No matter what shape your kitchen's in—whether your floor plan is straight, U-shaped, L-shaped, or otherwise—chances are there is a triangle at its heart. And if there's not, there should be. Modern kitchens have three primary work areas: the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. The work triangle consists of a logical, ergonomic arrangement of these three work areas to make kitchen work easier and more efficient. Designers from the National Kitchen and Bath Association recommend the following work triangle dimensions and suggestions:
If the three work areas are too close to each other, multiple people working in the kitchen together can get in each other's way. Too far away and your work becomes tiring and time-consuming. Each leg of the work triangle should measure between 4 and 9 feet in length. The total length of all 3 legs should be between 12 and 26 feet.
If you have the enviable luxury of a larger kitchen, consider including two complimentary work triangles in different parts of the kitchen, so multiple cooks can work together simultaneously. Since cooking has become more of a communal activity for friends and family, having two distinct work areas-- each with its own triangular plan—makes a lot of sense. Interior designer Lynn Schrage recommends extending the kitchen's functionality even further. "In HealthyHome 2010, we included a generous Kohler enameled cast iron sink in the mudroom," she says, "That way, everyone can remove their shoes and wash up before entering the house, which is not only tidier, but further reduces the amount of people competing for the kitchen sink."
Open trash bins, cabinets and dishwashers shouldn't block the path from one part of the triangle to another. Help keep the pathways clear by opting for smaller paired doors for cabinetry, rather than larger single doors that can swing out to create obstacles.
Your way and the highway
Major traffic flow shouldn't move through the triangle. Most kitchens double as pass-throughs from one room of the house to another. Make sure that you preserve a dedicated path that keeps your triangle reserved for cooking.
Find your match
Find your floor plan in the additional work triangle examples shown for ideas about how you can dramatically improve your kitchen's efficiency. You'll save time, energy and miles of extra steps.