A kitchen remodel is an exciting project that allows you to update your home and create a functional, beautiful space. Careful planning is crucial when remodeling your kitchen to ensure you make the most of your available space and budget. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to plan your kitchen layout during a renovation.

Assess Your Needs

The first step is identifying how you use your kitchen and any problems with the existing layout. Consider the following:

  • How many people regularly cook in the kitchen? Do multiple people need to work at once?
  • What activities happen in your kitchen? Cooking, baking, homework, family gatherings?
  • What don’t you like about the current layout? Not enough counter space or storage? Poor lighting?
  • What works well in the current kitchen that you want to keep?
  • What would make the space more functional and enjoyable for you? More prep space? Island or peninsula? Desk area?

Analyzing how your family uses the kitchen will help guide decisions on the new layout.

Take Measurements

Carefully measure your existing kitchen space including walls, windows, doorways, and appliances. This will allow you to map out different layout options to scale. Measurements to note include:

  • Dimensions of the room – length and width
  • Ceiling height
  • Window and door locations
  • Appliance sizes – fridge, stove, dishwasher etc
  • Plumbing and electrical locations
  • Counter depths and heights
  • Cabinet and island dimensions

Having detailed measurements will be essential for creating an accurate floor plan.

Map Out a New Floor Plan

With a good understanding of your needs and measurements, start mapping out a new kitchen floor plan. Here are some tips for planning:

  • Graph paper or kitchen planning software helps make an accurate layout
  • Indicate windows, doors, plumbing, etc based on measurements
  • Play around with different configurations to optimize the work triangle
  • Allow proper clearance around appliances for accessibility
  • Ensure enough space between countertops, islands, and doorways
  • Plan for at least 36 inches between cabinets for main kitchen pathways
  • Consider different countertop heights and depths based on activities
  • Accommodate any must-have items like desk area, pantry, or coffee station

Creating multiple floor plan options allows you to evaluate different layouts.

Optimize the Work Triangle

The work triangle is the distance between the main kitchen work stations – the refrigerator, stove, and sink. Aim for:

  • Each triangle leg to be 4-9 feet long
  • Total triangle perimeter of 13-26 feet
  • Clear paths between work stations – no obstructions

Optimizing this crucial triangle minimizes unnecessary steps between cooking tasks.

Ensure Proper Clearances

Allow ample clearance around appliances, islands, and doorways:

  • Refrigerators: At least 15 inches on the hinge side to open door
  • Dishwashers: 24 inches in front for door to open fully
  • Stoves: 30 inches of clearance on one side, or 48 between opposing countertops
  • Islands: At least 42 inches circulation area around islands
  • Doorways: Take into account any door swings into the kitchen

Proper appliance and traffic clearances prevent potential injuries and collisions.

Consider Lighting, Storage, and More

Beyond the basic layout, factor in other kitchen elements:

  • Lighting: Task lighting, ambient lighting, and natural light access
  • Storage: Cabinet, drawer, and pantry space
  • Countertops: Sufficient landing space and meal prep areas
  • Seating: Islands, bar stool areas, banquette nooks
  • Technology: Locations for outlets, appliances, TVs etc
  • Style: How cabinets, backsplashes, sinks etc integrate into design

Cover all the details needed for your dream kitchen.

Evaluate Multiple Layouts

Draft up a few different layout options considering all the above factors. Evaluate each one:

  • Does it address your kitchen needs?
  • Is there an efficient work triangle?
  • Are the clearances sufficient?
  • Does it fit within the physical space?
  • Can you afford the layout?

Comparing several plans side-by-side will help you determine the optimal kitchen design.

Consider Pros/Cons of Layout Changes

As you tweak the layout, weigh the pros and cons of each change:


  • Moving fridge creates better work triangle
  • Peninsula adds more seating
  • New island allows two cooks
  • Pantry provides more storage


  • Moving plumbing lines costs more
  • Removing wall reduces room privacy
  • Island blocks window view
  • Extending kitchen infringes on next room

Decide what trade-offs you are willing to make for desired changes.

