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How big is your kitchen?

Sometimes, it’s not easy to define a kitchens as small, medium or large. I meet with homeowners all the time who tell me:

I have a small kitchen.

My kitchen is mid-sized.

My kitchen is large, but I have the dining table in the space and two patio doors.


Some believe if you state you have a large kitchen, you’ll see dollar signs spring  up in your designer’s eyes. Not true. I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret. A designer, and especially one that specializes in kitchens, cares about the actual area you will use for food preparation.

In other words, it’s not the physical space that is the sole determining factor. For example, a kitchen that is 17 feet long by 12 feet wide isn’t truly a large kitchen if it also includes a nook or dining area within that same space, The space required for a table for four is eight feet by eight feet, which leaves the size of the kitchen closer to nine feet by 12 feet.

The number of entry ways and windows also have to be taken into account, as well as closets, pipe chases, old closed up fireplaces, or posts.

So how do you determine the space? Here’s my little trick.

Count the number of cabinets

It’s the cabinets that are the substantial part of your kitchen budget.

Okay, I concede in the large-scale luxury kitchens that the appliances can be almost as much, but for most kitchens, no other single investment range will come close, not the counters, the lighting, or the plumbing. Even if you added cherry flooring with mahogany keys and inlays in the above example of 17 x 12, that cost would still be much less than the cabinets.

So, in order to determine beginning budgets, I start here:

  • Small kitchen: less than 11 cabinets
  • Mid-sized kitchen: 12-16 cabinets
  • Large kitchen: 17-28 cabinets
  • Small country: 30 +

This tells me as a rough rule of thumb with a custom cabinet line, the cabinets for a small kitchen could be between $10,000–$16,000. The cabinets for a mid-sized kitchen could be between $17,000-$24,000 and the cabinet for a large kitchen could be $30,000 and up. A “small country” kitchen could (easily) be in the $45,000-$70,000 range.*

Does that help?

Until next time,





*For those of you new to the website, I always say that this is what I know for my area, which is a pretty expensive part of the U.S.  Your own experiences may vary based on location, quality of materials, and cost of living.

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  1. Definitely a small kitchen here – I had to put my microwave in the living room because there wasn’t enough space in the kitchen itself. I live in an apartment though, so the design wasn’t my choice!

  2. Interesting. That pegs my current kitchen at the high end of mid-size. However, once I remodel, it will rank at the low end of that spectrum. The size of my kitchen isn’t changing but I’m getting rid of all the ridiculously narrow, useless cabinets so although I’ll have slightly fewer cabinets, what I will have will be so much more functional!

    • There’s ALWAYS someone who is outside the curve!!! 😀

      Yes, you will have less cabinets, and as you have your design pretty much in place, I’m agreeing with you. Small cabinets aren’t helpful esp. when there is a lot of them.

      • Yeah, that’s me, gotta be the troublemaker. 😉

        I know you’ve seen my proposed plan; did I show you my current kitchen lay-out, too? Every day, as hubby, the kid and I get in each other’s way while making meals, snacks, etc, I think, “this won’t be the case once we remodel!” No firm date set yet but it *will* happen this year.

  3. Interesting that you judge the size on the number of cabinets rather than linear feet, Kelly. Off to count the cabinets in my under-construction kitchen to ascertain whether it’s S, M, L, or 1X!

  4. SoRefined says:

    I have to ask a really dumb question. How does one count cabinets? Uppers and lowers? Double and single doors? Full and half lengths? Do drawers factor in at all?

    Thanks as always for supplying real info about things! It really helps with expectations/keeping the daydreams in check.

    • Not a dumb question at all: I count each cabinet box section. You should be able to see a vertical seam between all the cabinets.

      It’s a bit more challenging when the cabinets are built in place or are custom units. In that case, I’d count any section with one or two doors as one cabinet. If two doors swing away from each other so that the opening is the width of the two doors together, I’d count that as one cabinet. Thus, a pantry section with four doors in width (could be 4 doors bottom and four doors on top but it’s the width you’re counting), that would be two cabinets to me. Five wall cabinet doors? I might count them as 3 units.