I’m DIY-ing…: Cabinetry Design

Cabinetry has a special place in my architectural heart. I love the opportunity to detail an item and create a beautifully designed space within a home. There are so many different styles, finishes and fixtures as well as shapes and configurations. I have listed below some generic measurements and tips I have learnt over the years of designing kitchens, vanities, wardrobes, laundries, studies, seating nooks etc. Everyone has their own way of designing but hopefully this will help you DIY-ers get started.

Lets start in the Kitchen, the hub of the home:

  • Bench heights can vary, they are normally around 900mm in a standard kitchen. If you are taller person consider adding 50mm or if you are shorter reducing by 50mm can help with comfort.

  • Depth is normally 600mm, I do sometimes add another 100mm when specifying a gas stove top due to the splash back I have selected (engineered stone or glass can be effected by the heat). Often when you select your stove top it will tell you the required distance from the center of the heat source to back of wall. Definitely something to pick at the same time if you can to reduce incorrectly specifying and having disappointments or needing to return an appliance.

  • Island benches; it can depend on your space. If you can only have a 600mm deep bench then that’s okay, consider something that may be a feature (butchers block style or recycled cabinet). If you can fit a 1200mm deep island do it! It allows for the best layout, you can have standard size drawers/cupboards on one side and enough leg room on the other. However a nice between size is 900mm.

    In regards to the length, remember to keep in mind the product that you have selected for the bench top. I prefer not to have joins in the middle which can occur if you select engineered stone. Different brands have different sizes, but generally the jumbo slab is the biggest. If you choose engineered stone most cabinet markers will charge you for the whole slab even if you don’t use the whole product (they have to order it in the standard sizes so that’s just how its quantified), keep this in mind when designing the spaces and always ask how much is left over as you may be able to upgrade the bench top in a powder room or bathroom vanity with minimum extra cost.

  • Waste outlets; In kitchens they are generally through the floor. Make sure that you but your dishwasher close to your sink as the waste outlets are connected to one another.

  • Drawers v Cupboards; if you have a sizeable budget for your cabinetry than you can skip ahead, but if you are like most then make sure you limit the number of drawers. Drawers are just generally more expensive than standard cupboards. Sometimes a great option is to put drawers along the wall you will see from another space, if you like a streamline look and then cupboards on the other side of your island or less visible space. I personally like the look of cupboards, you can design different sizes and styles but drawers can be better for storage.

  • Built-ins; built-ins are bins, a pull out pantry/herb drawers, cupboard fronted dishwashers and fridges etc. They look great and they are a favourite of mine but they cost more. If you are looking for cost savings consider the less built- in items the better.

  • Sinks: Undermount or overmount; basically you can only have undermounts if you have a product such as engineered stone. Therefore when selecting your sinks check how they are fitted (some have both options). If you do go for an engineered stone or similar remember the more cuts into the product (sinks stovetops etc.) the more you pay. Stone masons are craftsman and they keep those edges nice and unchipped, but you pay for their time.

  • Open shelves and overhead cabinets; when picking the height from the benchtop make sure to check your Rangehood requirements first just incase, they may have a special distance required. I personally normally go around 700mm above bench height and come out 350mm deep. You can go down to 600mm above bench height or higher if your Rangehood doesn’t have a required height to work efficiently. If you opt for open shelves (like the look above) and can’t afford the solid timber, a laminate option is a great alternative. When selecting check out the Chalk finishes by Laminex and ask for the matching ABS edging to get a seamless look.

  • Bulkheads; I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time I cleaned the top of the overhead cupboards! That’s why I love bulkheads, they remove the space where dusts/oils etc. can stick. I like tall cabinets so I normally take my cabinets to 2.4m high and then have a 300mm high bulkhead in a standard 2.7m high ceiling space. Bulkheads can be great for all sorts of things too, services like aircon, ducting etc.

Bathrooms vanities:

  • Benchtops; the height for a bathroom vanity is generally lower than a kitchen bench, around 800-850mm. This allows for washing your face/brushing your teeth comfortably. However if you pick an above bench basin, check that you don’t need to then lower the height of the bench its self, you don’t want to need a stepping stool every time you need to use the basin. I deduct the height of the basin from the 800-850mm to get the height for the bench when the basin is mounted on top.

    The depth is normally 400-450mm, you can go out to 500mm if needed for a special basin. It doesn’t need to be as deep as a kitchen or laundry bench.

  • Waste outlet; Something to keep in mind when designing your cabinetry. You don’t want to design or select a floating vanity and then have the waste outlet going through the floor. Make sure to check that the option you select matches the overall look you want in the end. Floating vanity, waste outlet through the wall or if visible select a nice bottle trap. Vanity to the floor, waste outlet can be wall or floor.

  • Drawers or Cupboards; now this can really vary. You have to remember the waste outlet from the basin above. If you have drawers directly under the benchtop they can be obstructed by the waste outlet and often end up with an ‘L’ shape or ‘U’ shape to fit around the pipes. I like to do a false panel under the bench and then have the drawer, this allows for them to be of full size rather than having to an odd shape missing. Cupboards of course are not effected by the waste and are a more cost effective option.


  • Benchtops for a laundry are normally pretty similar to a kitchen. 600mm wide is standard, you can again add an extra 50-100mm. I normally add extra as it allows for the washing machine and dryer to not stick out past the benchtop edge.

    The height again is about 900mm to allow for clearance over the appliances.

  • Waste outlets; The laundry waste normally goes through the floor. Make sure to put your washing machine near the laundry trough, they share their waste outlets as well.

  • I often like to put a mudroom space in the laundry, this allows for a specific area for school bags, coats, boots and sandals, dog leads etc. I normally put in a bench and then hooks with shelves above. The bench is approximately 500-550mm above the floor and about 500m deep.

  • Built-ins; There are so many options but some of my favourites are the built-in washing baskets and ironing boards. They will cost you more but it does create a nice clean looking space, often I’ll select a basket for the dirty washing and a basket for the clean washing. A hanging rail for when you are ironing is also a great idea.

    If you can’t afford the built in washing baskets, an option I do is pick a generic woven basket that looks nice and I make a space in a cupboard. You measure the height of the basket and then you can fit it in a tall cupboard or under bench cupboard and still create an organised space.


  • Desks are quite different to the rest. They are lower to allow for comfort when seated, 700-750mm high. The most comfortable depth is 800mm, this allows for computer space, keyboard, mouse and documents as well.

  • Finishes; they can really be whatever you want. Remember if you tend to be a bit messy with your pens select a benchtop with a fleck of colour through it, it can hide the marks a bit easier.


  • If you pick a stone benchtop I prefer to select a pencil round edge rather than a square edge. Less likely to chip/crack and not as sharp for those little one’s heads when they start running around.

  • If you decide to go for a laminate top there are few different options, post-formed edges (pencil round, square or bull nose) or matching ABS. If you do choose the post-formed edge make sure to ask your cabinet maker about the cost as sometimes you can pick up an engineered stone for a similar price.

  • Ask your cabinet maker about the mechanisms for your drawers and cupboards. They differ and some brands are better than others, as well as having longer warranties.

  • Handles/pulls; you can pick any handle you like. A handle can often be a more cost effective option than selecting no handle or finger pull. If you’re looking for a cost saving having a handle can be a good option. There are some great handle/knob brands or if you can’t find something you like ask your cabinet maker and they may be able to make it for you.

Hopefully these tips have helped you with your cabinetry designs. If you have any further questions please send us an email. Thanks again for reading!