The kitchen work triangle is an old concept, used to reduce the number of steps needed to move around a kitchen while preparing a meal. One of the interesting challenges today, is factoring in kitchen islands which everyone loves. That's because on paper, there might not be enough visual clues to warn you that you'll have to walk around the island, versus through it.
So why kitchen design based on a triangle? The concept is based on the three basic work areas in traditional kitchens (pre-dating islands and open concept floor plans).
- The refrigerator – is where all things cold are stored, and accessed when preparing meals.
- The sink – is where food is prepared, and cleanup occurs during and after the meal is done.
- The stove – is where the cooking happens, although in today's kitchen, a lot of cooking also uses the microwave.
These three features in a kitchen, and the path one to the other, are known as the kitchen work triangle. If you place them too far apart, you'll waste a lot of steps (and time) when preparing a meal. If they're too close to each other, you probably don't have enough work space.
Basic Rules for the Kitchen Work Triangle
According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), these are the basic design guidelines for a kitchen work triangle:
- The total of the 3 triangle sides, should be between 12 and 26 feet.
- Each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet.
- There should be no obstructions (cabinets, islands, etc) intersecting any leg of the work triangle … which means, oops, I didn't quite get it right in my kitchen (above).
- Household traffic should not flow through the work triangle.