Kitchen designing has revolved around the work triangle for years.
Glossy brochures and online kitchen design photos often have triangles drawn on them, assuring us the kitchen meets the standard for good design.
...Put a refrigerator, stove and sink in a triangle shape and you've got a great kitchen. Right?
Truth is, using only a work triangle as your only kitchen design tool will get you a great kitchen... if it was 1950.
Kitchen designing is more complicated now because we have more kitchen space with more people in it. And we have microwaves... And islands. And kitchen offices. And breakfast bars, wine refrigerators, and... well, you get the picture.
A work triangle is best used in a small kitchen with one cook and no other people using it, or walking through it. It's relevant today as a last check, so I recommend you simply refer to it after you design your kitchen around work zones.
Remember: the work triangle can prevent a terrible kitchen design...But it can't create a spectacular one.
So how do we design kitchens in this century? Activities and Storage.
It's not hard to design your kitchen, but you must follow a system, and a logical one!
To design your kitchen start by listing your daily cooking activities for the kitchen. This is the highest priority for your activities and storage, so it's done before anything else.
If you make coffee every morning, write down coffee, then write down whatever your hands touch to accomplish that task. At my house, the list would be:
dishwasher (the pot is washed nightly)
decaf coffee grounds
Tervis cup and lid or Thermos Insulated Mug (depends if I'm leaving the house soon)
All of these should be as close to one spot as possible, and doing so creates a Coffee Zone.
I'm not a betting woman, but I'd bet my hat that my list is different than yours. Which brings up the first point to writing this list down: to realize that everyone's activities are different, and so are your kitchen designing needs.
The second point is to actually see what you really use, on a daily basis. Why?
So you can be lazy, too.
First, when designing a kitchen, the most efficient layout is one that allows each entire task to be finished without walking.
"What? No walking?" you say?
Well... no layout would allow that- unless it's a very, very compact kitchen and you eat over the sink! (The camper kitchen my mom had in the 90's comes to mind...)
But we can minimize wasted steps to save time, energy, and frustration in the kitchen.
This is how a commercial kitchen is set up- in zones- to complete the work fastest and easiest. It's not that people are lazy, it's just that there's an awful lot of work to do.
Wouldn't you rather spend time doing something (anything, really?) besides trekking back and forth carrying things?
Bottom line: if you arrange your space around activities you do most of the time to be efficient, you'll end up with an efficient kitchen that you'll love.
By the way, another reason for writing the list is because you're going to need it to design your kitchen. So hang on to it! Each zone must have storage, and with your lists you can decide with confidence what kind you want.
It's time to get into the meat of the sandwich (pun intended!). What cooking activities do you do more than twice a week? Chances are that there are quite a few. Here are mine:
Kids' breakfast: cereal, toast, pancakes, eggs, fruit, or a combination
Adult breakfast: eggs or yogurt
Kids' lunch: sack lunch or sandwich or leftovers
Adult lunch: Sandwiches, fruit, salad, leftovers or Planned-overs (previously-frozen)
Snacks: Fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or prepackaged "goodies"
Dinner: Skillet meals, Oven meals, or Planned-overs (previously frozen)
Two more activities:
Meals are not Zones- there are too many varied tasks! So we break down the meal preparation in to sub-tasks. These are your Zones.
Yours will be different than mine, but yours will have at least these 3 core Work Zones too (I prefer to call them Activity Zones):
And probably many of these cooking Activity Zones as well:
I spend the most time prepping food, so the Prep Zone is my priority to be as efficient as possible.
In fact, most people spend more time prepping than actively cooking or cleaning.
Cheat Sheet: If you buy a lot of previously prepped food that you simply start cooking, you will want to prioritize your cooking and cleanup zones. Also, you'll want to keep your refrigerator closer to the Cooking Zone when most foods go straight to cooking without prep.
Want to learn more about kitchen designing? See all the tips and rules of thumb for kitchen interior design.
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