The L-Shaped Kitchen Layout

Tips and Details for Designing an Efficient Corner Space in Your Home

The L-Shaped Kitchen Layout
The L-Shaped Kitchen Layout. Chris Adams, copyright 2008, Licensed to About.com

The L-shaped kitchen layout is a standard kitchen layout suitable for corners and open spaces. With great ergonomics, this layout makes kitchen work efficient and avoids traffic problems by providing plenty of counter space in two directions.

The basic dimensions of an L-shaped kitchen can vary, depending on how the kitchen is divided. This will create multiple work zones, though for optimal use one length of the L-shape should be longer than 15 feet and the other no longer than eight.

L-shaped kitchens can be constructed in any number of ways, but it's important to consider the foot traffic expected, need for cabinets and counter space, the positioning of the sink in relation to walls and windows, and the lighting arrangements of the kitchen before building a corner unit into your home.

Basic Design Elements of Corner Kitchens

Every L-shaped kitchen contains the same basic design elements: a refrigerator, two counter tops perpendicular to one another, cabinets above and below, a stove, how they all are placed in relation to one another, and the overall aesthetic of the room.

The two countertops should be built with the tops of the counters at the optimal counter-top height, which should typically be 36 inches from the floor, however this standard of measurement is in relation to the average American height, so if you're taller or shorter than average, you should adjust the height of your countertop to match.

Optimal cabinet heights should be used unless special considerations exist, with base cabinets at a minimum of 24-inches deep and possess an adequate toe kick while upper cabinets should be used where additional storage space is needed with none placed above the sink.

The placement of the refrigerator, stove, and sink should be taken into account before building starts, so be sure to design and develop your kitchen work triangle in relation to the design of your overall kitchen and what you'll be using it for most.

The L-Shaped Kitchen Work Triangle

Since the 1940s, American home makers have designed their kitchens to all be arranged with the work triangle (fridge, stove, sink) in mind, and now that gold standard has been perfected to dictate that within this triangle, there should be four to seven feet between fridge and sink, four to six between sink and stove, and four to nine between stove and fridge.

In this, the refrigerator's hinge should be placed on the outside corner of the triangle so it can be opened from the center of the triangle, and no object like a cabinet or table should be placed in the line of any leg of this work triangle. Further, no household foot traffic should flow through the work triangle during dinner preparation.

For these reasons, one could also consider how open or wide the L-shape is. An open kitchen allows any through traffic corridors to skirt the kitchen work zone while a wide variation adds a kitchen island or table — which should be at least five feet from the counter-top. ​Lighting levels from fixtures and windows will also play a major role in the placement of the kitchen work triangle, so keep these in mind as you draft a design for your perfect kitchen.