14 Kitchen Design Guidelines, Illustrated (#4)

“In the Kitchen- Leave Enough Space to Park It”

Kitchen Traffic and Cabinet Layout

Your new kitchen will be the location where guests congregate not only for dining, but to chat with the chef prior to the meal or to play games long after the food has been cleared. It will be the social center of the house …only if it is a comfortable room to stay and sit in. Traditionally family and guests gather at the kitchen table. Modern kitchens often times feature an island with various seating options. Breakfast nooks are also great additions to optimize tight space constrictions. All of these parking spots should hold some standard dimensions to allow traffic to flow  freely behind the person seated as well as for the person in the chair.

Nobody enjoys being the person who sits down for a meal but constantly has to “suck it in” to the edge of the table each time someone passes behind (usually with hands full of hot dishes and sharp utensils). Keep this detail in mind when filling the space behind the seats with other furniture or obstructions. If you know the sizes of the furniture prior to building then you can easily use the suggested dimensions illustrated in Guideline #8 to allow for an adequate flow of traffic behind the seated diner. If you’re planning on purchasing new furniture for the renovated space then take these measurements with you to the furniture store to ensure that the pieces you pick out will fit once they arrive home.
Kitchen Seating Clearance Requirements
As you can see in the diagrams of Guideline #9 there are various standards for knee space depending on the height of the chair or stool. This can be one important detail that can tend to slip past the attention of everyone during the design phase and  if not accounted for can leave you with seats that are left empty due to their awkward or uncomfortable dimensions. As the height of the chair increases less space is typically needed for knee space. The recommended width however for comfortable seating is given at 48″ for 2 seated diners. Remember that these numbers are recommendations and that for larger individuals or those who have disabilities more space will certainly be needed to dine with ease.

If you are planning a new seating area and have not yet decided on the stools or chairs for the room I’d recommend you go to your furniture store and test drive some seats before you get locked in to a specific bar top or counter height. Who knows, you may find that sitting in a stool to eat is not as comfortable as you thought. If you can identify the seats first, then you will know exactly what the dimensions of  your new built-in seating space should be. This way you can order your cabinets and countertops to your specifications, without worry and avoid costly change orders during the building phase.

Recommended Kitchen Seating Countertop Height
The images and diagrams are courtesy of National Kitchen & Bath Association


Look for our next post when we’ll introduce Design Guideline #5 “It’s Your Prep Area, Make it Work for You”

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