3-Step Guide To Your Dream Kitchen Remodel – Part 2: Designing Your Kitchen Space

“To ensure your kitchen is functional, comfortable, and safe, use these key measurements and recommended clearances.”

In step one of this three-step guide to your dream kitchen, we discussed the importance of clearly defining what it is you want in your new kitchen.

For a refresher, or if you haven’t yet created your wish list … STOP.

Go back and create your wish list now!

If you’ve already created your wish list, you listed all of the pros and cons of your existing kitchen, took what you wanted and left the undesirable behind. You also added a bunch of great new features that you absolutely know you want in your kitchen when all of the work is said and done.

And because you’ve taken the time to write out your dream kitchen wish list, you have already made this next step — designing your kitchen space — much easier and less frustrating.

We’re going to keep the momentum going so you will have a clear idea of how your new kitchen is going to turn out.

Before we get started — two very important factors when designing your kitchen space are:

  • Proper measurements
  • Sufficient clearance

I’m going to give you both concrete measurements and expert guidance on how much clearance you need for you kitchen.

It’s the nuts and bolts kind of stuff that many homeowners — and hired contractors — tend to overlook. But armed with this knowledge, you won’t make that mistake.

All measurements are suggested minimums unless otherwise noted. The following recommendations were adapted from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) guidelines.

Are you ready to get started? Onward march!


Walkways should be 36 inches wide.

Work Aisles

The width of work aisles should be at least 42 inches in a one-cook kitchen and 48 inches in kitchens designed for multiple cooks. A U-shape kitchen should include a clearance of 60 inches between opposite walls.


If a kitchen has one sink, locate it next to or across from the cooking surface or refrigerator. For a primary sink, provide a continuous countertop at least 36 inches wide right next to the sink. For a cleanup and prep sink, provide a 24-inch-wide landing area to one side of the sink and an 18-inch-wide landing area on the other.


Include a 12-inch-wide landing area on one side of the cooktop and a 15-inch-wide landing area on the other. (Landing areas should be at the same height as the cooktop.) Allow 24 inches of clearance above cooktop (30 inches if there is unprotected cabinetry above it.)


The standard countertop height is 36 inches; maximum is 45 inches. Allow 15 inches of space between the countertop and the bottom of upper cabinets. A total of 158 inches of countertop space is needed to accommodate landing area, prep and work areas, and storage

Food Prep Area

Include a 36-inch-wide surface for each cook (adjacent to a water source).


Locate the dishwasher no more than 36 inches from the cleanup and prep sink.


Provide a 15-inch landing area on the handle side of the refrigerator; a 15-inch landing area on both sides of a side-by-side refrigerator: a 15-inch landing area no more than 48 inches across from the front of the refrigerator; or a 15-inch landing area above or adjacent to an undercounted refrigerator.

Microwave Oven

The bottom of the microwave oven should be 3 inches below the principal user’s shoulder but no more than 54 inches above floor. Provide a 15-inch-wide countertop space above, below, or on handle side of the microwave oven.


Provide a 15-inch-wide counter space above or adjacent, or on an island or peninsula no more than 48 inches away.

Bar Counter

The height should be between 28 and 45 inches. Provide a knee space between 12 and 18 inches.

There you have it!

By following these minimum measurement suggestions and recommended clearances you will be well on your way to enjoying the fully functional, comfortable, and safe kitchen you’ve always dreamed of.