All About the Work Triangle and Kitchen Zones

All About the Work Triangle and Kitchen Zones

How do you design a kitchen using the Work Triangle?

While it’s important to keep the principles of the work triangle in mind, you must adapt it to suit the way you live, cook and the appliances you use. The ideal design is one that blends the concept of zones and triangles to create an ideal layout.

A flat pack, DIY kitchen can save you thousands of dollars and get you the high quality kitchen build. But the very first step is getting the kitchen layout right. Your research may throw up conflicting advice, so we’ve written this article to help you design the right one for you.

What is the work triangle and why is it important?

The work triangle is the area between the sink, the stove and the refrigerator. That’s the space in which most of the movement takes place when cooking, tidying or cleaning the kitchen.  If the three are not positioned optimally, you may find yourself not having the fridge close enough to fetch ingredients for cooking or having to carry hot oven trays too far to the sink.

There are a few types of kitchen layouts, but the most popular ones are the U-shaped, the L-shaped and the galley or parallel kitchen. The images below display some typical kitchen layouts with the working triangle.

kitchen work zones

The kitchen triangle theory was developed in the 40’s and was quite specific in the measurements between the triangle. But it was based on smaller kitchens and made assumptions:

  • That the kitchen is used only for cooking and not modern day gathering.
  • That the kitchen would only be used by one chef.
  • And that there were no appliances other than the fridge, stove and sink.

Clearly none of these hold true anymore.

  • Kitchens are multipurpose family zones where we gather for connection.
  • Prep, cooking and cleaning is often a group task.
  • Parents multi-task more than ever before.
  • We’ve added on a huge range of appliances and technology to our kitchens.
  • We entertain informally and more frequently.

So that’s what we’ve got to design our kitchen around.

How do you design a layout based around your needs?

Lifestyle is key.  Our clients often say they want to watch TV while they cook and clean. Some want to help their kids with homework. Others want a large island bench to entertain. Many ask for a little tech hub, charging stations for all the devices and a small desk sometimes near the fringe of the kitchen.

With such high expectations from the kitchen, it’s important to think through the zoning in detail. Try to make each zone as efficient as possible (applying the working triangle concept within each task zone).

  • The clean-up zone involves the sink, the dishwasher and the garbage disposal system. Keep them within reach of each other.
  • The cooktop should not be too far from the sink either as you don’t want to carry dirty, heavy pans too far to wash.
  • If there’s often a couple of cooks in the kitchen, add in more bench space.
  • If you want the kids to hang out with you while you cook, but don’t want them crowding you – put in space for them on the fringe of the kitchen – either on a large island or alongside the kitchen. Make sure the island overhang allows them to sit comfortably. That’s a great spot for the technology (a charging hub) too.
  • There’s a range of appliances to accommodate. The microwave and/or coffee machine may be quite central to your lifestyle. As maybe a bar fridge when entertaining. Can you add it under the island so guests don’t have to make their way to the fridge? Remember that most appliances need landing space –  a key consideration in their placement.
  • Organise items closest to where they will be used.

Depending on your lifestyle, there will be different design options for you to consider. If you have a mid-size or large kitchen, you can build your zones around tasks. Think through all the key daily tasks, what you need and where you will store ingredients. That will help you design a seamless flow and functional kitchen.

When you download a guide from Kitchen Shack, we include a kitchen drawing sheet. Print a few and after taking some basic measurements, draw some layouts. Remember to include all decision makers and work out what you need the most and how much you can fit in. Book in a free in-store design with us and the Designer will do a 3-D design for you. Alternatively, give us a call and one of our experienced team will walk you through the process.

Download Your Free Design Guide​

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.