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Work Triangle Basics: Getting the Most Out of Your Kitchen

Even in a city as laid back as Playa Del Rey, efficiency can be valued as much as lifestyle. When it comes to the kitchen, where space can sometimes be limited, efficiency might even be valued more.

Efficiency in the kitchen used to be measured in steps; now it’s measured in minutes.

Mom grabs a muffin as she dashes out the door in the morning. Bobby races home from basketball practice and throws together a sandwich, munching it along the way to rehearsal for the school play.

American kitchens have to be equipped to handle this fast-paced, everyone-for-themselves shuffle, as well as other modern needs, such as multiple cooks, kids, and crowds.

As a result, the 40-year old commonsense concept of the work triangle (a path linking the three major kitchen components: refrigerator, sink, and cooktop) is undergoing revision. Even thought the basic concept is still sound, designers are beginning to talk about designing a triangle within a triangle to handle both large and small meals.

A secondary triangle, for example, might link a bar sink, the microwave, and refrigerator for frequent quick-fix meals. Some kitchen designers are advocating four separate work centers: a short-term food preparation area for quick meals, a long-term food preparation area, a cooking area, and a cleanup area.

In all fairness, the work triangle was a great concept when it was developed, but that was when the kitchen was a closed-in room with one cook. Now the walls are coming down. Modern kitchens are actually evolved keeping rooms that incorporate pass-throughs and an adjacent family room.

Everybody’s in the kitchen.

But even the modern kitchen will benefit from the basic principles of efficiency and effectiveness that the work triangle promotes, by minimizing wasted effort and time while cooking in the kitchen.

kitchen trinagle

Here are the basic design elements of the work triangle:

  • Keep the three primary work centers in close proximity 
  • Measurements should be made from the center of the sink to the center of the refrigerator to the center of the cooktop.
  • The perimeter of the triangle should measure no more than 26 feet and no less than 12 feet (according to the National Kitchen and Batch Association). 
  • No one side of the triangle should be greater than 9 feet or less than 4 feet. 

The triangle should not be interrupted by traffic or cabinetry.

The work triangle may not fit today’s busy lifestyles exactly, but it at least gives you the ability to measure, in one simple method, the effectiveness of a kitchen. That is its strength.




Featured Resource: The Four Most Common Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes

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Topics: Kitchen