What About the Kitchen Work Triangle?
When you start researching how to plan your kitchen, the first item that will come up with the Kitchen Work Triangle. What this means is the location and spacing between the fridge, stovetop and sink. This space planning method was developed in the 1940’s to maximize the efficiency of the cook in the kitchen, while also starting to standardize construction and reducing costs.
This set of planning principles has many rules. Each item is to be no less than 4 feet apart, but no farther than 9 feet. All the sides of the triangle should not exceed 26 feet. Corners or other obstructions should not interfere with the triangle.
This planning strategy was great for a long time. But a lot has changed since the 1940’s. We’re not designing for single cooks in the kitchen anymore. Often there are multiple people performing various tasks – making coffee, chopping vegetables, using the cooktop, washing dishes, etc. Many families are wanting a more open concept to encourage the kitchen to be a social space. This means there are less walls to work with and we need to be more flexible and creative with our design.
So what’s the new strategy of kitchen space planning? Creating zones for each activity to happen in the space. Each family uses their space a little differently but the main tasks being performed are Food Prep, Baking, Cooking and Cleaning.
At the prep zone, you need a sink to wash and some countertop space to work. The baking zone needs a good deal of counter space plus proximity to the oven(s). To cook efficiently, you want to have at least 18” on each side of your cooking surface. To plan your cleaning area, you’ll consider your food waste placement, sink size and style, and dishwasher location.
There are activity zones, but there are also storage zones to keep in mind. You likely want to locate the dish-ware near to the dishwasher, as well as towards the eating area. Food storage can be grouped together – both the pantry and refrigerator. Don’t forget the cookware and bakeware, and plan for them to have homes close to where they will be used.
Then it is time to consider the extra activities that are happening in your kitchen. Maybe a small desk is what you really need to keep the family organized. Or maybe coffee is king in your household and an espresso station is a non-negotiable. Or maybe it needs to have a TV, a charging station, or a bar area. Those are the items to keep in mind to make the space really suit your needs.
Let’s agree that the Kitchen Work Triangle model had a good run, but isn’t applicable to the way we now use our homes. Plan your kitchen so that it best suits the way you live, move, and enjoy your space for many years to come.