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.
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.
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.
Guidelines recommend a minimum of 12” landing area on one side of a cooking surface, and 15” on the other side.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Notice the sink can be close to a corner, as long as the return has 21” of frontage.
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.
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.
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
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!