Kitchen Layout: How to Set Up a Work Triangle

Have you heard of the kitchen work triangle? If you’re planning to do any work on your kitchen in the near future, knowing the basics of this ergonomic rule is a must. We’ll walk you through the concept and its pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for your new kitchen’s design.


What is a kitchen work triangle?

The kitchen work triangle was developed sometime during the 1940s, and has determined the layout of most kitchens built since then. This concept connects the three work areas in the kitchen: The sink, the range and the refrigerator.

The traditional rule states that the three “legs” of the triangle should add up to between 12 and 26 feet. Ideally, no traffic paths from other parts of the house pass through any party of the work triangle to keep the cooking area clean and clear.


Why does it work?

The kitchen work triangle helps to ensure that everything is a comfortable distance from each other to improve efficiency. When the points of a kitchen work triangle are too far from each other, you’ll end up running around the kitchen trying to cook your dinner. When the points are too close, you and your kitchen will feel cramped.

Tip: Since you want your kitchen work triangle to be clear of traffic from other parts of the house, it’s often best to keep items like the sink and refrigerator (which are used by everyone in the house) on the outer points of the kitchen work triangle.


Do I have to follow this rule?

The short answer is, no, you don’t always have to incorporate the kitchen work triangle into a kitchen’s design. Today, we use the kitchen much differently than the brains behind the kitchen work triangle did in the 1940s.

While it’s certainly worth it to keep the concept of the kitchen work triangle in mind, you may have to make adjustments and design decisions based on what you’re working with. If you have a single wall in a small apartment, for example, the kitchen work triangle just isn’t going to happen.

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