Work Within Your Budget

Adhere to your budget as you make layout decisions:

  • Move appliances minimally to avoid plumbing costs
  • Use existing cabinetry in new floorplan if possible
  • Opt for smaller island or bar instead of huge island
  • Install mid-priced counters like quartz instead of marble
  • Use stock cabinets and budget-friendly materials

Prioritize essential changes while eliminating unnecessary expenses.

Hire a Kitchen Designer

Consider hiring a professional kitchen designer, especially for complex layouts. Designers can:

  • Suggest layout ideas you may not have considered
  • Ensure compliance with kitchen codes
  • Make a 3D model of the new kitchen
  • Order all cabinets and materials for the project

This expertise can save time and headaches during renovations.

Plan Lighting Early On

Lighting is integral to an enjoyable, functional kitchen. Plan lighting early in the process:

  • Evaluate natural light from windows – where is more needed?
  • Include task lighting over key work stations
  • Allow for attractive ambient lighting on ceiling and under cabinets
  • Use dimmers to adjust light levels
  • Consider pendant lights over islands and bars

Factor in lighting placements as you finalize the floor plan.

Create Inspiration Boards

Curate inspiration photos to hone in on your preferred:

  • Cabinetry styles and finishes
  • Hardware selections
  • Countertop materials
  • Backsplash designs
  • Flooring options
  • Paint colors
  • Furnishings

This helps communicate your aesthetic to contractors.

Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Opt for sustainable, non-toxic materials whenever possible:

  • FSC certified wood cabinets
  • Low or no VOC paints and finishes
  • Recycled glass or natural stone countertops
  • Energy efficient lighting and appliances

This limits your environmental impact.

Draw the Layout to Scale

Once finalized, create a to-scale drawing of the new layout depicting:

  • Exact room dimensions
  • All existing elements like windows
  • Planned changes like relocated doorways
  • Cabinet and appliance footprints
  • Sink, plumbing, electrical locations

This is an essential reference for contractors.

Allow Time for Permits

Factor in permitting time if making significant kitchen changes:

  • Moving walls or plumbing requires planning permits
  • Electrical and HVAC changes need permits
  • 6-8 weeks is typical for permit approval

Avoid delays by allotting sufficient permitting time.

Careful planning is key to a functional, cost-effective kitchen remodel. Analyze how your family uses the kitchen, measure the existing space, and create multiple layout options focused on an optimized work triangle. Consider all design elements from lighting to storage to style. Hire a professional designer if needed, and draw the final layout to scale. Build in permit approval times. With diligent planning guided by your needs, priorities and budget, your kitchen renovation will turn out beautifully.

Frequently Asked Questions about Planning a Kitchen Remodel (FAQs)

Here are some common questions about planning a kitchen remodel layout:

Q: How much space do I need for a kitchen island?

A: Allow at least 42 inches of circulation space around all sides of a kitchen island. Islands under 3 feet wide will feel cramped.

Q: Should I keep existing cabinet footprint or reconfigure?

A: Reconfiguring cabinets allows greater flexibility in layout. But keeping their footprint minimizes installation work and costs.

Q: What is the optimal kitchen sink placement?

A: Locate the sink between or across from the refrigerator and stove in the work triangle. Avoid placing under a window.

Q: How wide should a kitchen doorway be?

A: Standard is 36 inches wide but consider wider if large equipment like island or fridge need to pass through.

Q: Should I include upper cabinets to the ceiling?

A: Yes, using all vertical space increases storage. Consider glass-front uppers to avoid closed-in feeling.

Q: What is the best lighting for a kitchen?

A: Use a combination of task lighting over workstations, ambient ceiling lights, and accent lighting under cabinets.

Q: How do I allow for multiple cooks in kitchen layout?

A: Include multiple prep zones, at least 42” aisles, two sinks, and two dishwasher drawers.

Q: How much counter space do I need?

A: Allow at least 16 linear feet of standard-depth counter space for a small kitchen, and 25 feet for a larger one.