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We're going to share tips from the SlidingShelf.com staff, who have years of experience in designing, building, and installing kitchen cabinets and remodeling kitchens. Best of all,
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These tips are being gathered by Dan, one of the staff at SlidingShelf.com. Since Dan is the oldest of the staff, he also has the most experience to share. And since Dan is bringing all this together, we call it Dan'z Kitchen Tips. (See 'About Dan')
If you are involved in a kitchen project, you'll want to browse this site and take advantage of those years of experience to improve your kitchen layout or just make your kitchen more convenient.
We have divided the contents into areas so finding the tip you need is a lot easier. Just click on the topic that interests you. We'll be adding tips and details, so come back and visit often.
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In This page...
This section is devoted to the Kitchen design basics. Kitchen cabinets that set on the floor are called ' Base Cabinets ', while the upper cabinets are called ' Wall Cabinets '. Other, more self-explanatory types are ' Office Cabinets ', ' Furniture Cabinets' , and ' Bath or Vanity Cabinets '. We'll cover the Office, Furniture, and Bath cabinets in other sections.
Cabinet manufacturers make both their base and wall cabinets in 3" increments in width. For example, if you want a cabinet with all drawers, you will probably have available an all-drawer cabinet 12", 15", 18", 21", or 24" wide.
A base kitchen cabinet is 24" deep x 34-1/2" tall. The goal is to have the top of the countertop at 36". Countertops are usually 1-1/2" thick. So adding a 34-1/2" tall cabinet and a 1-1/2" countertop attains the desired 36" overall height of the kitchen work space.
A base cabinet may also be used for desks or eating surfaces using standard height kitchen chairs. In that case, the height of the cabinet will be 28-1/2". Adding the 1-1/2" countertop brings the desk top or eating surface to 30" overall height.
Another use for base cabinets is to provide a serving bar. The standard height of a serving bar is 42". If you want cabinets under your serving bar you will need to find a cabinet company that either manufactures a 40-1/2" tall base cabinet or components that may be stacked together to bring the total height to 40-1/2". Add the 1-1/2" countertop, and you're at 42".
There is normally one shelf in the standard kitchen cabinet, usually adjustable, that is either full-depth, or only a 1/2-shelf. The 1/2-shelf is 12" deep, while the cabinet itself is 24" deep. The 40-1/2" tall cabinet has 2 shelves and usually has no drawer.
There are several different types of base cabinets for your kitchen design. They are usually a combination of a drawer above and a door below, but other configurations are also available. Here are the basic base cabinet shapes.
Kitchen wall cabinets also come in 3" increments in width. But they are also available in different heights.
A wall cabinet 30" tall should be set at 84" from the finished floor to the top of the cabinet. That leaves a space of 18" between the countertop and the cabinet bottom.
The 18" distance from the countertop to the bottom of the wall cabinets remains constant. If you use 36" wall cabinets, the top of them would be 90" from the finish floor. The 42" wall cabinets would be at an even 8 feet (96") from the finish floor.
If you're short, you may want to fudge a little and set the wall cabinets a little lower. However, be aware that countertop appliance manufacturers count on a minimum space of about 16". Any lower than that and coffee makers, blenders, etc. might not fit between the countertop and the bottom of the wall cabinets. Also keep in mind that if you use any tall cabinets in the run, they are 84", 90", or 96" tall. If you install your kitchen wall cabinets lower they won't line up with the top of the tall units. (That's not necessarily a bad thing. We'll discuss that later, in Design Details.)
If you want more space or you like the look of taller wall cabinets in your kitchen, you can opt for 36" or 42" tall wall cabinets. Both sizes are usually standard by cabinet manufacturers. However, cabinet factories offering limited sizes will opt for the 30" and 42" heights, leaving out the 36" tall wall cabinets.
Both the 36" and 42" wall cabinets have an extra shelf in them. A 30" wall cabinet has 2 shelves (usually adjustable) while the 36" and 42" wall cabinets have 3 shelves. The bottom of the cabinet remains 18" above the countertop surface, so the top of a 36" cabinet is set at 90" off the finish floor and the top of the 42" cabinet is a full 8 feet (96") off the finish floor.
