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8 Design Guidelines for a Functional and Safe Kitchen

HDB’s latest move to adopt open kitchens, starting with this month’s Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise is long overdue, since an open kitchen….

1) helps to make the apartment looks bigger and more spacious;
2) allows flexibility in how homeowners can design and maximize the space and;
3) allows a kitchen island to be erected, which can double up as a dining table!

Design by Idees Interior Design

However, aside from focusing on the aesthetics,  you should also ensure that the kitchen design is functional and practical. In fact, in 1944, the University of Illinois has developed 31 Fundamental Kitchen Design Principles after performing a series of intensive studies.

Design by Versaform

What this means to you?
A kitchen that adopts these rules would be functional, safe and egocentric.

As renovating kitchen is a major endeavor, you should spend time preparing and planning before embarking on the remodel. Nevertheless, since the list of 31 design principles is very long, here are the top 8 picks which you should take note of when you are embarking on your kitchen renovation project.

Guideline #1: Interference to the Yard Door 

Depending on the door type, there should be sufficient floor space for maneuvering. Ensure that the kitchen yard door does not obstruct with the safe operation of appliances and one another.

Additional Tips:
Ensure that the drawers of the two adjacent cabinets do not obstruct each other when fully opened.


Guideline #2: Comfortable Width for the Work Aisle

For one cook, leave at least 42” for the work aisle and at least 48” for multiple cooks. Take the measurements between the counter frontage, tall cabinets and/or appliances.

Additional Tips:
Walkway vs. Work Aisle
A work aisle is defined as the area the person stands while working in the kitchen while the walkway is the passageway through the kitchen.


Guideline #3: Adequate width for Traffic Clearance at Seating & Seating Space

Where there would not be any traffic passes behind ONE seated person, set aside 32” of clearance from the counter/table edge to any wall or obstruction behind the seated person.  If there are traffic passes behind the seated person, allow at least 36” for the traffic to slide past and at least 44” to walk past.

 As for the seated space, there should be a minimum of 24″ wide for each person (28-30″ width space is better if the person is bigger in size).
For 30″ high tables; leave a minimum of 18″ deep clear knee space.
For 36″ high counters; leave a minimum of 15″ deep clear knee space.
For 42″ high counters; leave a minimum of 12″deep clear knee space.


Guideline #4: Adequate area & safety for Cooking

Set aside a minimum of 12” of landing area on one side of a cooking surface, 15” on the other side, and a minimum of 9” behind the cooking surface for safety reasons. Aside from ensuring adequate working space on both sides of the cooking hob, the space is to ensure that there is adequate clearance between the cooking appliance and any combustible materials for safety.

Ensure that there is at least 24” of clearance between the cooking hob and the cooking hood above it.

Additional Tips:
The minimum clearance specified by the cooking hood’s installation instructions should be adhered to if the manufacturer’s recommend minimum clearance is greater than 24”.


Guideline #5: Microwave Oven Placement & Landing Area

The recommended location of the microwave oven will be affected by the homeowner’s height. The recommended location for the bottom of the microwave is 3” below the principal homeowner’s shoulder.

Set aside at least a 15” of landing area above, below, or adjacent to the handle side of a microwave oven.


Guideline #6: Oven Landing Area

Set aside at least a 15” landing area next to or above the oven. At least a 15” landing area (but not more than 48” across from the oven) is acceptable if the appliance does not open into a walkway.


Guideline #7: Countertop Space

The total number of countertop frontage, 24” deep, should be at least 158”, with at least 15” of clearance above, to accommodate all usages, including landing area, preparation, work area and storage.

Additional Tips:
Add on additional countertop frontage with the help of kitchen island.


Guideline #8: Task Lighting

Appropriate task lighting should illuminate the work surface. The best lighting for kitchen countertops fulfills 2 criteria: adequate illuminance level (the amount of light falling on the countertop) and uniformity (evenness of the lighting).

Recommended kitchen countertop task lighting effect should be soft, even and uniform lighting over every inch of the countertop (with little or no hard shadows and glare). Therefore, inexpensive solutions include fluorescent lamps  or LED strips.

All images from Star craft custom builders


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