Cabinets of the Desert wants its cabinetry clients to be aware of long established kitchen design standards and how they may be flexibly applied to reflect and enhance the contemporary use of a modern kitchen. These standards have an impact on the selection and design of your kitchen cabinetry.
In 1944 the University of Illinois conducted a number of studies of kitchen design and developed design principles that are still in use today. They remain the gold standard, although Universal Design and design for Aging in Place go beyond the Illinois guidelines.
Since the Illinois Rules came into being, lifestyles have changed. There is now likely to be more than one person active in food preparation. Also the kitchen has become even more of a gathering place. This has made the kitchen island, which can provide additional work triangles and a seating area, a popular feature in a kitchen remodel project.
The Illinois principles speak more to functionality than aesthetics. So let’s address some preliminary points. We also refer the reader to our Kitchen Checklist.
Kitchens should be practical. They usually get more use than any other room in the house. So they should be as immune as possible to wear, tear and staining and as easy to clean and maintain as possible.
Basic aesthetics require that the range, oven or cook top is not visible from the front entrance; nor should they share the same wall back to back with a toilet. However they should be in a central/focal location in the kitchen.
The kitchen is generally the focal point of the modern home and usually the first room to be remodeled. The aesthetics of your new kitchen are important but, more so than in any other room in the house, it is in the kitchen where form most follows function.
The Illinois Kitchen Rules
Rule 1 – Kitchen Entry Doors
Guideline: The clear opening of a doorway should be at least 32″ wide. This requires a minimum 34″ door.
Rule 2 – Kitchen Door Interference
Guideline: No entry door should interfere with the safe operation of appliances, nor should appliance doors interfere with one another.
Rule 3 – Distance between Work Centers (Kitchen Triangle)
Guideline: In a kitchen with three work centers the sum of the three traveled distances should total no more than 26′ with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4 feet nor more than 9 feet.
- A major appliance and its surrounding landing/work area form a work center. The distances between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, clean-up/prep primary sink, and refrigeration storage) form a work triangle.
- When the kitchen plan includes more than three primary appliance/work centers, each additional travel distance to another appliance/work center should measure not less than 4′ nor more than 9′.
Rule 4 – Separating Work Centers
Guideline: A full-height, full-depth, tall obstacle should not separate two primary work centers. A properly recessed tall corner unit will not interrupt the work flow and is acceptable. (Examples of a full-height obstacle are a tall oven cabinet, tall pantry cabinet or refrigerator)
- Each leg is measured from the center-front of the appliance/sink.
- No work triangle leg intersects an island/peninsula or other obstacle by more than 12″.
Rule 5 – Work Triangle Traffic
Guideline: No major traffic patterns should cross through the basic work triangle.
Rule 6 – Work Aisle
Guideline: The width of a work aisle should be at least 42” for one cook and at least 48” for multiple cooks, measured between the counter frontage, tall cabinets and/or appliances.
Rule 7 – Walkway
Guideline: The width of a walkway should be at least 36”.
Guideline: In a seating area where no traffic passes behind a seated diner, allow 32” of clearance from the counter/table edge to any wall or other obstruction behind the seating area.
Rule 9 – Seating Space
Guideline: Kitchen seating should be a minimum of 24″ wide for each person. Also:
For 30″ high tables/counters, a minimum 18″ deep clear knee space for each seated diner.
For 36″ high counters, a minimum 15″ deep clear knee space for each seated diner.
For 42″ high counters, a minimum 12″deep clear knee space for each seated diner.
Rule 10 – Cleanup/Prep Sink Placement
Guideline: If a kitchen has only one sink, locate it adjacent to or across from the cooking surface and refrigerator.
Rule 11 – Cleanup/Prep Sink Landing Area
Guideline: Include at least a 24” wide landing area