Basic Kitchen Design Tips

Food is nourishment to our bodies like cooking and sharing a meal together is nourishment to our souls. This is why the kitchen is the heart of the home. Families spend an immense amount of time in this room, together. For this reason, a kitchen that is difficult to use could hinder a family’s bonding experience.  

I learned so much of what I know about design from my father. Some of my earliest memories of him involve some project or another he was working on in his basement woodworking shop and feeling like he can fix and build anything. I still feel this way and feel lucky to have apprenticed under him in my adult life. He has great design ideas and understands the flow a kitchen needs to have to be functional. 

Enter the concept of the “work triangle.” 

The basic idea is that the three areas most in use in a kitchen are the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove. These areas should be laid out in a way that you can hop around to each fluently. 

This article from explains this idea further and gives more examples of how a work triangle can be laid out in different ways for maximum efficiency.

Below is a renovated basic kitchen with an obvious work triangle. The cook can float around easily with no obstructions. 

In addition to using the work triangle to help design a functioning space, some basic concepts of how a kitchen is used can be helpful in defining the design. 

  • A dishwasher should always be to the direct left or right of the sink. 
  • If there are no constraints on the dishwasher location put it on your dominant side. (Right handed people put it on the right, left handed people on the left side.) 
  • A peninsula tends to feel boxed in and maze like no matter the location. Where possible, an island creates a more open flow. 
  • If space allows open the work triangle up enough to allow each aspect (stove, refrigerator, and sink) to be fully functioning at the same time so multiple people can work in the kitchen simultaneously. For example, the dishwasher can  open completely and is not in the way of any other part of the triangle. 

The picture of the kitchen above does have a work triangle but the fridge can not open at the same time as the dishwasher and overall the space can be tight for multiple people but this is also just a realty and constraint of smaller spaces. No matter the size of the kitchen there can always be “too many cooks in the kitchen,” at times. These design tips are just best recommendations. Even when you dislike your kitchen space find a way to make it work for your family here and now; come together and cook a meal together every once in a while. 

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