Wednesday, 20 January 2021

"The Kitchen Triangle"

The fridge-hob-sink triangle is - supposedly - a key consideration when deciding a kitchen layout. Here are some examples from Wonderful Kitchens. I assume they are Australian, hence "stright" instead of "straight":

Two things occurred to me recently:

1. Whichever layout you choose, there will be a lot of traipsing back and forth and people getting in each others' way. If you have the space and can afford it, a far better layout is to have two sinks. A small one between fridge and hob for washing vegetables and filling pans (only needs a cold feed) and a large one for washing dishes - preferably double-bowl so that you can wash in soapy water and rinse in clean water.

2. Work tops are usually 60cm deep, which is far too narrow. Inevitably, you have stuff along the back (kettle, toaster, blender, spices, utensils etc). These take up nearly half the depth, leaving you only with a narrow strip along the front for preparing food. If you go to 75cm or 80 cm depth, you double the effective working space.

The length of the work top is limited by how big the room is, but the depth isn't (unless it's an unusually narrow room). If the room is small, it's tempting to go L-shape to increase useable work surface - but actually the first thing you should consider is increasing it by having a deeper work top just along the longest wall. Also, my wife hates corner cupboards and would rather have a straight run, I agree with her on this.

Applying 1 and 2, we end up with this:

I assume that you have a fridge/freezer under the work top (or a larder fridge and a freezer if there's space). There's space for your kettle/toaster above/behind the fridge/freezer; for spices, cooking oil and utensils behind the hob; and for washing up liquid and scourers etc behind the double sink. The microwave goes on an eyeline shelf above the fridge/freezer or small sink, obviously, otherwise you waste too much work surface.

So you end up with a nice production line - take food out of fridge/freezer; wash/prepare; put in pans; cook; put used pans next to washing up sink; wash, rinse and put on draining board. Two people can easily work side by side with a minimum of getting in each others' way.


Bayard said...

I am now on my sixth kitchen design and agree with your conclusions. Indeed my latest design is a straight line as you show except that the sink is across the end, making an narrow L. There is no corner cupboard below the corner as below the sink will be solid masonry (or solid rock, I haven't investigated yet)leaving just enough room for the drains. I like the second sink idea and am going to see if there's room to fit one. I can't increase the depth of the worktop because the kitchen is in a narrow slot.
On another matter, I'm glad to see that you've put the sink where it is because it makes sense in the layout, not because it's under a window.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, ta.

I've only ever done three kitchens, and two were so small that there wasn't really any choice on how to arrange it (I visited the flat next door to my second attempt, he had done EXACTLY the same arrangement). I had more space in the third one, but I messed up not having enough free space to left and right of hob.

As to depth, every inch counts. If there's enough room for one person to squeeze past another, that's enough.

Clearly, you can flip it left to right to get the washing up sink near the window. Dunno why this is a rule, but it just is. Also, I think the layout I showed works better for left handed people. All things being equal, I'd flip it left to right (being right handed).

ontheotherhand said...

The kitchen triangle thing is one of those pleasing ideas that somehow sticks and becomes received wisdom, but.... If the overall design aim is to reduce movement between work areas, the world has got a lot more complicated since the 40s when this was developed. You mention the microwave which together with the toaster and electric kettle and dish washer we now have more than 3 regular points to visit. Also depending on your council how many blessed types of recycling and separation required making waste management design important for a tidy unsmelly kitchen.
If I make some toast I go to breadbin, toaster, drawer for knife and plate, cupboard or fridge for spread, then dishwasher. For tea which is quite regular, the tap, the kettle, the tea bag, the milk, the mug, tea bag disposal etc. I think the ease of micro-preparations like those are as important as cooking the big meals. My sister has a tap with an integrated boiler for tea and it is a very tidy solution saving a trip from tap to kettle (but I don't think it is near enough to 100 to make great tea...)

Mark Wadsworth said...

OTOH, the aim is to minimise walking around, you will never eliminate it entirely so no point trying.

Clearly, in the layout I recommend, the kettle is next to the small sink, the toaster is near it, milk and butter are in the fridge and breakfast cereal, tea bags and bread are nearby (on surface or in eye level cupboard).