Kitchen remodels are one of the most common remodeling projects we complete. In many instances, our clients are interested in removing walls or changing the layout of the kitchen to better meet their needs. Because so much time is spent in the kitchen each day, it makes sense to have an efficient and functional layout. You wouldn’t want the fridge too far from the cooktop. Likewise, you wouldn’t want the sink to be on the other side of the island, away from the fridge. Keeping these three items – the sink, cooktop and refrigerator—within a space known as the “work triangle” creates the ideal efficient floor plan for any kitchen layout.
As you work in your kitchen, you naturally use the cooktop for preparing meals, the sink for cleaning up after those meals, and the refrigerator to store the leftovers. It’s easy to see how having these three task points located in a triangle would be the most efficient use of space. Because efficiency is key to a successful kitchen design and remodel, it’s important to keep this work triangle in mind during the design phase of your renovation.
The kitchen work triangle came to be in the 1940’s when kitchen designers sought to improve the layout of a one-cook kitchen. It is defined by the National Kitchen and Bath Association as “an imaginary straight line, drawn from the center of the sink to the center of the cooktop, to the center of the fridge, and then back to the sink.” This idea became common practice, which we still implement in kitchen design today. While it’s not a requirement for your kitchen, we certainly recommend it! Here are the main points to consider when designing your kitchen with a work triangle:
1. No one side of the triangle should be longer than nine feet or shorter than four feet.
Of course, this is more of a suggestion than a rule. Your kitchen will not be dysfunctional if you do not stay within these parameters. However, it’s a good idea to measure the distance to each task point to see if you are allowing too much space or not enough. You definitely don’t want to feel cramped between the three, or feel like you have a long distance to walk between them – either scenario can be annoying when you’re in the process of preparing a meal! A good rule of thumb is that the total perimeter of the triangle should measure no more than 26 feet and no less than 12 feet.
2. The triangle should not be interrupted by traffic or cabinetry.
Remember that efficiency is key. If the distance between your task points are correct, but you have to walk around an island or peninsula or reach across cabinetry, it might be worth a redesign. If your kitchen features appliances that are installed in the island, it’s a good idea to have maximum 12-inch space between your appliance and the edge of the counter. This will prevent you from having to reach too far over the counter, and also allows for convenient space for setting dishes, cooking utensils or food.
3. No major traffic patterns should cross through the triangle.
This is a very important point to remember. It might be difficult in small kitchens, but if your kitchen has the space, try to keep the work triangle out of the main walkway to prevent thru-traffic and overcrowding the cook.
4. Don’t forget to include adequate counter space around the triangle.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to have enough counter space beside each of your task points to allow for things like meal prep and dishes. If your sink is in the right place in terms of the triangle, but there is not enough counter space around it to conveniently stack dishes or set out clean pans to dry, you will have another problem to worry about!
If you have additional questions about the kitchen work triangle, or are interested in reworking the layout of your kitchen for improved efficiency, we’d be happy to help! Contact us today for more information on how to get started with your kitchen remodel!
The Medford Remodeling Team