How To Measure Your Kitchen For New Cabinets.

The first step in planning for new kitchen cabinets is taking measurements to see what space you have.

All you need for this task is a tape measure, a pencil, some scratch paper. It’s not important that your drawing be exactly to scale, but taking accurate measurements is very important to getting the exact size cabinets you will need for a successful kitchen remodel.

Step 1: What to measure first?

PRO TIP: First, draw out the rough shape of your kitchen. Include windows, doors, and location of appliances. A scaled drawing isn’t as important as accurate measurements.

Measure the overall length of the wall, and write it down. Always start measuring your walls from an adjoining corner if possible. Measure from wall edge to wall edge, getting the total space, ignoring appliances, fixtures and windows for the moment.

Your rough floor plan should look something like this.


You can see that my drawing isn’t all that pretty or drawn to scale. I just want the basic layout of the space and where everything is located. Then I will measure all the cabinets, appliances, windows and doors. (Note: D.W. stands for dishwasher.)

Step 2: Measure the Windows and Appliances

If there is a window you will be centering the sink on, measure from the wall edge to the casing of that window and note that on your grid. Then measure the window from casing edge to casing edge, then find the center of the sink by measuring from the wall edge to the center line of the sink.

Measure and mark any other windows in the kitchen. Any appliances or fixture that will not / cannot be moved, like a gas stove, an existing kitchen island, should be marked on the layout as well.

Step 3: Mark the fixtures.

If you have a sink that is centered on a window, start with that wall.  Clearly mark where all electrical, plumbing and vents currently are, they can all be moved to fit your remodeled layout during the construction phase if need be.

Step 4: Measure the ceiling height.

Take the tape measure to get the distance from the floor to the ceiling to get the hight of the ceiling.

PRO TIP: Ceilings and floors are rarely parallel. Measure at each corner and the middle of the room and make a note of the lowest corner.

Knowing this will allow you to choose the proper height you want your wall cabinets to be, based on the countertop clearance and if the cabinets will have any space below the ceiling or go all the way up. These measurements will also let you know if any major settling of the house may have happened. Make note of any soffits, recessed ceilings or any light fixtures in the kitchen that could impact the height of the wall cabinets

Your finished layout should look something like this.


PRO TIP: If you are a little more tech savvy or want to have a really cool and detailed floor plan, you can try out the FREE online software at Autodesk HomeStyler. You can design a full 3D rendering of your kitchen and view it from different angles. You can even email the finished plan to suppliers or contractors right from the program to get estimates.

Kitchen Cabinet basics to help plan out your new kitchen layout:

There are 3 basic types of cabinets;

Base cabinets (the lower ones): Standard Base cabinets are 24” deep (out from the wall) and 34-1/2” in height (so with a 1-1/2” counter top the height is 36”) and have a 3” inset for the toe kick at the bottom. Vanity Base cabinets are 21” deep and either 30-1/2” or 34-1/2” tall; so named because they are often used as bath vanities. These shallower base cabinets are useful if you are tight on space or want to make a kitchen island with a smaller footprint.

Wall cabinets (the upper ones): These are 12” deep and can come in heights of 30”, 36” or 42”. The reason for the variants in cabinet height is that ceiling heights vary and some people like to have the upper cabinets go up to the ceiling, others leave space at the tops of the cabinets, or want to install crown molding. When determining the height of the wall cabinets you will want to make sure there is 18” to 20” of clearance between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinets.

Pantry cabinets (the tall ones): Typical pantries come in 84”, 90” or 96” heights and are 24” deep. These units are great for flexible storage because of the volume of goods they can hold and more come with adjustable shelves or pull our drawer shelves.

Obviously the widths of cabinets vary greatly from 9” to as wide as 60”, depending of the purpose of the unit. Getting the most accurate measurements allows you to know exactly what combination will perfectly fill the space and efficiently place appliances.