Dreaming up designs for a new kitchen or patio is the fun part of the home improvement project. But spending hours with our heads in the clouds without knowing what is actually possible can set us up for disappointment. Getting familiar with some basic standard measurements can help you dream efficiently and plan accordingly.
Contractors can rattle off a list of standard measurements, but you aren’t necessarily going to catch them all when you meet. Having a few references at hand will help you in your search, and it will give you a base against which to compare the need for exceptions and for non-standard, custom (i.e. very expensive) cabinets.
Several measurements* are standard and will be the same for any kitchen. Here are a few basic kitchen design numbers, which would apply to both indoor or outdoor kitchens.
Counter height: 36”
Counter depth (from edge to backsplash): 25”
Distance between large appliances: 36” minimum, 84” (7 feet) maximum
Island height: 36” without seating, up to 42” (standard bar height) with seating
Stool height: Depending on island height, with 10” distance between top of stool and bottom of counter overhang.
Sink height (from floor to bottom of the sink): 29” to 36”
Landing area (food-prep space next to sink or stovetop): 18” minimum (ideally. 12” in a pinch)
Wall mounted microwave: 54” from floor
Wall mounted cabinet (bottom) to countertop: 15” to 18”
Work Aisle (where a cook stands and prepares food): 42” minimum
Walkway: 36” minimum (note: this is double the amount of space interior designers say is the minimum walking space between furniture pieces)
*These measurements are for able-bodied, average-height adults. For information on wheelchair accessible kitchens, see this page for home inspectors.
Outdoor kitchens will follow the same standard measurements as indoor kitchens. Here are some numbers for some patio-specific special additions like seating walls.
Seating wall height: 18” is the average height but this can be adjusted
Seating wall width: 12” minimum
Patio size: can vary widely. Living room type patio: 16-18 feet
Outdoor kitchen size: can vary. Minimum for a patio table is 12-14 feet for a 48” round table. 4 feet of clearing from each side of the table is a comfortable distance
Patio table standards: 18-24” per place setting. 6”-12” between place settings
Patio table height: 28”-36” tall. 10” between chair seat top and table bottom
Fire pit: 12” to 20” high
Outdoor furniture: 36” of clearing between pieces but can vary. Always leave at least three feet between any furniture and a pool’s edge.
Know your measurements
Flipping through catalogs and surfing through beautiful renovation sites can send our imaginations into the stratosphere. Knowing some of the hard facts like measurements, while not as dream-inducing, can help us avoid soul-crushing disappointment later. Ask your contractor for any handouts or information they can provide you to help you in your search.