The Kitchen Triangle

Is the kitchen triangle really that important? Well, for the most part, yes. The kitchen triangle is a time honored layout that dictates the traffic flow in kitchens. It is most relevant is a small to medium sized kitchen. So that a cook can efficiently work in the space, the kitchen triangle works to optimize the placement of the sink, dishwasher, stove and refrigerator in it’s design.

Just the right amount of space from one appliance to another with nothing to interrupt the flow in the work area provides the most efficient kitchen. The common rule states that the sum of the three sides of the triangle should be no more than 26. A greater number then this will waste time traveling from area to area.

The triangle in a large kitchen would often be out of sync due to extended distances between the triangle elements. It is often difficult to maintain the ideal triangle in many of today’s new and larger kitchens. Therefore the kitchen triangle need to be reconsidered and adjusted. This has dictated a new concept in large kitchen called “zoning”. This concept was once reserved for commercial kitchen designs but is certainly a required consideration in today’s large residential gourmet kitchen and is how kitchen design is evolving . Some alternatives in large kitchen is to add a second prep area with a an addition prep sink and maybe even a refrigerator drawer in an island. Do this can create a prep work “zone”, which reduces the distance between those points. This “zoning” also create separate and distinct work areas with a large kitchen that allows for shared kitchen duties.

I often will present a variety of different conceptual layouts to my customers and take the time to explain the pros and cons of the different approaches Many times these alternative layouts don’t really contain a true kitchen triangle and in many cases they would work just fine. I like to engage the client with new and different ideas that require them to think about other options. In doing so, together we come to a better understanding of the way they function, how their family works and what will suite their lifestyle. The end result is the client often gets more than they though they could and get what will work for them.

Surprisingly, a small kitchen is often more challenging. Older homes were not designed around the theme that the kitchen is the center of the homes activities. It was a single person work space. Also, older home kitchens were not designed to accommodate the number and variety of appliances in a modern kitchen. I have recently been involved in kitchen renovations that where to original kitchen had no dishwasher – a must today. Adding that one additional appliance in a small kitchen can be a challenge.

Small kitchens should follow the kitchen triangle principle for optimum efficiency. If the layout of usable walls will not accommodate the triangle placement of the major appliances then a one-wall design can work very well. A one-wall design provides for traffic flow behind the cook. The three kitchen components can be clustered together to help create, at minimum, one decent size counter top work area.

In U-shaped kitchens, the “classic kitchen triangle” is generally the best way to go and generally easy to achieve. Maintaining the triangle here, most often, accomplishes the most important features for kitchen functionally. Clustering of the three triangle points in a U-shaped kitchen is generally detrimental to functionality. Clustering may actually significantly reduce your usable counter space.

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