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How to Organize Your Kitchen Using the 5-Zone Method

Efficiency and ease of use are always important when planning your kitchen design. The 5 kitchen zones arrange your kitchen in the most ideal way and can be further customized to your unique lifestyle.

The 5 zones are:

  1. Cooking
  2. Prep
  3. Cleaning
  4. Consumables
  5. Non-consumables

How closely the zones are to each other and how well they work together directly impact the efficiency and functionality of your kitchen.

We asked our Fabuwood kitchen specialists, and they highly recommended the 5-zone method as the ideal way to plan your kitchen design. It will make your kitchen more open, airy, and easy to use. Plus, it allows for more than one person to work in the kitchen at a time, perfect for the modern family.

What are the 5 Kitchen Zones?

Kitchen icons

The 5 zones include cooking, prep, cleaning, consumables, and non-consumable zones. Here’s what needs to be included in each zone for optimal efficiency:

The Prep Zone

It's important to have lots of counter space in the prep zone so you can spread out while you are chopping and mixing. Utilize storage space in your non-consumable zone nearby for knives, cutting boards, and mixing spoons and bowls so you never have to go far while prepping.

The key is to reduce the number of steps taken, so having the perfect setup in this zone will make prep time much more effective.

Prep zone tips

  • The prep zone should ideally be placed between the cleaning and cooking zone for easy clean up and access to the stovetop and oven.
  • Keep your commonly used bowls, spoons, oils, and spices within reach on the counter.
  • Make sure this zone has proper task lighting to avoid eye strain and mistakes while prepping.

The Non-Consumable Zone

Placed between the cooking zone and dining area, this zone stores cutlery, cookware, mugs, and anything else you need to consume food. Organize your drawers and cabinets with pull-outs, roll-outs, cutlery organizers, and lazy susans to keep things neat and easy to find when you need them.

Non-consumable zone tips

  • Store bulky items like larger appliances and pots on lower cabinets close to your oven.
  • Store baking trays in your warming drawer for easy access and to clear up storage space in other cabinets.

The Cleaning Zone

This zone includes your sink, dishwasher, and garbage cans. It is a good idea to have your non-consumable zone nearby so you can unload your dishwasher and put away your dishes easily without walking around the kitchen.

Cleaning zone tips

  • Have your prep zone nearby for easy access to the garbage when chopping and to your sink while washing fruits and veggies.
  • Store your cleaning supplies like sprays, sponges, and dish soap in this zone. Under-the-sink storage is a great way to keep these items on hand and out of the way.

The Cooking Zone

Including your oven, stovetop, and microwave, this zone should be placed near the prep and non-consumable zones for optimal efficiency. The key is to keep regularly used items like mixing spoons and pots in nearby drawers and cabinets so you never have to move far away from the cooking zone.

Cooking zone tips

  • Install lid organizers or racks in your cabinets to keep pots and their corresponding lids together.
  • Consider a magnetic strip next to your oven for knife storage.
  • For even more efficiency, install a pot filler by your stove if you can.

The Consumable Zone

This zone includes storage for consumable goods like the fridge and pantry. Having your fridge and pantry close together is a must when putting away groceries or gathering food to prep for a meal. Ideally, this zone should be next to the prep zone for easy workflow and visibility so you can easily take stock of your inventory.

Consumable zone tips

  • Keep items you don’t frequently use on higher shelves in the pantry and frequently used items within easy reach in the fridge and pantry.
  • Organize the consumable zone with storage bins for both the fridge and pantry. We recommend clear bins for the fridge so you can easily see what you’re running low on.
  • For space-saving tips in your pantry and cabinets, check out this blog

How the Zones Differ From the Kitchen Work Triangle

The 5 kitchen work zones are considered the updated kitchen work triangle. Originating in the 1940s, the work triangle was the ideal setup for the busy homemaker. The oven, fridge, and sink would be in the formation of a triangle for easy access and to reduce the number of steps taken while cooking.

The 5 work zones have become increasingly popular as the new, efficient kitchen model. They allow you to customize your space with distinct zones suited to your unique needs. You can add zones as needed, like a coffee station or entertainment area, depending on your everyday needs.  If you have a large kitchen or require more than just a simple work triangle setup, work zones would be better suited for you.

How to Design a Kitchen Using the 5-Zone Method

Work zones

Step 1: Decide Which Zones to Include

The first step is to decide which zones you want to include in your kitchen. Do you love to entertain? Do you need a homework station for your kids? What about a pet station for your dog’s food bowls? Decide which stations you need for your kitchen to function at its best. This can be more than 5.

Step 2: Store Necessary Items Close to Their Related Zone

To improve workflow, store knives, spices, and mixing bowls by the prep zone and cooking utensils near the cooking zone. Store dishes and cutlery near the cleaning station and consumable goods near the prep zone for easy access. Ideally, you should not take more than a few steps between the items and the zone they are used in.

Step 3: Prep Space Should Be Close to the Stove

The prep area and countertop must be close to your stovetop and oven. This will minimize extra steps taken and make cooking and prepping as efficient as possible. When organizing your zones, this step is vital for the entire workflow of your kitchen.

Step 4: The Consumable Zone Should Be Close to the Prep Zone

The fridge and pantry should ideally be right next to each other and close to the prep zone. If your kitchen layout doesn’t allow for this, try your best to get them as close as possible.

Step 5: Non-Consumables Should Be Close to the Cleaning Zone

Think about unloading your dishwasher or putting away dishes from your drying rack next to your sink – you don’t want to walk across your kitchen to do this. Keep the cabinets closest to the cleaning zone dedicated to storing your cutlery and dishware.

Zone Customizations: Using the Zones in Large and Small Kitchens

One of the biggest advantages of the 5-zone method is the customization abilities it offers. Besides letting you customize what zones to include, it also works for any kitchen layout. From galley kitchens to U-shaped, L-shaped, or extra-large spaces, no kitchen is too big or too small for the 5-zone method. All that would differ is the amount of storage space, which is unique to your lifestyle and needs.

By using the 5-zone method, you can smoothly and efficiently rotate through the zones while preparing, cooking, and putting away items. The placement of the prep zone, cooking zone, cleaning zone, and consumable and non-consumable zones will completely transform your lifestyle and ensure optimal workflow.

No matter the size or layout of your kitchen, we highly recommend using the 5-zone method for designing an efficient kitchen. To start designing your kitchen using the 5-zone method, check out our Cabinet Visualizer.


  1. Is the 5-zone method the best way to design a kitchen?
    We recommend the zones as the most efficient way to design a kitchen. It operates using your unique needs in mind and allows you to customize the zones for optimal workability.
  2. What if I have a small kitchen?
    No problem! The kitchen zones can be used no matter the size or layout of your kitchen.
  3. Is designing a kitchen with zones better than the work triangle?
    This depends on your everyday needs. The work triangle is an important way to make your kitchen efficient and to reduce the number of steps taken while cooking. The zones are simply more customizable. Keep in mind: if you have more than one person using the kitchen at once in your household or a large kitchen, the kitchen zones would work better for you. 
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