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What is a Kitchen Work Triangle? 

For centuries, efficiency and functionality have been the focus of any kitchen design. Being able to get your work done quickly and easily is always the goal of anyone who uses their kitchen to cook and prepare for their family. While kitchens have evolved quite a bit to include many different cabinet styles and décor, the kitchen work triangle has been thought of for decades as the most efficient use of space. However, many designers have stated that the work triangle is now outdated, with more efficient uses of the kitchen space now available, such as workstations. Outdated or not, the kitchen work triangle is the forerunner to modern kitchen design, which many homeowners still find useful.

The Importance of the Kitchen Work Triangle

Originating as early as the 1940s, the work triangle was the ideal setup for busy women who used the kitchen for multiple purposes every day. The idea was to help home cooks maximize their small kitchen spaces by placing all the heavily used items, such as the fridge, stove, and sink, within close proximity of each other. That way, time wouldn’t be wasted and the path between these heavily used items would be clear and easy to navigate.

The work triangle was theorized down to a mathematical formula, with the ideal layout being 4-9 feet between the fridge, stove, and sink. Also called the “work saving kitchen,” the work triangle was considered the perfect kitchen layout for decades, augmenting productivity. Using the findings of multiple research studies conducted on kitchen efficiency, the kitchen work triangle became the architectural standard in the late 1940s for the ultimate in space saving.

The Advantages of the Kitchen Work Triangle

1.      By placing the fridge, stove, and sink next to each other, the kitchen space becomes highly efficient. Without wasting steps between each, you can cook to the best of your ability without objects in the way.

2.      There are different work triangle options for most kitchen layouts. U-shaped and L-shaped layouts are the best at accommodating a work triangle. 

3.      Everything is near at hand when a work triangle is in use, making your time in the kitchen as easy and effortless as possible. The fluidity of the space reduces traffic in the kitchen because everything is in easy reach.

4.      There’s much less cross contamination with the kitchen work triangle – with the sink, stove, and prep space all within a few feet of one another, keeping your kitchen bacteria free is much simpler.

5.      If you are a believer in feng shui, the triangle kitchen design is the best way to enhance your space and your life. Separating fire elements from water elements, or the fridge and sink from the stove, is the optimal way to express feng shui and bring positivity into your life.  

Kitchen Work Triangle – The Disadvantages

1.      Work triangles were designed with only one cook in mind. It is common for more than one family member to help prep daily meals, and the work triangle doesn’t maximize efficiency when the cooks are in each other’s way.

2.      While it works in many kitchen designs, the triangle doesn’t accommodate all of them, such as the galley style or extra-large kitchens.

3.      With new, modern layouts which include plenty of kitchen equipment, the kitchen triangle can hinder efficiency instead of helping it. What was designed as the perfect space saver for kitchens of decades’ past no longer works for up-to-date kitchens.

Is the Kitchen Work Triangle Outdated?

As times modernized, the kitchen layout became much more than a space to cook, and the work triangle has been considered somewhat antiquated for the modern-day homeowner. Kitchens are not the closed off room in the back of the house they used to be. They are now a central part of the home, open to the surrounding rooms, making a work triangle unfeasible. Highly personalized even down to the hood style, kitchens are no longer cookie-cutter and have room for any taste and style.

The updated take on the kitchen work triangle is the kitchen workstation. Each work zone is focused on one specific need, allowing you to use the most of the space and kitchen layout you have. With everything you need in each workstation, contemporary kitchens have become much more efficient.

Kitchen Workstations vs. Kitchen Work Triangles

Workstations eliminate the constraints of work triangles, focusing on the entire kitchen space instead of the three main appliances as thought of in the work triangle. Separating your kitchen into different work sites makes the most out of your space, no matter the layout. Maximizing space and ease of use while still looking beautiful is why workstations are the modern upgrade to the kitchen work triangle.  

The Most Common Kitchen Workstations

1.      Cooking- anything related to cooking goes in this area, like the stove and cabinets that store ingredients. Ideally, the cook zone should be adjacent to the prep area to eliminate the possibility of dropping or spilling foods.

2.      Preparation- usually next to the cleaning zone, the prep station includes a stretch of counter space that is necessary for preparing meals and other everyday tasks. Including the garbage can in this space makes it even more efficient.

3.      Cleaning- included in this area are the sink, dishwasher, and cabinets for storing your clean dishes and utensils. Nobody enjoys cleaning up after a meal, so making this zone efficient and useful means you can get back to what you really enjoy as soon as possible. One way to make cleaning time more enjoyable? Our custom tilt out for sponge storage by your sink!

4.      Food storage- the fridge and pantry would be in this area, making all your food accessible from one space. This should be close to the prep zone, so you won’t have to walk across your kitchen while preparing meals.

5.      Baking- if you bake regularly, having a stretch of counter space and cabinetry to house all your baking needs would be included here, making for an easy cleanup.

Of course, different kitchen sizes mean workstations can’t always be separated perfectly, and they sometimes overlap. For example, a workspace can be on either side of an oven, making the prep space and cook space intermingle. Keep in mind, you should do whatever works for your specific space and needs. If you have an extra small kitchen, you will have to bend the rules a bit to accommodate the workstations into the space.

Whether you think kitchen work triangles are a thing of the past or they still work for you, choose whichever kitchen layout works best for your home and your personal needs.

Leave a comment to let us know which style works for you, the work triangle or kitchen workstations.

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