Other heights are available. They are shorter, and designed to be placed above the refrigerator or over the cook-top or range.
The cabinet over the range is from 12" to 18" tall, depending on the type of range hood or microwave/vent you intend to use below it.
For wall cabinets above refrigerators, be sure the measurement from the bottom of the cabinet to the floor will allow your refrigerator to slide in place easily. You don't want to be faced with shopping for an unusually short refrigerator to fit the space you've allowed. (See Allowing for the Refrigerator.)
Shorter or taller wall cabinets may also be used in layouts for other purposes. Stacked together to create different heights, etc.
While wall cabinets in the kitchen are generally 12" deep, they are also available in 24" depth. And in the larger cabinet manufacturers, may be changed to other depths as an option. Commonly, the up-charge for reducing the depth or increasing the depth is an additional 25% of the original cabinet cost. There are many reasons changing the depth of a wall cabinet may be desirable, depending on your kitchen design layout.
Tall cabinets are used in the kitchen for built-in ovens (or microwave/oven combinations), broom closets, and pantries. They are available in 12" or 24" depths, and 84", 90", and 96" heights. Again, kitchen manufacturers with limited sizes will drop the 90" height from their list, offering only the 84" and 96" heights. And the same manufacturers may have only the 24" depth available, leaving out the 12" depth.
Depending on the manufacturer, there may be shelving included in the standard cabinet, or no shelving. If no shelving is included there should be a shelf package available for each width of tall cabinet offered.
When the height is changed from 84" to 90" or 96", the upper door is changed and the bottom door remains constant.
One note... if you are thinking of a tall cabinet to use for a broom closet, check the height of the bottom portion. It may be too short to store a broom inside without cutting off the handle. And going to a taller unit won't help, because the bottom portion is the same size no matter how tall the cabinet is.
Tall oven cabinets are built to contain single ovens or double ovens. Microwave/Oven combinations go into the same cabinet as a double oven. Both single and double oven cabinets come in 4 widths. 24", 27", 30", and 33". They usually fit an oven smaller in width then the cabinet, as the back end of the oven must go inside the cabinet. The only thing showing on the oven is the front. But sometimes the manufacturer of the oven has designed a 30" oven to fit a 30" cabinet, etc.
The oven cabinet will come with a hole for the oven to fit into that may be left as is, but probably will have to be cut larger so the oven will slide into place. The oven manufacturer will provide 'Cut-0ut' dimensions, and the cabinet manufacturer will provide 'Cut-Out' width and height minimum and maximum. Make sure they're a match to avoid disappointments and costly job interruptions.
When matching the oven to the oven cabinet, it's best to select the oven first. You will be happier with the oven and the cabinet manufacturer will usually have an oven cabinet that will fit your appliance. But check before actually buying either.
For optimum placement the open oven door on a single oven should be about the same height as the kitchen countertop (36"). Kitchen cabinet manufacturers are aware of that and virtually all single oven cabinets will automatically obtain the optimum height for your oven when it's installed oven into the cabinet. The bottom oven on a double oven unit is lower than that, and the top oven is above that. They are both reachable, but neither oven is quite as handy as the height of a single oven.
Wall cabinets over the refrigerator must allow adequate space below so the normal size appliance will fit. A 25 cubic foot refrigerator is normally just under 36" wide (35-3/4" wide is typical), and usually 68-1/2" to 70-1/2" tall. A 22 cubic foot size is just under 33" wide (32-3/4" is typical) and about 67-1/2" to 68" tall. Below 22 cubic feet is a wide range of apartment-sized refrigerators that vary widely in both width and height. If you are planning for a smaller refrigerator you will want to research the normal size requirements for them so that you place the proper size wall cabinet above it.
Remember, the 30" cabinet will be set at 84" to the top of the cabinet. That means a wall cabinet over a 25 cubic foot refrigerator should be no more than 12" tall x 36" to 39" wide. With a 22 cubic foot refrigerator, plan on a wall cabinet 15" tall that is 33" to 36" wide.
