Today it is typical to have several cooking appliances. The recommendations for this center have been arranged according to the type of cooking and are excerpted from the book “Kitchen Planning,” part of the NKBA Professional Resource Library.
Because of the interaction between the surface cooking appliance and food preparation tasks, this area is often considered the primary cooking center. It should be located with consideration to the other centers, particularly the sink center. Cooks will move most frequently between the sink and the cooktop, and there should be a clear uninterrupted path between these two areas. This means that the cooking surface will often be placed beside, or across from, the sink.
Safety is a major concern at the cooking surface because there is danger of scalds, burns and fire. Several recommendations have been developed to keep this a safe area.
Consider the location and design of appliance controls. Controls placed at the back of the appliance may mean that the cook must reach over hot and steaming pots to adjust cooking temperatures, and should be avoided when possible. Controls placed at the front edge of the range provide easy access to seated cooks, but might tempt small children to manipulate them, if they are easily manipulated. Controls on the top of the appliance and/or to the side, improve access to most users.
Designers and clients are responsible for selecting products that consider the safety needs of all users.
If the sink is on an island, there may be a desire to place the cooktop beneath the window, the traditional sink placement area. If this is done, the window should not be operable. Trying to open a window by reaching over hot pots is not safe and drafts from the window can affect cooking performance and safety. Fixed windows or a glass block area might be a solution, but consider how hard this area will be to clean.
There should be a landing area on both sides of a cooking surface. Not only does the landing area allow for a place to put spoons, pot lids and ingredients to be added, it also provides a space to turn pot handles so that they are not hit by passing traffic. Unless the countertop is a heat resistant material, the landing area is not a place to put hot pots, unless it is an emergency.
There should be a minimum of 15 inches of counter frontage on one side of the range and 12 inches on the other. If there are various counter heights at the range, the 12- and 15-inch landing areas should be the same height as the cooking surface.
If the cooking surface is on an island or a peninsula that is the same height as the cooking surface, then there should also be 9 inches of counter space behind the cooking surface to prevent handles being hit and hot spatters getting onto people standing or sitting behind the cooking surface.
Occasionally, in a small kitchen, a cooking surface will be placed next to a wall or tall obstacle. This should only be done if it is in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions for clearances. This closed configuration will not provide an adequate landing area on one side of the cooking center and can restrict the size of pots that will fit on the cooking surface. If no other configuration can be used, then fire retardant and easy-to-clean wall materials will be necessary.
Ventilation and Clearances
A ventilation system is required for surface cooking. There are several different types of systems available. It is important to match the ventilation system with the features of the surface cooking appliance. Besides planning the size and style of ventilation, plan the placement of the ventilation system. Different cooking and ventilation appliance systems may have different requirements and manufacturer’s specifications should always be followed.