You've probably heard of the kitchen work triangle. The theory goes that as the major working areas of any single-cook kitchen--like the one in your home--are the sink, the refrigerator and the hob, those three spaces should be arranged in a triangular fashion at the design stage. If they're too far apart, you waste time and steps running around while you cook; if they're too close together they make your kitchen feel cramped and unworkable, and should you get anyone to help you with a meal you'll constantly feel like they're in your way.
The theory is sound. The thing is, though, it dates back to the 1940s when kitchens were small and appliances were large--and most people had either a dedicated dining room or a dining table set up as a focal point of their living room, meaning that kitchens were thought of as a space only for cooking. Chances are that the focal point of your living room is a television, and that your kitchen is sometimes used as a space for working or eating or socialising--all things that have different requirements to cooking. You probably don't spend the 40+ hours a week on cooking, cleaning and household chores that 1940s housewives did, either! The rules we're using to design our kitchens still contain a few nuggets of helpful advice, but they're far from being the hard-and-fast ironclad recommendations they used to be.
So how can you fit a kitchen work triangle into your kitchen design in a way that's actually helpful for you in a living, breathing modern home?
- Think About Your Kitchen's Purposes You're probably using your kitchen for things other than cooking, so give a little thought to what those things are. Do you need to set up a home office space in there, or somewhere for the kids to do their homework? Will it be your main dining or entertaining space, or would you like to have your home bar in your kitchen? Whatever you need your kitchen to do, there's a way to incorporate it into your design--you just need to figure it all out in advance.
- Make A Second Triangle It's becoming ever more popular to incorporate not one but two kitchen work triangles into a kitchen design. There's the traditional triangle--stove, sink, fridge--and the modern triangle, which is comprised of the microwave, the dishwasher and your favourite plug-in appliance. Both of these triangles are essential, and the theory behind them goes that your kitchen works more smoothly if they don't overlap.
- Keep Your Movement Areas Empty Perhaps the most important thing is letting yourself have enough room to move around in. The basic concept of the triangle is sound: it feels like a more natural way to move around inside a space than an L-shape. Make sure you keep your triangles clear by keeping other things--like islands, tables, chairs and kitchen carts--out of them. You'll find it a much easier way to cook.