The activity triangle

With all the elements and appliances found in a kitchen, it is important to plan for adequate circulation that will allow for smooth and unobstructed movement.

We are talking about creating a triangle connecting three elements: the stove, the refrigerator and the sink. The time you spend in the kitchen will be mostly at one of these stations. It is therefore important to consider the appropriate amount of distance necessary in order to provide a fluid and comfortable work flow between these areas.

The path of your daily life

Since tasks are performed daily and often repeated, it is therefore important to provide a clear and fluid path for the sorting of dirty dishes and the storage of clean dishes. It is therefore necessary to plan for a path that allow you to perform these tasks easily and efficiently.

After the meal, the dirty dishes go through the trash or compost bin, then go to the sink, before ending in the dishwasher. These elements should be near and in the same order, to create a natural and fluid movement.

The same goes for clean dishes coming out of the dishwasher. Cabinets and drawers in the storage zone should be near the dishwasher so that you can empty and refill the dishwasher in one easy motion.

The dimensions to respect


The island, countertops and cabinets are the main components of any workstation. The height will depend on your size, but the industry standard for the height from the floor to the top of the countertop is set at 36”.

You can provide a space on your island (to eat) that will be at the same height as this one, 36 ”. If you prefer to add a bar countertop to your island, you must adjust this area to a height of 42 ” from the ground. If you prefer to have a lower eating area, or the same height as a table, you will have to adjust this height to 30 “from the floor.

For the seats of the chairs, they will vary according to the heights of the island. Usually, there should be a 12 “clearance between the seat and the countertop.

Wall cabinets:

The distance between the countertop and the cabinets is usually 18 ”, however there is an industry trend to provide even greater clearance up to 24”. This cabinet height frees up the worktop and brings a lot of lightness to the kitchen. However, it goes without saying that with a clearance of 24 ” you will have to determine if sacrificing storage space is the right choice for your project.

Clearance distances:

For a clearance that allows fluid traffic between the cabinets and the island, ideally plan a distance of 48 ”. This distance will allow two people to work comfortably in a kitchen without stepping on toes or prevent insufficient space to move around when you open the dishwasher. But in many cases, space is simply not enough for such a distance. In such a case, it is possible to reduce this distance to the minimum, that is to say 36 “, while still being functional.


To plan your new kitchen, it is important to choose all your appliances before even planning the layout of the kitchen cabinets. The dimensions vary so much from one model to another or from one brand to another, that this step will save you a lot of time.

The bottom or base cabinets, which usually contain pots and pans, will measure  24 ” of depth, which allows most appliances to be inserted.

Dishwasher and sink:

You need a 24 ” wide opening to insert a dishwasher. For a simple sink, a 24” wide base cabinet will be sufficient, however, a double sink will require a minimum of 33” wide for the base cabinet.

Range and hood:

First, be sure to choose a range hood that will be the same width as your range. For the installation of the appliances, plan for the necessary clearances, according to the model which you will choose (electric or gas). The distance between the range hood and the top of the range will depend on your model. For an electrical appliance, a clearance of 30 ” will be required and for a gas range you will need to increase the clearance to 36”.  For extra care, always refer to your installation manual and specification sheet for minimum distances between components.

The fridge:

Nowadays, there are several dimensions on the market. They will generally vary between 24 ” and 36 ” wide. The depth of the devices will vary as well. Whether you want to be flush mounted with your cabinets or simply inset, you will find several models in stores that will fit in with the new layout and design of the kitchen.

Good kitchen renovation!