Work Triangle vs Work Zones: The Efficient Kitchen Layout

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The kitchen work triangle is an interior design practice that dates back to the 1940s. The ideology behind this layout is that you maximize efficiency in the kitchen by placing the refrigerator, range, and sink 4-9 feet apart, forming a rough equilateral triangle. This concept is best executed in closed or semi-closed kitchens. However, with the growing popularity of an open concept kitchen, homeowners and designers alike are finding that work zones are more effective than the work triangle.

In the past, kitchens were strictly used to prep and store food, and all the cooking was done predominantly by one person. The work triangle was the best choice for a kitchen layout because it guaranteed the cook proximity to all essential items. Now, the kitchen has evolved into a space of socialization and cooking done by multiple chefs at once. With more cooks in the kitchen, the work triangle becomes cramped and congested. Work zones allow several chefs to complete separate tasks in their own spaces.

Because of the evolution of technology, there are also more appliances in the kitchen now than there were in the 1940s. Many homes now include a dishwasher, microwave, extra sink, separate cooktop, and wall oven, in addition to the essential sink, refrigerator, and range. With all these additions, kitchen work zones are becoming the obvious choice for a functional layout.

To create effective work zones, start by grouping appliances according to their use. The four major tasks completed in the kitchen are storage, prep, cooking, and cleaning. By grouping similar appliances together, such as the microwave, cooktop, and oven in once group and the sink, dishwasher, and compost bin in another, you transform your kitchen into an effective work area.

Also take into consideration the necessary instruments used to complete designated tasks in each zone. For example, in your prep zone, you’ll want ample counterspace to accommodate knives, mixing bowls, cutting boards, extra sinks, and any other vital tools that fit your specific needs. If you host guests often, integrating a socializing zone with a large island into your prep area is a great way to entertain while still being able to put a meal together.

The storage zone is a perfect fit for your refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and cabinet space. You can create a cohesive kitchen even further by grouping your most-used food items together. Wire baskets and decorative drawers are a chic way to organize your storage into a streamlined system that you and your family will come to know as second nature.

In family-friendly kitchens, it’s imperative to design a zone specifically for children. This will create a safe space for your family to do work and activities while you’re prepping a meal or doing dishes. A desk with electric outlets for laptops and shelves for books is the ideal area for children to do homework.

For more tips on designing a family-friendly kitchen, read “8 Ways to Create a Stylish, Family-Friendly Kitchen.”

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