Errors in the design of a kitchen hurts both the consumer and the designer.

For the consumer, an error or mistake in the design of their kitchen can cause irritation daily or produce an unsafe environment.

For the Kitchen Designer, mistakes and errors can hurt your reputation, erode your margins and decrease your referrals.

This blog article we will look at part 2 of this series and help you identify common errors in Kitchen Design so you can avoid them.

If you prefer to view rather than read you can check out Identifying Common Errors in Kitchen Design for FREE on VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN. Well worth it for the extra Designer Tips presented in that presentation!

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Floorplan & Perspective

In Part 1 you were introduced to this floorplan that while it looks pretty good, has Kitchen Design errors throughout.

The first 4 errors identified in this plan were:

  1. Inadequate Work Aisle Clearances
  2. Inefficient Work Triangle
  3. Poor Traffic Flow
  4. Insufficient Counter Landing Space

There are 6 more categories of errors still to be found starting with this one.

#5 Appliance Placement Conflicts

Floorplan where the placement of  appliances causes conflicts
Range, wine refrigerator and dishwasher placement cause conflicts

In Part 1 we saw that by not showing appliances accurately on the floorplan, it can cause clearance and traffic flow issues.

There are additional appliance related issues in this Kitchen Design.

With the range placed directly beside a base corner cabinet, that door will never open completely.

The main hinged door hits the range making access to the cabinet difficult.

Even if the designer had hinged the cabinet on the other side, there is not enough room for the double doors to open without hitting the range.

The specific placement of appliances can also cause functional design issues.

The dishwasher and wine refrigerator were placed directly opposite each other causing the doors to hit when both are in use.

It is quite plausible that after a meal, while someone was cleaning up, another person may want to retrieve an after-dinner bottle of wine.

If the client has a lot of dinner parties, which may be why they wanted a wine refrigerator in the first place, this placement could cause a lot of collisions in the kitchen.

#6 Inconvenient Appliance Locations

Location of Microwave and Built-in Coffee Maker are in awkward locations

Again, appliances are the focus of this category of errors.

Both the microwave and the built-in coffee maker could have been more conveniently positioned.

The placement of the microwave beside a right-hand wall will make it awkward to access.

This is because almost every hinged microwave on the market hinges on the left.

The user of the microwave would be bunched up against the wall if the mudroom door was closed or be forced to stand in the mudroom while accessing items inside the microwave due to the door swing.

Of course there is no landing counter for items coming out of the microwave either.

The built-in coffee maker has also been inconveniently placed.

Even though an adult can reach the machine to get a freshly brewed cup of coffee, the beans are added through the top of these units making it difficult to load at this height.

Cleaning would also require a step stool.

#7 Dining Bar Failures

Each diner needs a minimum of 24" wide and 15" deep clear to be functional
Dinning bar in this plan is not functional for 4

Mistakes involving dining bars occur much too frequently in Kitchen Design.

Even though this is a place for informal dining, Kitchen Designers need to make these spaces comfortable and safe.

There are two issues with this dining bar design.

First is that the dining bar will not accommodate the four diners shown on the plan.

To be comfortable sitting on a stool at a 36″ high counter, every diner needs a minimum of 24″ width and 15″ of knee space depth.

The two people on the end will not fit comfortably on the 42″ wide island and knees will be knocking when everyone ponies up to this bar.

An additional failure at the dining bar area is no form of support for the deep overhang.

In an installation like this there is a good likely hood that if someone were to sit or stand on this countertop it would crack or break.

#8 No Fillers Specified

Floorplan that shows lack of filler where needed
Filler missing at end wall

The number 8 mistake is that no fillers were specified in the design.

When frameless cabinetry is enclosed by a wall, a filler piece needs to be included between the wall and the cabinet to ensure everything in that area functions properly.

Lack of filler has the potential to cause damage to cabinetry, door trim and door.
Areas were potential damage can occur due to lack of filler piece

By not including a filler the lower drawer would not open fully because it would hit the door casing edge.

