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Two Ways of Optimizing Your Kitchen Layout

Posted in Design Advice

For your kitchen to be functional, it needs a proper layout. Let's learn about the 2 most common methods used in kitchen design!

When it comes to designing your kitchen, layout is one of the most important decisions you will make. You want to create a space that is functional for your lifestyle. A space that contributes to the flow of your work, rather than restrict it. 

Two methods designers often use when planning a kitchen layout are the working triangle method and the work zone method.

The Working Triangle

The working triangle is a design method created in the early twentieth century, when kitchens were occupied mainly by one person. The goal of this design was to increase efficiency and maximize space utilization without making the kitchen feel cramped.

What is the Working Triangle?

This method is based on the idea that the 3 main work areas of a kitchen – refrigerator, sink, oven/stove – form a triangle if an imaginary line were drawn from the center of each area to the next.

For this method to be most effective, each side of the triangle should be between 4 ft and 9 ft long. The total perimeter of the triangle should be no less than 13 ft and no more than 26 ft. This will create a smooth rotational movement between tasks in the kitchen without requiring you to walk too far between each workstation.

It is important to note that there should be limited obstructions to the flow of your triangle. If partial-height obstacles, such as cabinets, islands or tables are necessary, they should impede no more than 12 inches on your triangle.

What benefit does it bring to me? 

The working triangle system utilizes space appropriately, conveniently placing your three most important work spaces just a few steps away from each other. This will help with the flow of your kitchen tasks. This layout also typically leads to proper counter space located around the sink and major appliances in your kitchen.  

What are the drawbacks of the working triangle?

Perhaps one of the greatest drawbacks of this kitchen layout is that it was designed to be used by one cook in the kitchen – and that simply is not always the reality today. As our kitchens have become more of a gathering place than a utility room, there are often multiple people using the space at one time.

Creating a triangle in your kitchen design just for the sake of doing so is not always what is best. You may need to have more than one working triangle. Or perhaps, you may not need a triangle at all. Everyone’s kitchen habits and lifestyle preferences will be different. What is most important is that you design a space that works and flows with your life. Your kitchen should be functional for you!

The Work Zone 

A more recent, and possibly a more practical, kitchen design for your lifestyle is based on kitchen work zones.  

What is the work zone method? 

This design method puts emphasis on multiple work zones, rather than one work zone. Instead of focusing on the distance between the 3 most used appliances, the zone method splits the kitchen layout up by task. Each task then has its own work area containing all the tools that may be needed to complete that task. 

Popular Kitchen Layout Work Zones

  1. Food Storage (refrigerator and pantry)
  2. Food Prep (stove, oven, microwave, knives, cutting boards)
  3. Cooking (pots and pans, spices, oils, prep bowls)
  4. Table Setting (dishes, cups, cutlery, napkins, etc)
  5. Cleaning (dishwasher, sink, garbage disposal unit)

What benefit does it bring to me?

The zone approach is excellent if you often have more than one cook in the kitchen or have a space large enough for multiple workstations. It is a great way to stay organized, knowing that everything in your kitchen as a specific home. Most of the time this method can work simultaneously with the triangle method so you can get the best of both worlds!

What are the drawbacks of the work zone method?

Since the work zone method is completely customizable to your personal preferences and lifestyle, the drawbacks are limited. The key is, working with the space you have to design a system that works for you.

As you prep for your kitchen renovation, think about the spaces you use most in your current kitchen. Ask yourself, “What do I like about my current layout? What do I want to change? How can I implement some of these guidelines into my new design?”. Remember, these are merely suggestions, not hard-set rules. What is most important is that you design a space that best suits your lifestyle! 

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