Ever heard the phrase “work triangle?” Automaker Henry Ford actually originated the idea, organizing his factories so that workers performance a set of actions in as small a space as possible. This facilitated the mass production that helped Ford create automobiles cheaply and efficiently.
The sample principle was adapted by architects and incorporated into the most labor-intensive room in the house, the kitchen. The concept of a kitchen work triangle sets ideal spaces between the refrigerator, the food preparation area (including the sink) and the stove.
For instance, it’s not surprising that the refrigerator is the most used appliance in the home kitchen. Everyone goes there, often several times a day. Consequently most work triangles start with the right placement of the refrigerator in the kitchen. What’s more, placing the refrigerator next to the food cupboard congregates storage, which makes food preparation more efficient.
Once the refrigerator is properly placed, it’s time to build the other two sides of the kitchen triangle, the food preparation area and the cooking space.
The next logical step after getting food from storage is to wash it, peel it, or otherwise prepare it for cooking or eating. Placing the sink and adjacent worktops opposite the refrigerator makes it possible to collect food, make a 180-degree turn, and commence food preparation easily. Remember your geometry; the total area of a triangle is 180 degrees.
The final leg of the kitchen work triangle is the cooking space. Depending on where one lives, there may be public health and safety guidelines that dictate where stoves or built-in cookers may be installed. Typically they are kept away from both windows and doors to reduce the risk of fire hazards. In many cases, the refrigerator and cooking space might be positioned side by side, serving as two points of the triangle.
The kitchen triangle is only the start of a well-designed kitchen, however. Once the triangle is in place, the kitchen design should specify distinct work areas to prevent cross-contamination of foods. In general, there should be separate areas to work on meats and poultry and another area for vegetables, as in a restaurant.
Some kitchen designers recommend organizing the kitchen around these spaces: cold and dry food storage area, preparation and food washing area, mixing and cooking area, and serving area.
Storage space includes cold storage such as refrigerator and freezer, as well as other cupboard storage solutions or even a pantry closet for dry storage. The food preparation area should have a good worktop, a sink, measuring equipment, mixer, space for utensils, good task lighting and outlets for small electrical appliances. The cooking area needs appliances including a stove or a built-in cooktop, an oven, a microwave, storage space for pots and pans, a spice cupboard or rack, trivets or other safe places to set down hot pans, and a fire extinguisher. The latter is especially important because statistics show that 80 percent of household fires start in the kitchen.
Finally, the serving area should be closest to the kitchen table or dining room, so that everyone can enjoy a delicious meal while it’s hot!