The kitchen is the room in a home where functionality is king. As far as kitchen design goes, right up there with the Work Triangle is the Landing Area. Well-planned landing areas streamline the prepping, cooking and cleaning for a cook, and can make you love or hate your kitchen. Here we will look more closely at the recommended guidelines for best practices in planning for landing areas surrounding cooktops, refrigerators, sinks, ovens, microwaves, and how to combine landing areas when two appliances are adjacent. It is important to note that we will not be addressing ‘clearances’ here, which come with more stringent rules and could encompass an entirely different blog. Let’s start with prep work, which begins with pulling food out of the refrigerator.

Kitchen Design Tip: Refrigerator Landing Areas

Guidelines recommend 15” of space on either one or both sides of the refrigerator, 15” above an under-counter refrigerator, or if that is not possible, to have 15” of landing space no more than 48” in front of the refrigerator. Here we see the landing space in front of the refrigerator as well as beside it.

Industrial style urban loft ktichen design with black painted cabinets with warm rich wood finishes and red brick walls. This kitchen remodel features a stunning kitchen island with a wood countertop and lots of industrial features.

Dura Supreme kitchen w/refrigerator landing space next to and across from fridge

There are three sets of guidelines regarding cooking appliances, let’s start with those surrounding a cooktop.

Kitchen Design Tip: Cook Surface or Cooktop Landing Areas

Guidelines recommend a minimum of 12” landing area on one side of a cooking surface, and 15” on the other side.

A modern casual kitchen featuring Rustic Hickory cabinets by Dura Supreme with green accents, waterfall countertop, and sleek stainless steel appliances.

Dura Supreme kitchen with sufficient landing areas on left and right sides of cooking surface

In a peninsula or island situation, it is also recommended to have 9” of countertop behind the cooking surface if the countertop height is the same height as the surface cooking appliance.

Dura Supreme kitchen by designer Molly McCabe at A Kitchen That Works LLC showing recommended landing space behind cooktop in an island.

Dura Supreme kitchen by designer Molly McCabe at A Kitchen That Works LLC showing recommended landing space behind cooktop in a kitchen island.

Guidelines recommend a minimum of 15” above, below or adjacent to the handle side of a microwave. This applies to ‘over the range’, wall, and below-countertop models.

Kitchen Design Tip: Microwave Landing Areas
A Dura Supreme kitchen design by Seigle's Cabinet Center showing recommended landing space near a microwave oven.

Dura Supreme kitchen by Seigle’s Cabinet Center showing recommended landing space near a microwave oven

Guidelines recommend 15” of space on either one or both sides of an oven, or if the oven is in a tall cabinet and this is not possible, to have 15” of landing space no more than 48” in front of the oven as long as it does not open into the main walkway.

Kitchen Design Tip: Oven Landing Areas

Below is an application of this guideline in a wall oven space.

Dura Supreme kitchen by Mariotti Building Products showing recommended landing area near an oven, photography by Danielle Coons

Dura Supreme kitchen by Mariotti Building Products showing recommended landing area near an oven, photography by Danielle Coons

Finally, when all the cooking and eating is done, it is time for cleanup. With this came the guidelines for landing areas surrounding a sink. Keep in mind these areas are used for food prep as well as cleaning.

Kitchen Design Tip: Prep Sink Landing Area

Guidelines recommend including at least a 24” wide landing area to one side of the sink, and at least an 18” wide landing area on the other side.

Kitchen Design Tip: Clean Up Zone or Prep Sink Landing Areas

Notice the sink can be close to a corner, as long as the return has 21” of frontage.

A modern danish style kitchen with scandinavian pendant lights over the shiplap kitchen island with an X Island End Cap.

Dura Supreme kitchen showing recommended landing areas on either side of sink with adjacent dishwasher.

Achieving one of these landing areas is usually pretty easy, as most adjacent dishwashers are 24” wide.

Dura Supreme kitchen by Mariotti Building Products with sink in island meeting the recommended guidelines for landing areas on either side, photography by Danielle Coons

Making sure you have the 18” on the other side can present challenges in smaller kitchens, or when the sink is located in an island.

Making sure you have the 18” on the other side can present challenges in smaller kitchens, or when the sink is located in a kitchen island.

Oftentimes two items needing landing space are close to each other.

Kitchen Design Tip: Combined Landing Areas

Guidelines suggest that when this happens, take the larger of the 2 landing area sizes, and add 12”.

Dura Supreme kitchen by Mariotti Building Products showing a combined landing area, photography by Danielle Coons

Dura Supreme kitchen by Mariotti Building Products showing a combined landing area, photography by Danielle Coons

To wrap up planning a kitchen space, once you’ve determined the general work triangle, the next most important thing is to ensure adequate landing spaces. After this, you just need to focus on the guts inside the cabinetry and the materials and finishes. Hopefully, these guidelines make your decision-making much easier!

Sandy is the Lead Designer for Dura Supreme Cabinetry with 15+ years of involvement in the field of Kitchen & Bath Design and a degree in Interior Design. Sandy’s experience ranges from running all aspects of a Design+Build firm to creating beautiful cabinetry designs at Dura Supreme. She has been a judge through the Builders Association of the Twin Cities for their semi-annual Parade of Homes Tour and is continually inspired by creative uses of space, appreciating projects where form and function are blended seamlessly.

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