How to Measure Your Kitchen
(And Other Rooms)
Good designs begin — and end — with accurate measurements. This applies to kitchens, but also to bathrooms, home offices, and closets. Measuring accurately is not complicated. Carpenters learn it in their first apprentice year. But there are a few tricks to it. Here is how to measure any room like a pro.
We are using a kitchen as an example because it is often the most complex room to measure. Reach-in closets have special measurement requirements, so there is a separate article on How to Measure a Closet.
Step 1: Measure and Draw an Outline of the Room
Draw a diagram of your kitchen that is roughly the same shape as the room, locating all windows and doors in their approximate positions. Write on the drawing the overall wall lengths of each wall. (See Diagram 1)
1. All of your measurements should be in inches. For example, if you measure a wall that is 10 feet, write it as 120 inches — a quotation mark (") denotes inches.
2. For doorways with hinged doors, draw the door according to which way the door swings. See Diagram 1 for an illustration.
3. If you are replacing your cabinets, do not include current cabinets or furniture such as kitchen tables in your measurements. However, take the measurements of any tables or other furniture you want to include in your new kitchen and give them to us on a separate piece of paper. If possible, send us photographs of these items. Their placement in the new kitchen is part of the design process.
4. Do indicate the precise location of the center-line of the current sink, range, walloven, and installed microwave. Indicate whether your range and oven are gas or electric. This tells us where the utilities come into the kitchen. If you have additional 230v outlets or gas lines coming into the kitchen, indicate where these are located even if they are not currently being used.
Step 2: Label and Measure Doors and Windows
A. Beginning at the top left corner of your drawing measure to the first window, door, or wall. Continue clockwise around the room until each wall, window and door has been measured. Remember, all measurements are in inches.
B. Beginning at the top left of your drawing, label the windows "Window #1", "Window #2", etc. in a clockwise order.
C. Again, beginning at the top left of your drawing, label the doors "Door #1", "Door #2", etc. in a clockwise order.
D. Next to each wall, write the name of the adjacent room. If the wall is an "outside wall" write "exterior wall." If the room is a candidate for expanding the kitchen, also measure that room.
E. As shown in Diagram 2, measure from the floor to the bottom of each window and also measure the overall window height.
1. When measuring the width of doors and windows the trim is considered part of the door or window. Measure from the outside of the trim on one side to the outside of the trim on the other side, then from the outside of the trim to the middle of the window or door.
2. When measuring the height of doors and windows the trim is considered part of the door or window. Measure the height of a door from the top of the top trim to the floor. Measure a window from the top of the top trim to the bottom of the sill.
Step 3: Identify and Measure Immovable Obstructions
A. Draw boxes in your diagram to show the approximate location of any obstructions such as radiators, vents, pipes, exposed plumbing, etc. that you either can not move or do not want to be moved. Label the object so we will know what it is: i.e. "radiator", "pipe", etc.
B. Measure the obstruction and record the width, height, and depth of the obstruction on your drawing. If the obstruction reaches the ceiling, omit the height measurement. If the obstruction is not in contact with the floor, measure from the floor to the bottom of the obstruction.
C. Measure from the nearest wall to the nearest edge of the obstruction. Measure from the point on the wall that is nearest the obstruction to the point on the obstruction nearest the wall. Measure from the second closest wall to the nearest point of the obstruction. Note these measurements on your drawing.
Step 4: Measure the Height of the Ceiling
Sometimes, especially with older homes, it is a good idea to take measurements in a few different areas of the kitchen. Ceiling heights, even in the same room, can sometimes vary by as much as several inches. Measure the ceiling height in all corners and in the center of the room. Write each measurement on the drawing at the place where the measurement was taken. Then circle the measurement. The circle indicates a ceiling measurement.
Step 5: Check your Measurements
Check your measurements. If your room is rectangular add up the measurements of the parallel walls and make sure they match (or are at least very close). For example, in our sample drawing, you would take the overall measurements of the top wall and add them together. Then do the same with the bottom wall. Once you have added each wall's measurements check the totals to see if they are the same.
*StarCraft Custom Builders gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Merillat Industries and Diamond Cabinets to this article. For more good reading, check out our complete articles index.