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What is the Best Kitchen Layout? Is the Kitchen Triangle Still Relevant?

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

The kitchen triangle is a design rule that has been around since the 1940s to create a functional kitchen with minimal construction costs. The concept of the work triangle was created to decrease the cost of construction by standardizing practices, since at the time kitchens could be sold as a unit. While its original intention was to save money, the layout stuck through history as designers found it to be an efficient layout for many homes. The triangle layout for a kitchen ensures there is only a few steps between the sink, refrigerator, and cooktop where each item makes a point in a loose triangle and there are no obstacles between to interrupt the points. According to Homes and Gardens, each side of the triangle should measure no less than four feet and no more than nine to ensure the working area is practical and comfortable.

While most designers can agree the kitchen triangle is a good strategy, the modern family brings modern developments in functionality and efficiency. There is usually no longer one person in the kitchen anymore, and the purpose of a kitchen in the home has shifted from being a place to cook to a place to cook, study, and entertain with friends and family. Because many families may have more than one “chef” cooking at a time, the three points of the triangle are now more likely to be working zones. According to Susan Froehlich of Corinthian Fine Homes, the current trend in kitchen layouts is to divide your kitchen into five work-friendly zones.

Zone 1 is the cooking zone; this includes the wall oven, microwave oven, cooktop, and hood- aka large appliances used in cooking your meal.

Zone 2 is the cleaning zone; the sink is the focus of this zone, but it also includes the dishwasher and the garbage can.

Zone 3 is the consumables zone; this is where food storage is primarily located. The refrigerator and the pantry are in this zone.

Zone 4 is the non-consumables zone, this is where all of your items that are used for cooking and eating should go. This includes; pots, pans, plates, cookie sheets, serving dishes, and small appliances like toasters and coffee machines

Zone 5 is the preparation zone. The preparation zones primary focus is countertop space. The more uninterrupted countertop space the better.

The kitchen triangle is also not entirely applicable in every type of kitchen. A galley kitchen for example may not be able to see the triangle technique but remains functional and efficient given the space.

While Lizzy Laing of Renovation HQ appreciates the triangle for smaller spaces, larger spaces allow for more creative liberties to customize the space to your specific needs and work zones. When it comes to designing an efficient layout for your kitchen, it is best to envision your own cooking habits. Consider appliances you frequent, storage areas that tend to overflow, and areas where messes are common. Smaller prep sinks, walk in pantries, and hidden fridges are increasing in popularity to combat overflow of work zones. In addition, second kitchens are becoming increasingly popular in open plan homes to keep the clutter and storage out of eyesight and always leave plenty of prep space available. Visit our other blogpost here to learn more about these!

As Stephanie Summers-Mayer tells us, “You overlook a lot of interesting design opportunities if you focus more on the rules than the people.”

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