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The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home and is the place where you do a fair amount of work on a daily basis. Due to the amount of traffic and usage a kitchen entails it is important that the design of your kitchen is perfect for you so it is wise to be aware of the fundamental kitchen design principles and elements involved; this is where the work triangle comes into play.

If you need some help there are companies around who offer assistance and, in some cases, even provide a free kitchen design service.

What is the work triangle?

When designing your new kitchen have you stumbled across the term ‘The Work Triangle’? Many interior designers use this phrase when they talk about the kitchen.

plan of work triangle

The work triangle means the distance between the three important parts to a kitchen – the fridge, sink and oven.

In order to obtain a brilliant work triangle the distance between these three work stations is kept fairly small to ensure that you don’t have to walk far when you’re cooking e.g. from the sink/work surface to the oven and back to the fridge.

The work triangle is one of the fundamental principles to have in mind when designing your new kitchen and the three sides of the triangle should be between 3600mm and 6600mm.

Kitchen storage

Wall and floor kitchen cabinets usually come in the same widths, for example a single cupboard can start at 20cm and increase to 60cm and a double kitchen cabinet will measure 120cm.

Wall kitchen cabinets are normally 30cm deep, it is a good idea to place your wall cabinets 45cm above the work surface otherwise you won’t be able to utilise the space underneath or, if placed higher, you won’t be able to reach anything inside your kitchen cabinets.

It is really important to think about the measurements and placement of your storage area first as the other integral pieces to your work triangle will fit in around your storage area.  Most appliances are made to the same dimensions as floor cabinets which makes it easier to integrate them within your design.

Where does everything go?

When designing your new kitchen with the work triangle in mind it may be confusing when you have to decide where to put your appliances.

  • Dishwashers should be placed near the sink and as close to the plumbing of the kitchen as possible. When siting a dishwasher it is imperative to ensure that it will be possible to open the door once installed e.g. it isn’t a good idea to place the dishwasher in a corner.
  • The oven shouldn’t be placed near windows or curtains and you should make sure that there are plenty of work surfaces available around it. Make sure you don’t place the hob under any kitchen cabinets unless you install an extractor fan underneath the storage area. The oven should be placed at least 30cm away from a corner to allow the door to open easily although many oven doors now have a hinge along the bottom allowing the door to drop down, it just depends on which type of oven appliance you choose for your kitchen.
  • The fridge and freezer should adhere to the work triangle rule although there aren’t any special places for them to be placed within the kitchen, just make sure that there is enough space so that the door is easy to open and close. It is also important to remember that the fridge and freezer door needs to be able to open wide enough to allow the removal of drawers.
  • When placing your sink, make sure it is near the plumbing of the kitchen and that there is a minimum of 1 meter space for it. Most people place the sink under the kitchen window to make washing pots and pans a more enjoyable chore.

Hints and tips

  • It is important to place your work triangle where there isn’t a traffic flow as this would disrupt the efficiency of the work triangle.
  • The work triangle shouldn’t cut through a kitchen island by more than 12 inches.
  • It is possible to have more than one work triangle if you have a large kitchen.
overhead view of work triangle

The work triangle is a design secret that enables efficiency and a better flow for the busiest room in the house. It makes cooking a more enjoyable task and you won’t be wasting energy on traipsing around the kitchen or parlour for your herbs and spices.

Turning your kitchen into an ergonomically correct space enhances the productivity in the kitchen and keeps it a cleaner and tidier space too.





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