Text by Janice Blakely, AD CLEVER
I live in a moderately sized house with a moderately sized kitchen. It’s nothing Chip and Joanna Gaines would get excited about, but it's enough to get the job done. Yet every time I cook, all my culinary tasks end up relegated to a teeny, tiny corner of my kitchen between the sink and the refrigerator where I have about twenty-two inches of usable counter space. I’ve always known something was off about my kitchen’s layout but couldn’t put my finger on exactly what—until, that is, I learned of the decades-old theory regarding kitchen layouts deemed "the working triangle."
Developed in the early twentieth century, the working triangle—also known as "the kitchen triangle," also known as "the golden triangle"—is a theory that states a kitchen’s three main work areas should form, you guessed it, a triangle. Specifically, the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove. By the mid-twentieth century this theory was widely disseminated and still, miraculously, applies today. According to its tenets, each leg of the triangle formed should be between four and nine feet each, and the sum distance of the triangle should not be less than 13 or more than 26 feet. So neither too far apart or too compact. (In my own kitchen, the segment between the sink and the refrigerator is far shorter than the requisite four feet, thus creating a bottleneck.)
The segments of the triangle represent traffic flow within a kitchen, ideally creating a rotational movement between the tasks of cooking (stove), chopping/peeling (sink), and storage (refrigerator). So it is also important that no element, such as a kitchen island, block the flow.
Of course, quite a bit has changed since this dictum was first brought into our national lexicon. Preparing food is no longer largely the responsibility of one individual within a home (à la Carol Brady). Families and couples like to cook together. Kitchens are frequently open to the rest of the home, as opposed to a closed-off space where only behind-the-scenes tasks happen. Because of these changes, many experts now champion the idea of a sort of evolved kitchen triangle, going from three distinct work areas to creating work “zones” within the kitchen that are self-contained. For example, your baking zone should have everything you would possibly need to bake—measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin, baking sheets—and ideally be located near both your pantry and your oven. Your preparing “zone” has everything you need to prepare: knives, colander, peeler, trash or disposal, etc.
If you think about it, a bar can function as its own zone.
It will always be important to evaluate traffic flow between each zone, and if it makes sense with your needs, the classic triangle is still a great way to go. But if you find it’s not jiving in your particular layout, fear not. Just like all rules, triangles are made to be broken.
Feature Image: Unsplash