The extra space in width as in, say a 39" wall cabinet for a refrigerator that is only 35-3/4" wide, is so the refrigerator may be set away from the wall a bit to allow the door to open adequately. Remember, the slide-out trays in the refrigerator must have clearance to pull them out fully. If the refrigerator is not to be against a wall then a 36" wide cabinet above it is perfect for the 35-3/4" width of a 25 cubic foot unit.
ALLOWING FOR THE RANGE or COOK-TOP
Ranges and cook-tops are normally 30" wide. However there are ranges available in 36" width, or even wider. If you will want something special, shop for this appliance before beginning plans on sizes of cabinets for your kitchen project. For a free-standing range, simply leave a 30" space in the base cabinets for a 30" range, 36" for a 36" range, etc. The size of the range or cook-top will also impact the wall cabinet sizing above the appliance.
If you are using a cook-top that sets into the countertop you will need a base cabinet below it. A 30" cook-top will fit over a 30" cabinet.
Any cabinet will do, except a cabinet with a drawer on top will interfere with either the electrical cord or the gas hook-up for the cook-top. Both of these are at the rear of the appliance, on the right-hand side as you face the unit.
The drawing on the left shows a standard base cabinet with two drawers above two doors. Simply remove the drawer on the right. Save the front of the drawer and re-attach as a false front. This is to allow room for the electrical or gas connection to the cook-top.
The standard cook-top base unit is shown on the top right. The difference between a sink base cabinet and a cook-top cabinet is a shelf in the cook-top cabinet. Both units have a full-width false front.
On the right at the bottom is a pots & pans drawer base. Again, remove the drawer box behind the right-hand drawer. Save the drawer front and re-attach as a false front.
If you are placing the oven in a tall cabinet and you need 2 ovens, and want your double oven cabinet to contain an oven/microwave, consider placing the 2nd oven in the base cabinet run, under the counter.
Some cabinet manufacturers make a base oven cabinet. Others do not. Even if your cabinet company does not, you can still have an oven in the base cabinets. This is accomplished with fillers and a plywood floor set in place by your cabinet installer.
To compute the distance (width) required add the cut-out width provided by the oven manufacturer to the fillers. The fillers may be cut to size on the job and may be between 1-1/2" and 3". The height of the cut-out size must be 27-3/4" or less.
One note... make sure the oven you purchase may be installed "Under-Counter". The manufacturer will tell you if it is designed for that purpose or not.
Virtually all dishwashers are 24" wide and are made to fit under a countertop that is 34-1/2" from the finish floor to the underside of the countertop. There is simply a 24" wide hole in the base cabinetry, ready to receive the dishwasher. You don't need to leave extra space, 24" is ample. The dishwasher manufacturers know you will have exactly 24" in which to install their appliance in your cabinet run.
There are clips at the top of the dishwasher to fasten it to the countertop. These keep the dishwasher from tipping forward when you lower the door and roll out a heavy rack of dishes. Of course if your countertop is anything but laminate, such as WilsonArt, Formica, Nevamar, etc. then you won't be able to use the clips, as you could not run a screw into a granite, quartz, or acrylic top. You must either confirm your dishwasher may be attached to the cabinets on each side, or purchase a side-mount installation kit for the dischwasher.
The kitchen design layout is only limited by the space available and your imagination. In this section we'll discuss the work triangle and show you a few of the basic shapes of kitchen layouts.
THE WORK TRIANGLE
If you draw a line from the kitchen sink to the cook-top or range, to the refrigerator, you've shown the work triangle for that kitchen. It's very basic, and does not take into account the various work spaces. (mixing, cooking, baking, and cleaning)
WORK SPACE PLANNING
Various experts have studied the space requirements when people perform certain tasks in the kitchen. They have broken them down to the following list. While the list is not all-inclusive, it covers the basic needs of people working in the kitchen.
Sink area : 24" counter space on one
side, 30" on the other.
Baking area : 60" of uninterrupted counter space is ideal.
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