How to Design a Kitchen Space With Appliances in Mind

Shara McCuiston

Article Posted By: Shara McCuiston

of Woodshop Diaries

Shara McCuiston of Woodshop Diaries walks us through how to choose the perfect appliances for your next kitchen space renovation! Read the blog to find out more.

How to Design a Kitchen Space With Appliances in Mind

When starting a kitchen renovation, there are a LOT of things to consider. You’ve got layout, style, color schemes, cabinetry design, countertop material and color. But one of the most important things to consider is your appliances. A kitchen without appliances is, well, basically just a big storage closet with a sink.

Appliances are the heart of the kitchen, really, if you think about it. They’re the functionality. So when we got ready to build our new garage apartment, I designed our kitchenaround our appliances—colors, sizes, and functional layout.

First, let’s talk about color.

If you don’t spend your date nights wandering the aisles of The Home Depot like my husband and I do (which you should!), then you may not have noticed the newest color to hit the appliance section—black stainless.

While the lighter gray stainless steel appliances are still a popular choice especially for those light and bright kitchens, for those wanting a more modern and dramatic feel, the new black stainless is the perfect option. It’s not plain, solid black, but it’s also not your typical stainless, either. It’s got that nice visual texture that makes it look expensive…but don’t worry, it’s not ;)

In our new kitchen, I knew I wanted to go with the Whirlpool black stainless appliances because I was wanting to pair it with light wood and medium grey cabinets. I needed some contrast to prevent the appliances from blending into the cabinetry, so black stainless was a great option.

It really goes well with light to medium colors in a kitchen space as you can see here. When considering appliance and cabinetry colors, always think about whether you want your appliances to blend in, or stand out. I love this new black stainless color and highly recommend it for modern, or light to medium colored kitchens.

Now, let’s talk about sizes.

MOST appliances come in standard sizes. Typically your standard dishwasher (here is the exact one I went with and I highly recommend it… it’s SO QUIET and cleans REALLY well) will be about 24” wide, stove 30” wide (here is the exact one I went with and I recommend it as well), and microwave 30” wide (here is the exact one I went with, and again, I highly recommend it) give or take 1/8”-1/4”or so. But refrigerators vary. You can get them countertop depth or deeper, and in widthstypically up toabout 36”. So when it was time to lay out my kitchen cabinets, I needed to make sure the appliances I chose would fit.

Since I was building and installing my own cabinets, the spaces I left to install the fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave were slightly variable. But, if you have existing cabinets and are just replacing your appliances, these spaces are already set for you. It’s a good rule of thumb to leave about ¼”-1/2” extra in your appliance spaces than your actual appliance will be. So if your new stove is 30” wide, the opening for it to fit into should be about 30 ¼” to 30 ½” ish.

The same applies for your dishwasher and microwave as well. Be sure when shopping for appliances to go with your existing cabinets that you chose options that will fit the space you already have. On The Home Depot website, these dimensions are clearly listed on the product pages of each individual appliance.

With the refrigerator, I personally left a little extra on the sides to allow us to have room to scoot it back into place—not necessary, just makes things a little easier. I chose a 36” refrigerator that isn’t countertop depth to give us maximum storage. However, this did cause the refrigerator cabinet to be deeper than the bottom cabinets next to them. I don’t mind this, but if this bothers you (functionally or visually), then you may want to consider a counter depth option.

One other thing to note on appliance size is the height. When building my cabinets, I accidentally made them about an inch taller than standard. Standard countertop height in a kitchen is about 36” and I made mine about 37”. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, but when it comes to installing the dishwasher and stove, it kind of makes a difference.

But, I’m not building from scratch, you say? It’s still something to consider, especially in an older home where floors may be a little uneven. In our last home, we had to shim up some of our cabinets ½”-1” when we installed them during a kitchen remodel due to variation in the floor level, so we still ended up with 37” counter tops even though the cabinets weren’t “homemade.”

Why am I telling you this? Because I was pleasantly surprised to find that the feet on the bottom of my dishwasher and stove compensated for this error and still allowed me to keep my stove top even with my countertop. So if that is a problem you anticipate facing as well, don’t worry. The feet are adjustable up to about 1 ¼”. That could be life saving!

The dishwasher adjusted ALMOST high enough, but I ended up adding a little piece of trim along the top to cover a small gap that was left. Trim can cover a multitude of sins.

Last (but definitely not least) is the function.

You already know what each appliance does in your kitchen. But, have you thought about the efficiency of the layout of those appliances in your space?

If you are simply replacing your current appliances, this may not be something you can change. But if you are building a new kitchen or renovating your existing kitchen, you may want to consider arranging your appliances in a more effective layout.

Typically, you want to arrange your sink, stove, and refrigerator in a triangle if possible. However, not every space allows for this option. Mine, for example, is a one wall kitchen. I centered the kitchen around the sink, leaving the stove and the fridge on opposite sides of the wall. This may not be the most efficient, but it works well with the wall space keeping the stove and microwave on one side of the window and the fridge on the other. Otherwise, we would have to scrunch the fridge and stove next to each other on one side of the window.

So it isn’t just a concern for FUNCTION, but also one for DESIGN. You have to balance practicality with what’s also pleasing to the eye. When replacing appliances and/or renovating a kitchen space, it’s always good to evaluate how the space will be used and design it to meet your needs.

As you can see, appliances play a huge role in your kitchen design. And at the end of the day, you want to choose appliances that are the right color, and size, and install them in the layout that will best fit your day to day use.

But even more important is buying appliances that are the most reliable, hardworking, and best quality. I highly recommend these Whirlpool black stainless appliances from THD as each one was delivered in perfect condition, works great, and provides everything we need (and more!) for our new kitchen. I hope these tips were helpful and until next time, happy appliance shopping and kitchen renovating!

For more Kitchen Ideas, check out The Home Depot Blog.