Episode 45: Kitchen Design Essentials – Internal Elevations & Joinery Design

Frances is pretty passionate about internal elevations making or breaking the outcome of your home, which is definitely apparent in this episode of the podcast. She outlines what internal elevations are, what advantages they provide, and further, what can go wrong if you don’t have proper internal elevations for your kitchen.

Without them, it’s like asking your builder to navigate without a map!

In this episode, you’ll get to understand why they are so important and how critical they are to you getting your kitchen design right.


So often we see people not fully understanding the investment benefit in having detailed Internal Elevations and Joinery Design completed for their kitchen (and their home)

In today’s episode, Frances outlines what you can achieve in completing internal elevations and joinery drawings before the build starts. She covers;

  • What are internal elevations and how they make a difference and why they are critical for so many reasons
  • How they serves you and your builder
  • How not having them can lead to expensive mistakes and design disappointments
  • The difference between cabinetry drawings and joinery design

Cabinetry Drawings vs Internal Elevations

Cabinetry drawings show the joinery only, while internal elevations show everything that you will see when facing the wall front on. Think, splashbacks, appliances, tap position etc.

What are Internal Elevations?

While floorplan gives you an aerial view of the design, Internal Elevations will show you the detail front on..  Typically, there are four internal elevations for each room showing each wall and what you can see on that wall as if you are facing it.

  • It provides specific details such as;
  • Size and placement of cabinetry
  • Design and construction notes
  • Detailed joinery design- i.e Is it floating?
  • Placement of taps
  • Tile layout
  • Accessory placement
  • Handle details
  • Anything else that is visible front on

When working from floorplans only,  you, nor your builder can see what is required.

Things that can’t be seen in a Floorplan but ONLY shown in on Internal Elevations;

  • Are you having cupboards, drawers, how deep, how wide, floating height of cabinetry
  • Benchtop thickness, waterfall edges and shadow lines
  • The extent of splashback, tiling, feature walls and skirting tile
  • Any overhead cabinetry, or shelving, thickness and placement
  • Fireplace detail, location, height, surround
  • Location of heating and cooling ducts
  • Some homeowners feel they can easily instruct the cabinet maker or builder onsite.
    • Cabinet makers are not designers perse. They have great ideas, but may not take into consideration your lifestyle and functionality requirements.
    • Can lead to lots of issues onsite, and miscommunication about what’s actually wanted.

Why are Internal Elevations so important?

  • Allows you to have an understanding of how the proposed spaces and rooms will look.
  • Helps you visualize, and assists you in making decisions on the location of cupboards, windows, doors, and power points.
  • By knowing the position of all the critical items in the room, it allows you to make other dependent decisions such as wall finishes, doors, and windows.
  • Lack of good internal elevations leads to unnecessary guesswork on-site for the builder, owner, and contractors. Everyone is looking for answers on how to build and detail certain elements of your home.
  • Fair too often we see people with only floorplans showing the aerial view of their cabinetry layout, or internal elevations with minimal design detail which opens up so much room for error, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding about expectations on the final outcome.
  • Cabinetry to fit a space without any design consideration around functionality and needs for space is also not design.
  • It’s a costly exercise to get wrong.

Here are some of the ADVANTAGES for investing in good internal elevations.

  1. Allows you to manage, assess, tweak and finalise exactly what is being built before it is built.
  2. Gives you visualisation to make a sound and informed decisions.
  3. Fixed price quoting – The builder can quote a fixed price because he can see exactly what’s going on.
  4. Build accuracy – The builder knows exactly what he needs to build and he knows exactly what is expected of him. He can see the detail and not have to guess or assume anything.
  5. Less stress – All details are finalised at plan stage so you’re not being rushed to make decisions and being asked things you don’t know enough about.
  6. Minimise overwhelm – It’s all been decided well before the builder starts.
  7. Manage costs – Able to make changes if needed, before the building starts, minimizing variations
  8. Mitigate mistakes – Everything is detailed on the drawings which means all parties know what is required of them. And you’ve had time to explore options  to make the right decisions.
  9. Saves you time – Minimise the amount of calls from the builder to seek clarification.
  10. Holistic  approach – All the people that are working on your project are working together according to your master plan. When done well, internal elevations may show impacts on spaces or other rooms and being able to have conversations up front to make tweaks and changes for the best overall outcome.

Here are some of the DISADVANTAGES for not investing in good elevations.

  • Some believe that they can instruct the builder and cabinet maker on all the joinery details
    • Think they will save money by not investing in elevations
    • Instructing them at build stage, often with the frame already completed, has a knock on effects of joinery design on others areas such as windows, or doors which  are generally too late to change.
    • Compromises are already occurring
    • Increases cost when variations occur on site

How do we do Internal Elevations at White Pebble Interiors?

  1. Briefing Session
  • What’s important to you,
  • What functionality requirements you have
  • What’s the look and feel you want
  • Detailed Deep Dive Needs Assessment Allows us to understand your lifestyle
  • How you use your kitchen
  • What you need to access to
  • What you need to store
  1. We analyse the Brief and Deep Dive documents. We consider the space, and set about designing with functionality and flow in mind, and how that will meet your needs.
  1. We think, collaborate and consult with you so we design something that will fulfill your functionality requirements and your vision.
  1. We discuss our Design Rationale with you, highlighting why the design is the way it is, what factors were considered in our approach, and how certain aspects may work better in some layouts than others.
  1. It’s easy to fill a space with cabinetry, but it’s the thinking behind the design that sets homes apart and make them function in the best way possible. Design can look amazing but if it does not work it is a waste design– Functionality is KING.
  2. This arms you with the information you need to make informed decisions. The right decisions for you and your lifestyle.

Available Services


Ready to renovate or build your kitchen but not sure where to start?

Get the help of a property expert and save yourself from making costly mistakes with a free Forever Home chat. Click here to get access to Frances’ calendar;


Ready to design and create your own beautiful kitchen?

Get all the interior designer insider knowledge in this online course to create your dream kitchen.

Join the waitlist so you’re the first to know about this course;


Overwhelmed by the amount of decisions that need to be made when creating a stylish, functional and durable kitchen? What materials to select, what colours will co-ordinate together, what design is going to best suit the space, and your requirements.

We offer kitchen design packages that include joinery design and material selections for a complete kitchen design. Click the link here to find more.

Related Resources:

Read our latest blog on Internal Elevations and Joinery Design here.

Episode 43: Kitchen Design Essentials – Flatpack Vs Custom Designed Kitchens

Episode 41: Kitchen Design Essentials – Cabinetry Materials

Episode 39: Kitchen Design Essentials – Splashbacks

Episode 38: Kitchen Design Essentials-Benchtop Criteria and Materials – Part 2

Episode 36: Kitchen Design Essentials – Benchtops part 1 

Episode 14: Forever Home LIVE- Joinery Drawings and Why Do Them Early On

Episode 30: Kitchen Design Essentials -Kitchen Design Layouts and Location

Episode 32: Kitchen Design Essentials – The Builder’s Insight 

How to Choose the Right Bench Top

Top 5 tips for selecting benchtops

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