Kitchen Design Guidelines: Why They Matter

As an experienced Kitchen & Bathroom designer, coach, and mentor, every year I see loads of new designers on the scene eager and ready to jump right in and start designing gorgeous, luxury kitchens. This is great – in some ways! I love to see motivated people who are confident and chomping at the bit to make an impact in the K&B world. But there is a downside to starting too fast in kitchen design and it’s pretty simple…

You don’t know what you don’t know!

Just like the old saying goes, you can’t put the cart before the horse. You can’t start designing kitchens without first gaining knowledge of basic kitchen design guidelines. I mean, technically you can, but the outcome won’t be great for your customer or your reputation. 

When you don’t know the standards, guidelines, or questions to ask, that’s when mistakes happen. Especially when you don’t even know that you don’t know! What I mean is, many designers are so new that they don’t even yet know that they don’t know everything they need to know. And, they think they know what they need to know, but they don’t, you know?

Here’s an example of why we need to be up-to-date on Kitchen Design Guidelines.

I see this all the time! A newer designer contacts me for help, coaching, or mentorship. Or, worse a homeowner contacts me because they’ve lost faith in their rather green new kitchen designer. The designer thinks they know the standard but he/she doesn’t actually know how to put it into practice.

For instance, kitchen design guidelines tell us to allow a minimum of 36” clearance from the table edge to the adjacent wall or obstruction for a person seated at the table to allow someone to squeeze past. However, if you are designing with building code in mind then you need to provide a full 60″ from the table edge to adjacent obstruction to allow for a wheelchair passing. Many newer designers don’t even realize how much this seating standard applies to kitchen design. Like I said, they don’t even know what they don’t know!

So, I’ll say it again – before you jump into designing your very first or next kitchen, it’s important to know and understand the basic kitchen design guidelines and principles.

Here are 10 basic kitchen design guidelines that you absolutely must know before you design your very first kitchen: 

  • The standard measurements for door entryways
  • What interference is and how to avoid it
  • Standard triangle workspace distances
  • Workstation and traffic flow requirements
  • Countertop, seating, and landing area distances and radiuses
  • Appliance placement guidelines
  • Proper cooking surface placement, clearance, and ventilation
  • How to design for built-in appliances
  • General lighting applications
  • Standard kitchen layouts

More to Consider

Kitchen design guidelines aren’t just for brand new designers. Maybe you’ve taken a break from designing for a bit or you’re making a transition into kitchen design. Maybe you’ve been at it for years and you just want to revisit the basics to make sure you are still up-to-date. There is no shame in this! It is always better to be sure! As they say, measure twice, cut once. 

None of this is meant as shade towards new kitchen designers. Of course, I love the idea of going out there and crushing your goals, just make sure your first goal is to learn your kitchen design guidelines. Once you have that under your belt, get out there and slay!

So, take my advice and learn your kitchen design guidelines before you find yourself in a situation that could negatively impact your future in the K&B design business. 

Lucky for you, this month’s focus in The Kitchen & Bath Design Academy Membership is Kitchen Design Guidelines. For all you need to know about Kitchen Design Guidelines head right here. You can join my Kitchen & Bath Design membership or purchase the stand alone Kitchen Design Guidelines course.  

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