Updated: Apr 21, 2020
There is never a one size-fits-all solution in home design and planning, and we usually do not have an agenda or pre-conceived solution before getting to know our clients better. However, there are formulas that we try to follow when it comes to kitchen cabinet design & planning.
This formula will depend on your priorities, types of kitchen appliance to be used and the products or modules available to you (especially if you are dealing with the carpenter/ contractor/ kitchen specialist on your own).
Yes, the triangle (storage, preparation, cooking) kitchen planning is the main ingredient, but not always within control as it depends on the size of the kitchen, position of electrical and plumbing inlet/ outlet, and amount of hacking/ relocation that you are willing to commit to achieve your dream kitchen.
This video from Ikea is also quite informative especially if you're planning a major kitchen re-haul.
Below may be some of the steps and formulas that we take in our own kitchen planning process.
1. Cabinet door sizes
We try to have the door width in the denomination of 15cm (15, 30, 45cm) with 45cm being the maximum width. Built-in appliance below counter tops usually have a width of 60cm, and so this system prevents having odd leftovers on both sides of the appliance. This planning also fit into many accessories, gadgets and third party kitchen systems out in the market. 45cm max width for any doors prevents taking up too much space when door is opened and reduces the weight of door panels which might lead to sagging. Of course not all kitchen width can be divided equally, and so whatever leftover balance will be added to the width of drawers (as this does not hinder convenience during usage).
There any many notable kitchen systems (Blum, Hafele, Pio, Ikea) that we pair alongside our custom kitchen to maximise usage and convenience. This prevents reinvention of the wheel every single time and by using a pre-made product helps to bring the cost down. 3 main issues that we commonly faced are corners (in an L or U-shaped kitchens), storage for plates/ bowls, and condiments.
This Ikea corner carousel is our go-to solutions to fill in the corners in the kitchen base (lower cabinet). Ability to store larger appliance or kitchen wares, convenience due to its rotating feature and it only need to take up 30cm of width on both sides makes this a no brainer.
This Pio rack helps organisation of plates and bowls improves access (easier to get compared to when its stacked up vertically), helps drain access water should they not be dried completely before storage (made of plastic and aluminium) and the whole drawer is built to withstand the weight of these kitchen wares.
3. Top cabinet height and depth
In the early years, our top (or as many calls them wall-mounted) cabinet is positioned slightly higher (preventing head injury) and deeper to increase storage. We have since made adjustments to improve usability of the top cabinet by moving it lower to 60cm, measured from the top of the counter and bottom of the top cabinet.
This improves efficiency of kitchen hoods (less distance), ease of reach especially when there are racks above (especially dish racks above kitchen sink) and compliments standard market tiles sizes (30, 60cm) by not having odd tiles leftovers which is visible in our previous settings.
To prevent top cabinet doors knocking into users, depth has also even reduced to 30cm. Bigger items can always be stored below anti proves to be safer too.
Most of the cabinet door handles are recessed to keep the kitchen neat and tidy. For aesthetic reasons, nice or practical cabinet door handles can sometimes affect the overall look of the theme or design even with such a small item. Some do argue the need to hand a small towel on the handle, but it might not be worth furnishing the kitchen with handles, only for 1 or 2 of them to be utilised.
Another alternative (and getting popular too) and the multi-purpose bars and rails system easily available in Ikea.
Again, there is no one size fits all definition of practicality. So don't worry about the kitchen not being normal.
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