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The Science of the Kitchen Work Triangle

Most of the work you do in the kitchen is concentrated in three areas: the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. The space created by each one of these points is called the “kitchen work triangle”, and the design of this space will greatly impact how well your kitchen functions. A kitchen with a poorly designed work triangle will make it harder to work efficiently, which leads to an unhappy chef.

So what makes a good work triangle? The idea of the kitchen work triangle was first developed in the late 1940’s by the University Of Illinois School Of Architecture, and featured these basic principles:For a functional kitchen, make sure to consider the kitchen work triangle.

  • Each “leg” of the triangle (the distance between each area) should be between 4 and 9 feet long.
  • The total length of all three legs should be between 13 and 26 feet.
  • There should be no obstructions inside the work triangle.
  • Household traffic should not have to go through the work triangle.

Our kitchens are generally larger, and our appliances are generally smaller than they were 70 years ago, but the basics of the work triangle still hold up great, nearly three-quarters of a century later. So much so, that the work triangle is still a starting point for any great kitchen design. Having less than 4 feet between points of the work triangle cause the workspace to be too cramped, and distances longer than 9 feet take too much moving around, making your ability to work in the kitchen less efficient.

There are a few things the traditional work triangle doesn’t take into consideration though: additional appliances like microwaves, multiple people working in the kitchen at the same time, and different kitchen layouts. Using the same ergonomic ideas, you can easily adapt the triangle to fit these different situations.

So if you’re planning on remodeling your kitchen or building one in a new home in the Madison area, give our kitchen design experts call and we’ll make sure it works and looks great.