsing online photos.

Planning a great renovation requires more than just getting a feel for what looks good, however. In addition to being beautiful, the space must also be functional. The following kitchen design principles can help.

Plan with Your Cooking Style in Mind

One of the first principles that you need to remember for a remodel is that your kitchen should match your cooking style.

  • If cooking is your family's passion, you should create a space where there's ample room for everyone to participate.
  • If you're a busy family, you may need a practical design that helps you get in and out of the kitchen quickly.
  • If you rarely cook, it's okay to keep your plans basic, but remember that investing in a nice, functional kitchen benefits your resale value.

Establish the Work Triangle

The sink-stove-refrigerator triangle is one of the most popular modern kitchen design principles. The idea is that these three fixtures should be arranged in a triangular shape so that you can easily move among them.

Some kitchens use an L-shaped configuration to achieve this triangle. Two fixtures are on one side of the "L," and the remaining one is on the other side. Another option is a U-shaped configuration, in which each fixture is on a separate wall. In kitchens with an island, the island may be used as one of the walls.

The distances between the three points of the triangle make a big difference in how well this arrangement works. Put them too close together or too far apart, and you'll end up frustrated.

  • The three legs should add up to a total of at least 12 feet.
  • The total length of the three legs should not be more than 26 feet.
  • Each leg should be at least 4 feet long.
  • No leg should be over 9 feet in length.

If your kitchen is regularly used by more than one cook at a time, strive to create two separate triangles. By giving each person his or her own work area, you can improve your teamwork and reduce chaos and collisions. Just make sure that the two triangles don't overlap. They can, however, share one joint path. 

Give Yourself Plenty of Space to Walk

Every kitchen walkway should be at least 3 feet wide. That's an absolute minimum. In areas where work takes place, expand the width to 3.5 feet. If two or more people will share the work area, then the walkway should be 4 feet wide.

Doorways should have openings of at least 32 inches. Be careful with the placement of doors so that you'll be able to open them without bumping into the cook or blocking important cabinets or appliances.

The same goes for the placement of refrigerators, dishwashers and pantries: Make sure you leave ample clearance for opening their doors.

If your kitchen serves as a thoroughfare, try to direct traffic away from your prep area. For example, set up your work triangle on one side of your island and allow people to pass through on the other side. If you can manage this, you'll reduce both kitchen congestion and the potential for accidents.

Provide Ample Counter Surfaces

Not only do you need to give yourself plenty of floor space, but you also need sufficient counter space. Set a goal of having, at a minimum, 158 square inches of counter space. This can be broken up in several segments throughout the room. An island may in included in this figure.

There are a few key areas in the room where you need to make sure to place sufficient counter space.

  • Next to the refrigerator: It's good to have over 1 foot of counter space next to the handle side of your fridge. If your fridge has two handles, put a counter on each side.
  • On either side of the sink: You need at least 2 feet of counter space next to the sink. Some experts recommend having 2 feet on one side of the sink and 3 feet on the other.
  • Next to the stove: Each side of your range and oven needs at least 1 to 1.5 feet of counter space.

Give Yourself a Pleasant View

It's common practice to place the kitchen sink beneath a window. This arrangement provides natural light for your dishwashing. It also allows you to look outside as you complete this chore.

You don't have to think of this design principle as a hard and fast rule. Some kitchens have no natural light. In others, the number of windows is limited, and there's no practical way to position the sink under one of them. In those cases, it's fine to forgo this design principle.

However, if it works for you to put your sink under a window, you'll probably find that it adds a nice touch to the room. For design inspiration, watch the video below, which features a number of kitchens with windows over the sink:

Include an Island Only If It Works for Your Layout

Islands are popular in modern kitchens, and many of your friends and family may have them. However, they aren't a kitchen must-have. If your space isn't large enough to properly accommodate an island, you shouldn't try to cram one in.

Use the following guidelines to determine whether an island is right for your kitchen:

  • You should be able to dedicate an 11-by-11 space to your island. It's even better if this space can measure 11 feet by 14 feet.
  • Your island should be a minimum of 4 feet in one direction and 2 feet in the other direction. Some islands are as large as 4 feet by 5 feet.
  • It's important to have at least 3.5 feet of clearance around all sides of the island.
  • An island shouldn't interrupt the flow of your work triangle.

Hopefully, these kitchen design principles have given you a good foundation on which to plan your renovation. A kitchen planner can provide further assistance to you help you create the room of your dreams. At NDA Kitchens, our designers are experts when it comes to modern kitchen design principles, and we can help you get started during a free consultation.