A Kitchen is a room for cooking and preparing food that is 80 square feet or more and a kitchenette is under 80 square feet according to the New York City Building Code. There are different code requirements for kitchens and kitchenettes.


Kitchen VS Kitchenette

New York City Building Codes identify 2 types of residential kitchens. One is a kitchen and the other is a kitchenette. Both are considered full kitchens by any other standard. The difference between kitchen and kitchenette according to the code is a kitchen is 80 square feet or more and requires a window whereas kitchenettes are under 80 square feet and require a window or mechanical ventilation.


Kitchen Code NYC

  • If the kitchen is 80 square feet or more, it is a kitchen and not a kitchenette.
  • Kitchens must have a window.
  • A kitchen qualifies as a habitable space and therefore must comply with light and air requirements (see explanation below).
  • The kitchen Does Not require a smoke soffit.



the photo below is of a kitchen in a Brooklyn Townhouse we renovated. This is a kitchen because it is over 80 square feet and has no smoke soffit, therefor it requires an operable window as you can see it has.

Kitchen NYC Code definition

Kitchen NYC Code definition


What is a Kitchenette?

According to the New York City building code a kitchenette is a room or space for preparing food that is under 80 square feet.


Kitchenette Code NYC

  • If a room for cooking and preparing food is under 80 Square feet, it is a kitchenette according to NYC building codes.
  • Kitchenettes must have a window or mechanical exhaust whereas a full kitchen must have a window.
  • A kitchenette does not qualify as a habitable space and therefore does not have to comply with light and air requirements.
  • Kitchenettes do not require mechanical ventilation if it has a window (although mechanical ventilation is a good idea)
  • The kitchenette requires a smoke soffit (see explanation below).



The picture below is of a kitchenette in a Manhattan Apartment we renovated. It is under 80 square feet therfore it is a kitchenette and has a smoke soffit. Additionally it does not have a window therefore a mechanical exhaust is provided.





A Kitchen must have a window where the glass surface area is at least 10% of the kitchen floor area.


A Kitchen must have an operable window where the clear open surface area is at least 5% of the kitchen floor area.


Kitchenette Codes VS Kitchen Codes NYC

As an architect I study building Codes and New York City regulations closely, but these are complicated and quite involved. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to Kitchenette vs Kitchen Codes. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Kitchen vs Kitchenette.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can Contact Fontan Architecture directly.




Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.

  • Sarah Poist says:

    Hi Jorge,
    Thank you for this information. The article helped to clarify this portion of the code. I have a galley style kitchen I’m looking to renovate, approximate 7′ wide by 10′ long in NYC. The kitchen is located in the middle of the apartment with a vent located in the ceiling. One wall abuts a bedroom and the other a living room. The third wall is the party wall to the adjacent building. I’m concerned if I renovate, the building dept will flag this as an issue since it does not have access to natural light/window. Do you have any advice on how I can address this in the drawings as an existing condition?

    • These things can be complicated and need to be assessed on a case by case basis. You need to hire an architect. If you would like to speak to an architect, give our office a call at (212) 321-0194.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Contact Fontan Architecture

    If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact our office and we can discuss your project. Fontan Architecture is a full service architecture firm working on a wide range of project types. Thank you and good luck on your upcoming project. 

    Contact Us