Aisle widths, walkways, seating overhangs, work and landing space, an

buehlJanuary 1, 2013

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Aisles widths...are determined by measuring counter edge-to-counter edge, not cabinet-to-cabinet.

    If there are no counters (e.g., a tall pantry cabinet), then measure to/from the cabinet door...usually 1" past the cabinet box.

For appliances, measure to/from the part that sticks out the furthest (usually the handle...this info is contained in appliance specs).

Counter overhangs...Counters usually have an overhang of 1.5" beyond a cabinet box. So, with standard 24" deep base cabinets, the counter will extend another 1.5" beyond for a total counter depth of 25.5".

This overhang is designed to protect cabinets, doors/drawer fronts, and the inside of drawers/cabinets from spills on the counter. By extending past the cabinet & doors, spills are directed away from the cabinet boxes/doors/drawer fronts/insides. 1" of that 1.5" overhang is to cover the doors & drawer fronts and protects the insides of the drawers & cabinets; the other 1/2" extends past the surfaces of the doors & drawer fronts & protects them from spills. Seating overhang & spacing...

  • Counter-height seating (36" off the floor) - a minimum overhang of 15" of clear knee/leg space (i.e., no obstructions)
  • Bar-height seating (42" off the floor) - a minimum overhang of 12" of clear knee/leg space
  • Table-height seating (30" off the floor) - a minimum overhang of 19" of clear knee/leg space
  • You should have a minimum of 24" of linear space per seat. E.g., a 4' wide island could seat up to 2 people; a 6' wide island could seat up to 3 people, etc.

BTW...if you put decorative doors on the back of island or peninsula cabinets, they will take away approx 1" from the overhang, so add that 1" to the overall depth of the island or peninsula. E.g., if you have an island with seating and all one height at 36":

1.5" counter overhang in front + 24" deep cabinets + 1" decorative end panel or door + 15" seating overhang = 41.5" for the depth of the island....this is a minimum depth. Walkways....In a seating area, 36" of clearance from counter/table edge to wall/obstruction if no traffic passes behind seated diners. 65" of total clearance when this includes a walkway (i.e., traffic). [From the NKBA Kitchen Planning Guidelines With Access Standards] There are three primary work zones...Prep Zone (70% of kitchen work/time), Cooking Zone (10% of kitchen work/time), and Cleanup Zone (20% of kitchen work/time)

Of these, the Prep & Cooking Zones work best when either next to each other or across from each other, but across no more than a 48" aisle.

The Cleanup Zone usually works best if it's separated from the Prep & Cooking Zones. Sometimes that means different parts of the kitchen (usually with a prep sink in the Pep Zone), other times it means the only sink in the kitchen separates them...Prep & Cooking Zones on one side of the sink, Cleanup Zone with DW on the other side of the sink.

[See the FAQ: Kitchen work zones, what are they?) for more...

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