Since the mid 1900’s, the work triangle has dictated kitchen design. The National Kitchen and Bath Association defines the “work triangle” as “an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink to the center of the cooktop, to the center of the refrigerator and back to the sink.” It makes it easier to move about the kitchen and makes traffic flow much more efficient.
Kitchen triangles are effective for smaller kitchen spaces where you really don’t have to take more than a few steps to reach each appliance. Additionally, the triangle design caters to the one-person kitchen and the traditional cook who preps, cooks and cleans all in the span of a few hours each evening.
Today’s reality is something very different from tradition. Often times, there are more people involved in the cooking process from preparation through clean-up. Everyone is in the kitchen at the same time and wants to get their jobs done. For larger spaces, the triangle design may not work as well.
“We venture away from the triangle guideline for certain scenarios.” says Rachel Krush, designer and supplier of Schrock Cabinetry. “The popularity of the center island is particularly helpful in larger spaces, where the triangle either grows in size or isn’t followed all together, as it offers a center landing zone that connects the primary kitchen functions, and maintains functionality for the cook(s).”
Appliances have grown to include microwaves, warming ovens, dual sinks, double refrigerators and more. The design and layout of kitchens need to keep up with the times. You may want to group appliances according to their use. The four major tasks completed in the kitchen are storage, prep, cooking, and cleaning. By grouping similar appliances together, such as the microwave, cooktop, and oven in one group and the sink, dishwasher, and compost bin in another, you transform your kitchen into an effective work area. .
“Aesthetic preferences and/or space requirements also factor in,” Krush goes on to say. “The growing popularity of tall, built-in walls often requires that we abandon the traditional work triangle. Lining a long wall with sleek tall cabinets and appliances gives a strong, contemporary aesthetic.”
Sight lines are another important layout consideration, particularly when designing for an open-plan space. The sight lines from key views and entrances should be kept as clear as possible so that the room feels open and spacious. This is especially important when incorporating an island or peninsula.
The triangle set-up can be the basis for a good design, but it shouldn’t dictate the design. Your lifestyle is more important to the layout of the kitchen. While designers and custom builders can’t anticipate every scenario, if you explain your intentions for the space, these professionals will use that information to customize your kitchen for you. You don’t need to have a mathematical or geometrical formula for success, just have a general understanding of the space and what is most important to your family.