The Work Triangle – Still the Top Kitchen Contender?

The rule of three appears to apply to all aspects of life. Why is that? Well, because it flows. In writing, speaking, architecture, design . . . you name it . . . three just works. So it’s no surprise that the most universally appealing kitchen layout is called “the work triangle.” According to Houzz, “The kitchen work triangle connects the three main work areas in the kitchen – the sink, the range, and the refrigerator. As a general guideline, the distance between these areas should be no less than 4 feet and no larger than 9 feet.”  The work triangle is a kitchen layout concept developed in the 1940’s that has stood the test of time (in the world of home design where few things do). In fact, it’s quite fascinating that during a time in America when kitchens were quite small, and everyday life far less complicated than today, a kitchen layout was developed that would continue to meet the needs of the masses over 70 years later.

When undergoing a kitchen remodel, should you follow the time tested layout of the work triangle? Or, go for something different? The answer depends on you of course! Generally speaking, the work triangle is the best catch-all to fit the needs of most families. However, custom built kitchens are all the rage and “one size fits all” no longer applies. Family dynamics are highly diverse and constantly changing. Not only do today’s families vary in size and makeup, but they also differ in relationship to their kitchens. For some families life is centered in the kitchen with all members lending a hand with meal preparation, while others view the kitchen as merely as a place to refuel, resigning that duty to just one family member. Sorry mom . . . or dad . . .

The most important factor to consider regarding your kitchen layout is flow. What is the best traffic pattern for you and your family? If you enjoy making cooking a family event and enjoy entertaining guests regularly, the ideal layout for your kitchen may include workstations. Workstation layouts are a great way to organize your kitchen according to task. Add barstools to your island and you have an instant assistant station for your kids and dinner guests to pitch in and help snip green beans while you chat. Or, perhaps a space-saving galley kitchen layout would be a better option if you prefer having your important appliances laid out assembly line style for maximum efficiency.

In conclusion, the work triangle isn’t dead – it’s just snoozing. Sure, kitchen layouts have evolved due to various reasons, including increased house sizes, more work-saving appliances and changing family dynamics. However, the work triangle is famous for a reason: it’s universally appealing and fits well in most kitchens, no matter the dimensions. After meeting with your designer and contractor, you may find that there is no room in your kitchen for an L-shaped layout with an island. Remember to be flexible. What good is an island if it takes up every ounce of space you need to travel from one end of your kitchen to the next? Choosing the appropriate kitchen layout for your space is no easy feat. Consult with a designer before making any concrete decisions. Don’t let yourself become fixated on one particular layout before a designer offers you a few options first. Once you and your designer discuss your kitchen needs and the size . . . or potential size . . . hey, who said you couldn’t knock down a few walls? You will then be able to better decide if the traditional work triangle, or something new and innovative, is your best fit for a flowing and fully functional kitchen.


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