The kitchen work triangle concept dates from the 1940s when the kitchen was largely used only for cooking and washing up. They say the triangle is the strongest shape in nature and as leaders in the kitchen design field, we can confirm that it’s just as powerful in the kitchen too. The 1940s were a far cry from the family social centre of today. It was also an era when kitchens were smaller and most appliances larger. Far from the ideal combination – but one that gave rise to a bright idea from the University Of Illinois School Of Architecture. They used scientific management principles to improve efficiency in these small cramped rooms, made worse by WWII when a shortage of housing led to mass production of pre-fabs and compact housing.
It’s defined by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) as an imaginary triangle created by drawing a straight line from the centre of the sink, to the hob, to the fridge and back to the sink. Simple, really. And very sensible, as the main jobs in our kitchens use these three appliances most. Respect the kitchen work triangle and you’ll have a space that’s much more of a pleasure to cook in. In fact, there are a few more specifics that experienced kitchen designers like us consider, developed by the NKBA to make your kitchen as efficient and effective as possible:
• To allow space for food preparation, the sum of the work triangle’s three sides should range between 3.6 and 7 metres, and each leg should measure between 1.5 and 3 metres.
• It’s recommended to leave around 30cm of work surface either side of your hob, 60cm either side of a sink, and 38cm either side of your fridge.
• The work triangle shouldn’t cut through an island, cabinet or other obstacle by more than 12 inches.
• No regular walk-through paths should cross through the triangle.
• A full-height item of furniture, such as a tall cabinet, shouldn’t come between any two points of the triangle.
• Work passages should be at least 110cm wide for one cook or 120cm if there are two of you.
• In a kitchen diner where nobody passes behind, allow 81cm from behind the diner to the edge of the eating surface, and if people pass behind diners, allow 110cm.
And you thought a kitchen was just a kitchen! Think about how many rules your kitchen is breaking – and then we can think about how to fix it for you.
It’s true that the kitchen triangle has taken a bit of a battering lately as modern designers have questioned its relevance to today’s culinary habits. Life was different when the triangle was invented. A lot of home-grown produce was used and bread was baked daily. Takeaway food didn’t exist and regular menus were very simple. Meals were eaten at a table and not in front of the TV. The hob, sink and fridge have now been joined by a whole host of new appliances. So, as times have changed, so have the rules. Now we apply the ‘kitchen triangle’ principles to different areas of new kitchens and create new triangles between new appliances.
As you’d expect, the larger your kitchen, the larger your triangle/s may be and the more steps you have to take between the various work areas. But with size comes potential – and a whole culinary world can open up. How about a baking area? A preparation station? A juicing bar? A place to cook sous-vide? Or even a sitting area to divide the space and keep your work triangle/s down to the correct dimensions? All this may sound like we’re running away with ourselves when all you want is a new kitchen, but our job is to squeeze every last drop from your space, and design a kitchen that works perfectly for your unique needs.
When we design kitchens we often start with the sink. This is the anchor point of any design and, even if there’s a second sink in the kitchen and a butler’s sink in the utility room, the kitchen sink is the central point of reference. Ideally, under a window or near natural light so that standing at it is as nice as possible. Even with our level of design expertise and a great dishwasher poised and ready to go, we can’t get rid of washing up completely! However, most houses are designed with the plumbing under the window, to make installation easier and keep costs down.
Logic dictates that you don’t place very hot things next to very cold things. Whilst modern insulation is highly effective, appliances such as microwaves should be kept by the cooker, fridges by freezers and so on. Plus, logic also tells us that we’re more likely to use appliances with similar functions at similar times. All things considered, good kitchen design can be like opening an incredibly complex can of worms, using a perfectly placed tin opener. Especially when we take other factors into account…
• How many people regularly use the kitchen?
• Do they often use the kitchen at the same time?
• Are they left or right handed?
• What appliances do you have now and planned for the future?
• Where should the bin be? Are there several bins, for recycling?
• Will you have an island, do you want seating and for how many?
• Any likely through-passageways?
• Do you want media such as TVs, music systems or laptops incorporated into the design?
• What quantity and size of storage will meet your needs?
• How about various lighting options? Lighting is a big part of modern kitchens; uplighters, kickboard lighting, over cupboard lighting, pendants over surfaces and mood lighting can all play a part.
• Are there any kitchen users that have disabilities or special needs?
The list goes on. This is where our Computer Aided Design (CAD) system really comes into its own. When answering those all-important questions to plan your kitchen, it offers a huge advantage as it allows you to see your kitchen triangle in advance – meaning you can make sure you’re as happy with its look, as you are with how it works.
The power of the kitchen work triangle simply can’t be underestimated. You might not notice how many footsteps you save on a day-to-day basis, but over the years (which our quality kitchens and design will make sure it lasts for) the benefits will be invaluable. Today’s kitchen is more than a place for heating food. It’s often the heart of the home, and a hub for entertaining family and friends. Kitchens are there to be celebrated – not hidden away as purely functional. A good kitchen design can ensure that yours is warm, well-lit and comfortable, having been developed into a haven for you to be proud of and make your own. With media and seating options, people spend more time there than almost any other room in the house, so it’s well worth investing in. After all, the right planning and execution can be as essential as any appliance – and fully considered kitchen design like ours can reduce time, stress and effort during breakfast, lunch, dinner and every party you host.