Kitchen Design 101 Easy Kitchen Cabinet Design Guide

Designing your own kitchen is actually quite easy. Most kitchen cabinets and kitchen appliances come in standard sizes and widths, so before you get a sales designer out to your home, why not have a go yourself!

Start in deciding the things that you like and don’t like about your existing kitchen. If you’re happy with the overall layout, only make any changes to the existing arrangement if there’s a real benefit to this – it‘s much easier (and cheaper) to keep existing services in the same positions. Think about anything in your kitchen you’d like to keep – the kitchen appliances, sink and taps or any of the kitchen units.

Have a look through some home-interest magazines for inspiration or browse kitchen retailers or DIY stores to see the kind of styles and layouts you like. Kitchen companies spend a lot of money getting their in-store layouts just right – so feel free to steal their ideas! When you’re looking, don’t forget to include builders and merchants specialist kitchen showrooms, as well as a your local kitchen companies – you may get some very helpful advice.

If you may be selling your home in the near future, try to ensure you have a kitchen with a wide appeal such as a simple Shaker style. Alternatively, if the style of your home is contemporary, it might be worth looking for a good-value modern kitchen style with self-closing drawers, creative storage options and a granite worktop or composite.

Planning your new kitchen

You can start creating your new plan by measuring and mapping out your current kitchen walls on graph paper. Pads of A4 graph paper are readily available in most stationers and larger newsagents for a few pounds – the best thing about these pads is that the squares are drawn out at a metric scale of 1:20 – the ideal scale for planning a kitchen. What this means is that every square on the pad is 10cm x 10cm or 100mm x100mm.

With your measurements, start to draw the outline of your room on the pad. Mark where there are any restrictions, such as a chimney breast and doorway, then mark which kitchen walls are external (ie leading outside) or internal. Next mark where the electric sockets and switches are, where the plumbing and waste pipes are, wall vents – and anything else like gas or water meters that have to stay where they are.

If you have a boiler in the kitchen, highlight where and what type of boiler it is, as well as it‘s dimensions.

With your walls drawn in and all the various obstacles, structures and services marked – you have your bare room plan drawn! Now make some photocopies of it and then you’re ready to start your design!

Kitchen planning checklist

Roughly sketch in pencil a layout that you like – it doesn’t have to be detailed – what you’re doing is seeing what can and can’t fit. Kitchen countertops are on average 600mm deep, so on your plan that’s six squares. Draw the edge of your worktops six squares from your wall.

Next think about what appliances you’re having in the kitchen and think about where they’ll go.

To keep costs down, keep the sink and any wet appliances like washing machines and dishwashers near to where your water supply pipes and waste pipes are, your oven and hob near the gas or cooker supply switch, and any other built in appliances handy for the key work areas.


When planning:

1. Try to keep the overall distance between the sink, fridge and cooker at 7m or less. This makes cooking much easier as you’ll have less distance to travel.

2. Try to ensure at least 100cm clearance between runs of kitchen units, so that two people can move around at once (120cm or more is better, 100cm is the legal minimum in front of an oven.)

3. Standard 60cm deep units can be a tight squeeze if your kitchen is less than 170cm wide from one wall to the other. (This can be solved in fitting special 50cm deep kitchen units, or using units with a deep service void and cutting this down. It’s possible to buy shallower appliances, and “domino” hobs can be fitted side-on.)

4. Leave at least 40cm clearance between the worktop and wall-mounted units.

5. Wall mounted kitchen units next to gas hobs should be offset by at least 5cm.

6. Leave at least 70cm distance between two perpendicular runs at an entrance to the room. 100cm + is better.

7. Remember that most kitchen unit doors project into the kitchen by a maximum of 60cm. Dishwasher doors usually open by 60cm and oven doors by 50cm – try to avoid these doors clashing with one and other.


Try out a number of different layouts – that’s why you copied the plans.


Once you have a layout you’re happy with you can go back to any kitchen showrooms and see what they think. They’ll point out any mistakes you’ve made in layouts and may come up with some really good alternatives. Some will put your layout onto their CAD systems so you can walk around your virtual room.

The best thing is, you’re in charge. You’ve made your own plan, your own design and you don’t need to have a kitchen salesman (sorry designer) in your home for three hours.