Simple guidelines for planning an efficient kitchen layout

For more than a hundred years, architects and homeowners have endeavored to develop the most practical kitchen layout. The first really scientific plan was the Work Triangle developed in the late 1940’s by a group of architects at the University of Illinois. The concept is based on positioning the 3 principal appliances, the stove, fridge and sink, as 3 points of a triangle.

Basic rules for using the work triangle:

  • The sum of the sides of the triangle should be between 15 and 25 feet with the optimum being around 21
  • The distance between any two of the three major appliances should be no less than 4 and no more than 9 feet
  • If possible, traffic should not flow between the sink and stove
  • Tall cabinets should not be place between points on the triangle

Simple but effective, the work triangle was developed when kitchens were relatively small and used primarily by one person. It was the golden rule for kitchen design and kitchen planners used it faithfully for nearly 50 years.

Today, nothing is quite that simple.

Kitchens are a lot bigger, we have more appliances, often two or more people work simultaneously and the room itself has become the social centre of the home for both family daily living and entertaining.

It’s no longer practical to think of layout planning as something that can be reduced to a geometric formula. Modern kitchen design is based on workspaces or work zones and the idea of supporting appliances with cabinetry features, functions and organizers that are relevant to specific activities.

 

6 Work zone oriented kitchen planning tips:

  • Locate the dishwasher on one side of the sink with a pull out garbage and recycle centre on the other:
    • Position the dishwasher so that you have access to cabinets and drawers when the door is open
    • Have least 36” of fully accessible counter space for food preparation one side of the sink and at least 24” on the other
    • Organize drawers for knives, cutlery, tea towels and dish cloths
    • A roll out tray at the bottom of the sink cabinet can provide full access for cleaning supplies
    • Foil, food wrap and storage containers can be accommodated by a pull out organizer in as little as a 9” wide space
  • Provide counter layoff space of at least 15” on the opening side of a single door fridge or on both sides of a French door style fridge,
    • If the closest practical place for layoff space is across from the fridge it should not be more than 48” away
  • Allow for a 12” to 15” wide clear counter space on both sides of a stove or cook top:
    • Pot drawers and a pull out organizer for cooking oils and spices should be within easy reach
    • Organize cooking utensils with drawer dividers
    • A chimney or awning style range hood should be 6” wider than the width of the stove or cook top. This looks better and keeps the intense heat coming off of the side of pots away from the cabinetry. If your stove is gas, the manufacturer’s specifications may call for this anyway.
    • Baking sheets and cutting boards can be stored vertically with dedicated dividers. Close to the stove is ideal but over the fridge is usually more available and easy to use because you only need to reach the bottom front edge of the cabinet.
  • If baking is an important activity, a dedicated workspace separate from the food prep area is ideal.
    • An appliance lift will make the mixer easily accessible and can be operated on the lift to increase the working space
    • Full extension roll out trays are perfect for baking supplies
  • For galley style kitchens or kitchens with an island the optimum distance between countertops is 42” and no more than 48”
    • Allow a minimum of 32” between the countertop and a wall if the area does not have through traffic and 40” if it is a through area
    • The same is true for a table
  • A full depth broom closet with half depth adjustable shelves will keep all related products in one spot

Kitchens are very personal spaces and there are no rules for how you use yours. Hopefully these suggestions will help you to plan a layout that will make your kitchen a pleasure every time you use it. If you would like some additional help and ideas simply call us at 905-736-3331 or send us an email to arrange for a free consultation with one of our kitchen designers.