Tips for a Family-friendly and Functional Floor Plan

Claudette Reichel  |  6/25/2008 2:18:02 AM

(See also Healthy/Universal Design section)

: Planned storage in each room reduces clutter and makes rooms seem larger. Evaluate both current and future needs (toys, games, seasonal decorations, bedding, records and files, electronics, etc.). Include adjustable shelving.

Include counter and cabinet space at the family entrance for recharging electronics, mail, shoes, coats, sports gear, backpacks, purses, etc. Include outdoor storage and security plans for outdoor items during a storm and for security. An unvented cathedralized type of attic (insulation under the sealed roof) can provide ample storage space in a clean, climate-controlled space.

Privacy: The front door should be more convenient to visitors than the service entry. Provide front door view control so visitors are visible to residents, but the family area is not on display. Consider sound privacy in space arrangements. Try to arrange closets as sound buffers, or add sound reduction insulations, between quiet and noisy rooms.

Workflow and traffic paths: Live an imaginary day in your floor plan, from morning through night activities and include all household members. Will traffic paths interfere with activities or furniture? Is it more convenient for you to tend laundry near the bedrooms, or the kitchen? What are the best places to do homework, pay bills, use a computer, watch TV, etc.? Consider both the present and the future.

In a two-story home, have at least one bedroom and the master bedroom on the same level. This makes the home more adaptable to changing needs and creates less of a burden when caregiving is needed (for a young child, aging parent, injured family member, etc.).

Kitchen Plan: For many of today’s families, the kitchen is the hub of the home - a work area, social area and the primary space of family interaction. Open planning enables a kitchen to fulfill all those roles, but it requires careful design to include sufficient storage, work areas and clearances for functional purposes. Use the following list of guidelines to develop a convenient kitchen plan.

Kitchen Design and Space Guidelines

  • Work triangle distance totals 15-26 feet (lines connecting center of sink, cooktop, refrigerator)
  • For multiple-cook kitchens, consider dual work triangles with a second sink and microwave oven (sink-oven-refrigerator triangle)
  • No major traffic paths cross through primary work triangle
  • No doors interfere with work centers, appliances or open cabinets or drawers
  • Work space aisles min. 42 in. wide (including clearance around islands)
  • Passageways min. 36 in. for one cook; 48 in. for two cooks
  • Upper (wall-mount) cabinet frontage: min. 186 in. (min. 144 in. for compact kitchen < 150 sq. ft.)
  • At least 60 in. upper cabinet frontage within 72 in. of primary sink centerline
  • Base cabinet frontage: min.192 in. (min. 156 in. for compact kitchen)
  • Drawer frontage: min. 165 in. (min. 120 in. for compact kitchen)
  • Storage aids to improve accessibility and functionality (sturdy roll out shelves, dividers, assorted drawer depths, etc.)
  • Functional corner storage (lazy susan, diagonal door, etc.)
  • 15- to 18-in. clearance between countertop and bottom of upper cabinets
  • Countertop frontage: min. 198 in. (min. 132 in. for compact kitchen)
  • No two primary work centers are separated by full-height, full-depth cabinets
  • Min. 24 in. countertop frontage to one side of primary sink, 18 in. on other side
  • If there is a second sink, min. 3 in. counter space on one side, 18 in. on other side
  • At least two waste basket areas (trash and recycle)
  • Edge of dishwasher within 36 in. of edge of sink
  • Min. 21 in. standing room beside dishwasher
  • Min. 36 in. continuous countertop space for food preparation center
  • Min. 15 in. counter space on latch side of a refrigerator, on either side of side-by-side, or on landing space across from refrigerator (no more than 48 in. away)
  • Min. 15 in. counter space on one side of cooking surface, min. 3 in. clearance from an end wall
  • Appliances located min. 15 in. from cabinet corners (so protruding appliance handles do not interfere with opening base cabinet drawers)
  • Cooking surface is not placed below an operable window
  • Min. 15 in. landing space next to oven and microwave
  • Bottom of microwave is below shoulder height of shortest user
  • Cooking surface has hood exhaust system (100-150 cfm)
  • If indoor grille and high cfm exhaust, a dampered outside air inlet is provided
  • Min. 24 in. wide by 12 in. deep counter/table space for each seated diner
  • Min. 36 in. walkway clearance around dining table; 24 in. if not a pathway
  • Operable window area
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters on all receptacles within 6 ft. of water source
  • Fire extinguisher located across from cooking surface (B-C type is best for grease fires, A-B-C is all-purpose)
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