Not so plain Geometry!

Posted by Glenwood Custom Cabinetry Glenwood Custom Cabinetry
Okay, if you've ever done any research on kitchens in depth, you've no doubt seen articles that describe, among other criteria, the "work triangle".  

Even Wikipedia has a page for it!  In it, they describe it as:

"The kitchen work triangle is a concept used to determine efficient kitchen layouts. The primary tasks in a home kitchen are carried out between the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator. These three points and the imaginary lines between them, make up what kitchen experts call the work triangle."

...and the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the leader and considered expert in Kitchen Design, explains it this way:

Like this:  

"Distance Between Work Centers: In a kitchen with three work centers*, the sum of the distances between them should total no more than 26 feet. No leg of the work triangle should measure less than 4 feet nor more than 9 feet."

...they also state that, "No major traffic patterns should cross through the work triangle."  ...and that can be really tough to avoid in most spaces.  In today's homes, the kitchen is the "heart" of the home; everything revolves around it, and everyone gathers in it.  Making sure that the flow of traffic and all main thoroughfares avoid the triangle is difficult, to say the least!

There are also more "cooks in the kitchen" and more non-food related tasks that take place there, too.  How do you adhere to all the regulations that make it efficient and still have it flow properly?  

Let's step back a moment and take a breath!  Take a survey:  what tasks do you perform in your kitchen?  In mine it's everything from cooking to homework to barista to tending bar!'s important to determine what's to be done and where it can be done prior to organizing the plan.

Okay, so this is NOT my kitchen.  Mine is not 20' x 30'.  But you can see how organizing your tasks can really sort the placement of things and effect the flow of the space.  

I love the "coffee station at the same end of the kitchen as the seating (especially with the refrigerator drawers in the island for my cream!)  this enables the homeowners to have a quick breakfast on a weekday without opening up the entire kitchen.  cups, glasses and even cereal could all be stored at this end of the kitchen and you're in and out in a flash on busy mornings!  

...but I think the "prep" area is mislabeled...I would definitely call this the clean up area.  I prefer a larger sink for clean up than prep, and it's a bit far from the main fridge.  (of course, you could put food that needs to be prepped in the island refrigerator, but I'd rather use if for the cream and condiments because it's so close to the seating)

(I would probably rather the "bar" sink be a prep sink and placed a bit more towards the "buffet" so I have space to spread out.)

...I'd also reverse the location of the fridge and the wall ovens so that I can easily move a hot item out of the oven and onto the adjacent countertop, as opposed to turning into a main walk area to put in on the "buffet" behind me.

Lastly I'd add some storage behind the island for the kids backpacks/textbooks so we can set the habit of doing and storing homework in the same place every day.

...but I think you start to see my point:  there's a LOT going on and if we can organize it properly everyone can get in and yet still stay out of each other's way.  

...and on the subject of getting in the way, here's another concept:  a triangle for everyone!

This image, thanks to Architectural Graphic Standards, shows the beauty of designing with the clients in mind.  
Here is a kitchen in which two people have expressed an interest in cooking at the same time.  Having separate zones for each means that they are never a hindrance to one another, even in what is really a very small space!

Here's a great plan that doesn't use additional sinks or refrigeration to achieve multiple zones; it simply achieves it by thoughtful placement!
 A double bowl sink with the dishwasher left serves as both the "clean up" area to its left and the "prep" area to its right.  The proximity of the refrigerator and microwave is key, too, as this allows a non-cook to access both items without interrupting the cook, but I would probably place the refrigerator where the pantry is (by the entrance) with the microwave on that side of the island.  This would enable the chef to grab food, prep and cook in a "consecutive" work pattern.  ...And the "bar" is on the back side of the same island, so entertaining can flow smoothly.

So you can see how important it is to know how you will work in a space before the plan is laid really helps to put all the 'puzzle pieces' together!