Kitchen work area

The kitchen is the most used room in the house. At parties, guests seem almost magnetically drawn to the kitchen. That’s where the food and drinks are, so this makes sense. But before they arrive, when you’re cooking, is your work triangle like the Bermuda Triangle?

The work triangle refers to the triangle created between the stove, refrigerator and the sink. Of course all of these areas would be useless without a countertop to work on but still. If you have a small kitchen, and as a result a small work triangle, you almost don’t have enough space to maneuver. On the other hand, if your work triangle is too big, you not only run yourself to death, but you also have to carry heavy dishes long distances.

Work Triangle Basics

Long ago, when designers started paying attention to how kitchens function day-to-day, they realized there was a natural triangle of traffic for whoever was doing the cooking. Through years of research they discovered some figures and principles of sound kitchen design.

No one side of the triangle should be greater than nine feet or less than four feet.

If you slightly exceed or don’t meet these measurements, this doesn’t mean that your kitchen is dysfunctional. However, you should measure the distance to each triangle component to see exactly how you measure up. If you notice that you feel cramped on one side or can barely make it to the sink with a pot of boiling water on the other, then you might benefit from a kitchen remodel.

The triangle should not be interrupted by traffic or cabinetry.

If your work triangle dimensions are correct, but they don’t include walking around the island to get to the stove or that people are always moving to the trashcan or standing by the refrigerator, then maybe kitchen traffic needs to be detoured.

The perimeter of the triangle should measure no more than 26 feet and no less than 12 feet.

If you have a small kitchen and each component is four feet away from the other, there’s not much you can do. But consider how easy it is to work in your kitchen. If something always feels a bit off when you are preparing a big meal, interior designers can help to restructure your kitchen.

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Kitchen Design Ideas

Again, the numbers for the work triangle are just guidelines. If your kitchen doesn’t meet these requirements but it easy to work in, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. But for those who always feel like it’s a constant fight just to make a sandwich, there are some ideas that can help.

Sometimes, the difference can be easy. If it’s possible to move your fridge closer to the action, unplug and slide it over. But if your sink or range needs moving, this takes a little more planning.

A decent percentage of kitchen remodels are begun just to make the kitchen easier to work in. From there, most of those remodeling projects wind up being luxurious kitchen remodels because people figure if they’re going to reorder their kitchen, they might as well make it look a little nicer, too. Local kitchen designers can help you whether you want a utilitarian remodel, a kitchen makeover or both.

Traffic is another issue that is not always a quick fix. In some cases, chopping off part of the island or peninsula can create the proper flow and change everything, though at the expense of less counter space. The good thing is most traffic is generated by the refrigerator, which is typically mobile. If you don’t have cabinets in every free space, moving the fridge can keep children at the edge of the kitchen when they want something to eat or drink, while keeping them from trekking through the middle of your triangle.

Getting Started With Your Work Triangle

  • Get a tape measure and define the actual sides and perimeter of your kitchen work triangle.
  • Determine how easy it is to work in your kitchen. If you think it is anything but easy, decide why that is. Are your components too far apart or too close? Is the traffic a mess? Are there islands or cabinets in your way?
  • Take stock of the items that could be moved or removed with little expense or effort.
  • Decide on your budget. Do you have the budget for a total kitchen remodel or only for a small redesign that will help you work better in the kitchen?

This type of upgrade is not one that can be measured. If you install energy efficient windows or a new HVAC unit, you can see the benefits on your energy bill. Kitchen remodels are about relieving personal stress. You are in the kitchen every day without exception. Sometimes three times a day, sometimes all day. Imagine the stress that would be washed away if your kitchen was set up so that you could work easily and stress-free.

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