The full width wall oven would also interfere with the casing or the door hardware in this design.

There is also an issue with the upper right side door. The handle would hit the mudroom door when this cabinet was being accessed because there is not enough space to accommodate the depth of the handle.

All of these issues, due to the lack of a filler, have potential to cause damage to the cabinet, the oven, the door casing and even the door.

#9 Insufficient Space for Casings

Floorplan showing room was not left for door and window  casings.
Cabinetry too close to end doesn’t leave room for casings

We see insufficient space for casings happening at the mudroom door and at the window.

In this design, the upper cabinet above the refrigerator interferes with the casing and will produce a very bad design detail.

The finishing carpenter will be forced to cut the casing around this cabinet producing a poor detail.

A similar issue occurs at the window.

The upper cabinets beside the window were aligned with the window opening interfering with the window casings.

This would be a very noticeable design flaw once the kitchen was completed.

Even if the window was specified without casings, this installation is difficult to achieve since even the slightest variation in squareness at the window would be noticeable.

The final set of mistakes deal with cabinet choice and placement.

What I mean by this is not paying attention to functional and aesthetic considerations when specifying cabinets for the design.

#10 Cabinet Specification Issues

Perspective showing poor cabinet choices.
Areas where cabinet choices were not thought out


There are problems with cabinet placement on the two side walls of this kitchen design.

Starting with the refrigerator wall, there are two cabinet specification issues.

The first is the upper cabinet above the refrigerator.

A 24″ deep upper cabinet can provide great storage but in this design it does not have the necessary support to hold it up.

This type of cabinet needs to have a side gable and preferably two, to support the heavy cabinet.

The upper cabinet between the refrigerator and the tall coffee maker cabinet is also problematic.

First it is out of proportion in the design being so narrow and it will be difficult to access.

The handle on this narrow upper cabinet will hit the tall cabinet to the right every time it is opened.

There will be some access to this unit but it will be limited.

This last example is a mistake I see inexperienced and experienced kitchen designers making.

When working on the design from floorplan view, they will match the upper cabinet sizes to the base cabients.

Here the end upper cabinet lines up with the end base cabinet, the center cabinet lines up with the wine refrigerator and the cabinet beside the hood lines up with the base bank of drawers.

This seems logical but since we view the kitchen form eye level, it is more important to balance the upper cabinets horizontally.

In this design the upper cabinets end up including an 18″ door, then two 12″ doors then two 15″ doors.

It works on the base run because the wine refrigerator is a break between the two base cabinets, but at the upper cabinets this is confusing to the eye and people will always feel that something is off in this area.

Always do a final check by viewing your Kitchen Design in elevation or perspective to check for proportional balance in the design.

As you can see there is a lot to think about when designing a Kitchen.

It is a very complicated room to design with cabinets, counters, appliances, sinks and more all having to work together cohesively.

Errors can affect the functionality, aesthetics and safety of the room.

Most importantly once installed, mistakes in the kitchen are very costly to remedy.

It is the Kitchen Designer’s responsibility to avoid errors.

Luckily mistakes can be avoided.

The best way to do this is to know The Science of Design; the functional and safety details of Kitchen Design.

The Science of Kitchen Design also covers the technical aspects of products and materials.

The Science of Design should be the foundation of your Kitchen Design work.

The next is to keep current on The Art of Design.

Every client wants a beautiful Kitchen that will last for many years. Keeping up to date with all the current trends, products and materials is also very important.

VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN can help you with all this. Check out our courses here.

So, looking at the original floorplan and implementing what you have learned,

Is there a better design for this space?

After evaluating the design what would you do?

To see my example of a better design check out the video version of Identifying Common Errors in Kitchen Design with the solution revealed at the end of the presentation.

I would also love for you to share your solutions.

There is always more than one way to design a functional kitchen within a space.

Please leave your comments below.

Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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