The Kitchen is the heart of the home and a major selling point of a house.  It is said that 3 years or approximately 6-7 hours a week of a persons life is spent in the kitchen, hence the importance of making this space a pleasurable and enjoyable area.

Kitchens used to be small, only containing the basic essentials whist being tucked away in their own corner of the house. Today kitchens are vastly different, with open plan living and a huge variety of different appliances and all the latest cooking gadgets at your finger tips. The demand for big island benches and butlers pantries is hot on everyone’s list.  The poky small kitchens of the 60’s is a thing of the past. Look out world, the kitchen is most certainly the centre piece of the home and something that needs to be done right!

Layouts and designs

There are several different kitchen layouts, each layout working best dependant on the configuration of the house and neighbouring zones / space.

kitchen layout types

These are examples of minimal sized kitchens commonly used in investment homes.

Points to avoid when designing or reviewing a new kitchen:

  • Poor layout and egress between habitable spaces
  • Limited natural light and ventilation
  • Dead corners and wasted space
  • limited storage
  • close to the entrance / front door
  • away from dining and family areas

Key points to achieve when designing or reviewing a new kitchen:

  • circulation
  • natural light
  • large prep area
  • 600mm+ on both sides of the cook top
  • walk in pantry
  • micro wave under bench or in walk-in / butlers pantry
  • appliances tucked away (not to clutter bench space)
  • breakfast bar
  • adequate power points
  • work zone/ area within arms reach of fridge.
  • fridge door not to obstruct egress
  • direct access to dining and family rooms.

These factors can affect the vibe of the whole house and potentially reflect in the overall value of the asset.

Aisle width can be as small as 900mm, the recommended minimum aisle width is 1000mm however, 1200mm is a better choice. 1400mm or greater creates a much more open and user friendly kitchen. 

For other design and layout options for your home refer to “Design & Layout”

Function of a modern kitchen

For kitchens to function well they require good egress and access between commonly used points (example, fridge, pantry, prep area, sink/dishwasher & oven/cook top) A working triangle is commonly used to represent this. Traditionally the triangle made by the stove, sink and the refrigerator to represent good layout however today’s kitchens have changed with extra appliances and greater use of the kitchen itself.  In today’s world the triangle method is outdated and kitchens are layout into zones or work stations.

Kitchens should be compact enough to allow convenient and effective circulation for the user. Although generous enough to allow two people to use the kitchen without bumping into one another.

Today’s kitchens serve as a social and functional /congregational area. Gathering and entertaining areas in the kitchen should be independent of the Work zones so that guests can nibble on appetisers, enjoy a drink, and watch the chef without getting in the way of the cooking.

Take into consideration the opening of doors and draws and how they affect the egress of the kitchen, avoid having doors that close off or block an area or path.  While some elements will most likely overlap in some areas, it’s important to control which negatively affect the user/s.

The sink, rubbish bin and dishwasher have an important linear relationship. Meal clean-up should be taken into consideration and not be at opposite ends of the kitchen. For instance, you should place your dishwasher next to your sink and a garbage bin nearby to streamline kitchen clean up.


A kitchens ergonomics should address more than just cooking. Unpacking of groceries can be overlooked, consider the set down location and dispatch of groceries. This is also reflected in food prep. The further the fridge, pantry and work space is away from each other the less functional the kitchen becomes. Keeping the fridge and pantry adjacent is a popular layout choice.  Providing landing areas next to major appliances is key for egress. Bench top landing area next to your major appliances increase efficiency and improves safety. Consider placing these areas adjacent to cook-tops, microwaves and ovens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What bench tops are the best?

Bench tops are broken down into two categories. Cost and Durability.Laminated bench-tops being the cheapest with a good range of colours and styles. However can be easily marked, stained or burnt. Laminate bench-tops do not hold value and will wear and can be easily damaged. Alternatively there are different types of stone or composite bench-tops. These bench-tops hold value and are durable and resilient to most stains. Stone and composite benches do not burn from hot cooking utensils making them a popular choice many investor and owner occupier homes.

How big should a kitchen bench be?

This can be a personal opinion but relevant to the size of the home and number of occupants, location and demographics. For example a single bench kitchen may suit a 2 bedroom dwelling in the CBD district. Alternatively a larger open kitchen suits a family home in rural area.

How deep should a kitchen/island bench be?

Standard cabinetry benches are generally around 600mm deep. An island benches can range from 800 – 1000mm wide. Stone work bench tops have a 3 meter maximum length before they require unsightly joins or huge price increases.  The most cost effective width for an island bench is 800mm and is commonly for in investment purposes. A 900mm wide or greater island bench is more practical especially when using as a breakfast bar.

How high are benches?

Kitchen benches should be between 850mm to 1050mm, with the most common height being 900mm

Where does the dishwasher go?

Generally dishwashers are located under the sink or close to water supply and drainage.

Where does the micro-wave go?

There are several places for a mico-wave  to be positioned with-in the kitchen. Ideally you want the microwave to be at a comfortable and safe height to access and positioned out of sight but still close to work microwave

  1. In allocated microwave cabinetry (underbench or over head cupboards),
  2. On the benchtop itself. This is can look very untidy and messy not to mention the loss of valuable bench space. (not recommended)
  3. in the pantry.

How big should a pantry be?

The minimum recommended pantry size for a 4 bedroom house is 900mm wide. Walk-in pantries and butlers pantries are great for extra storage space. Often an added selling point to a house and increasing potential profit margins. However these types of pantries can contribute to the overall size of house, increasing the overall build cost. Hence why these types of larger pantries are rarely seen in investment homes.

Ensure the pantry size suits the demographic. Generally family based homes require larger pantries.