Essential Kitchen Dimensions and How to Measure Them

Jun 18, 2021

denisismagilov / stock.adobe.com

If you’re planning a redesign, there are some standard kitchen dimensions you’ll need to know to ensure you get kitchen units that fit perfectly and save you from any hassle further down the line. Before you get started on planning your new kitchen, it pays to invest some time in really considering what you want and need from your space. Do you want an entirely new kitchen, or are you happy to update your existing kitchen, perhaps by adding some new wall units and updating your kitchen worktop? If you’re happy with the existing layout, you can maximize your budget by keeping some elements of the kitchen (such as the sink and appliances) where they are. Take a look at our guide to discover the essential kitchen dimensions you shouldn't overlook.

Essential Kitchen Dimensions

Once you know what you want, it’s time to find out those dimensions and figure out how much space you have to play with. Let’s dive into the non-negotiable elements:

  • Height of kitchen units
  • Kitchen wall unit depth
  • Distance between worktop and wall units
  • Kitchen counter height
  • Worktop length and width
En Masse Bespoke

Aesthetic Considerations

While the practicality of a kitchen is obviously important, it’s also a room where you can bring the wow factor to a home. You could say there’s nothing more homey than a welcoming kitchen, and it’s a place for entertaining as well as cooking. But measurement plays a part there, too. We asked David Conlon, head designer and founder of En Masse Bespoke Interiors, if he has one piece of advice that shows how measurement can affect aesthetics, particularly in a smaller kitchen, which seems to be par for the course in modern apartments and even some houses.

"It can be tempting to go with smaller units, especially if the kitchen space is small,” he says. “However, a long run of cupboard units that are full height (floor to ceiling) will give extra storage, utilize the space and give the illusion of a larger room. Floor to ceiling kitchen units that have a reflective finish are also a great option for reflecting the light in a small space."

Worktops

It’s easy to measure your kitchen worktop height if you already have one in place that you’re replacing. Simply grab your measuring tape and measure the distance from the top of the worktop to the bottom.

The standard kitchen worktop height in the UK is 90cm, which is slightly higher than the average table which stands at 75cm. This is just a guide though and you may want a higher or lower worktop, for example, if you’re particularly tall or if you’re a wheelchair user.

A good rule of thumb to get the height right is that your wrist bone should be level with the top of the worktop when you’re in front of it. At this height, it’s both more comfortable and ergonomically sound for carrying out common tasks such as chopping and preparing food. You never need to stick to the standard kitchen counter height (or any other standard measurements, for that matter), as everything should be customisable to your needs.

You’ll also need to measure the kitchen worktop depth (or worktop width, the two terms are interchangeable). To do this, you just need to measure the distance from the wall to the front of the kitchen counter. Standard worktops tend to be 60cm deep but again, this should be easily customisable if you need more space.

Finally, you should measure the worktop length, running from either end of the worktop’s surface. These three dimensions will ensure you get something that fits beautifully in your newly redesigned kitchen and leaves you free to dream about the more important things - like whether you’ll go for wooden worktops, granite, quartz or laminate worktops!

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Kitchen Units

When it comes to units, you primarily need to work out the height and depth. You need to know the kitchen base unit height, which is essentially the lower kitchen cabinets without the countertop. As we mentioned above, the standard height of kitchen units is 90cm, so it’s hard to find units that vary too far from this unless you have something bespoke made up. But don’t forget, appliances like dishwashers and washing machines are built to this standard too.

When thinking about new wall cabinets, know that most cabinet makers can make kitchen units to any height, so you can have them extending up to the ceiling if you have a small kitchen and need extra storage space. Remember though, that the higher your cabinets are, the more difficult they’ll be to access, so make sure you have a footstool handy.

You’ll also need to know the kitchen unit depth which is, again, the distance between the back of the wall and the front of the unit. The standard kitchen cabinet size is usually 60cm deep, and this is measured to include the thickness of the front door, but it doesn’t include the handles.

Distance between worktop and wall units

Measuring the space between the worktop and cabinets is also important. The usual distance is 40cm, which allows for enough space to use the worktop to its full potential whilst also enabling almost everyone to reach the cupboards. The standard heights are usually negotiable, though, so if you need something different to the standard countertop height or you want a bigger space between the worktop and wall units, just let your joiner know.

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Island depth and height

If you have an island in your kitchen, you’ll also need to get its dimensions. Measure the height and width - a standard island worktop is 60cm deep, and if you’re planning on redesigning your island and want additional storage, you should add 30cm for shallow storage or 60cm for deep storage.

Just make sure your island does actually work as an aesthetic piece. As Tom Howley, Design Director of his self-named kitchen design company, warns: “Kitchens need to be as functional as they are beautiful, and sacrificing floor space to fit an island will just give an awkward, uncomfortable look. The importance of walkway space should be a key consideration. When designing your layout, always leave a meter of walkway space either one or two sides of your worktop, island, or peninsula counter. This is a functionally and aesthetically effective dimension to keep in mind.”

En Masse’s David Conlon agrees: “An island is a great feature of a bigger kitchen, but you need at the very minimum no less than one meter between other worktops and an island, otherwise it will disrupt how you work in the kitchen and make it too cramped, specifically when opening drawers.”

That one-meter rule certainly appears to be a pretty hard and fast rule among kitchen designers. Think about the kitchens you’ve been in where there’s an island – what’s the walkway around them like? Would they be blocked if a drawer was open or a person was standing there?

The height of the island should generally match the height of your kitchen worktops, but if you’re going for a breakfast bar, plan to have this a little higher – 110cm usually works well. This is high enough to shield the kitchen (ideal for open-plan living areas), and creates a focal point for the room.

Create a floor plan

Once you’ve taken all of the essential kitchen dimensions, you can get to work on sketching out a floor plan and dreaming up what your new kitchen will look like. Be sure to measure the length of the kitchen and the height of your walls to get a realistic picture of what can fit in where.

With a firm idea of what the cabinets and worktops will look like in mind, you can start to plot in kitchen accessories to add your statement style and create an aesthetic that’s truly your own.