The Kitchen Triangle Explained

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Have you ever heard of the kitchen triangle? Also sometimes called the work triangle, this concept is something that can help with your kitchen design. But do you need it? Find out for yourself


Work Triangle in the Kitchen

Dreaming up a new kitchen can be super exciting, but it also may bring in some overwhelm. If it’s truly the heart of the home, then it’s going to be a big project! One of the main things you want to consider when designing your kitchen is the shape.

When shopping for kitchen design ideas, you may have heard about the “kitchen triangle.” There are varying opinions and thoughts on this from designers worldwide. So let’s dive in and figure out what the kitchen triangle is, how it’s useful, and whether it could benefit you in your kitchen design.

What Three Areas Does the Work Triangle Connect in the Kitchen?

The work triangle connects your stove/range, sink, and refrigerator. These are, in theory, the items you would need most in a kitchen if you’re preparing a meal for yourself, friends, or family.

What is the Kitchen Triangle Rule?

If this is a totally new concept to you, the kitchen triangle rule is a common design rule that states your kitchen should flow in a triangle.

dark blue kitchen cabinets with wood island
Kitchen photo via Architectural Digest

The three points of this triangle are the stove, sink and fridge – essentially your most-used appliances in the kitchen. It’s an easy way to create a well-organized space where you can work efficiently and get cooking faster!

dark blue kitchen cabinets with wood island with work triangle in the kitchen superimposed in red on top
The kitchen work triangle in the same kitchen via Architectural Digest

The total area between triangles should range between 13 to 26 feet. This is to help you move between the 3 most used items in a kitchen and create efficiency at mealtimes, prepping food or just stopping to take a sip of something while you’re having dance parties in the kitchen.

What Are the Reasons for Creating a Work Triangle in Your Kitchen?

Regardless of your specific kitchen layout, a kitchen triangle can work for you. It doesn’t mean that you have to use it, but it can be a great option.

Most designers agree that the work triangle can work well if your kitchen is smaller. If you are designing your dream kitchen or you have a grand kitchen with tons of space, there are still significant benefits to having the work triangle in place.

The kitchen work triangle can help keep traffic flowing better. Ever experienced someone getting under your feet while you’re trying to cook? If somehow they get in the middle of your triangle, now you’ve got even less room to move. A triangle can give you room to move and give the other person a place to go.

The kitchen triangle also helps promote clean-up and organization. Instead of moving things all over your counters and having items spread out with no place to put them when you’re done, you can have a designated area for each item. You can easily move things out of your work zone.

white upper cabinets and black kitchen island with leather barstools and rattan pendants

Another great benefit is that it works with any kitchen style – from galley to a one-wall kitchen like we did at our first flip house, Beverly. We are planning for a one-wall kitchen in Archie and will work to create a functional triangle there.

Is the Kitchen Triangle Layout Outdated?

The kitchen triangle layout idea is not necessarily outdated, but it’s not always workable. Many designers and homeowners might ask: is this work triangle in the kitchen essential?

The work triangle layout gained popularity in the 1940s, but you can work with whatever works best for your kitchen design. This means that it may work perfectly for your space, or maybe some tweaks are needed to make it work.

The idea came in the 1940s from the University of Illinois School of Architecture when many women worked in the home and were only home raising babies and cooking. So, unfortunately, it might seem that this concept is rooted in patriarchy. But the family dynamic has changed and at the very least, so has the way houses are built.

white kitchen with island and red kitchen work triangle graphic on top

Now there are more dads than before staying home.

Now more women work outside the home in demanding careers.

Sometimes more than one person is in the kitchen and needs to prepare the meals.

Most kitchens are a lot larger than they used to be in the 40s.

A more modern idea is the kitchen “work zones.” Work zones can be a much more common way of working, especially in a larger kitchen where you might have a wet bar or additional prep space that’s not just between your stove, refrigerator, and your sink.

How Do You Do The Kitchen Triangle With an Island?

white kitchen with gray island and red kitchen work triangle graphic on top

Many one-wall kitchens have an island, and it is very possible to work with this. The work triangle can be a solid foundation of your kitchen, so don’t skip out on it because you have an island.

As far as ideal work triangle measurements go, an island will require some adjustments to work effectively, but it is possible. It will also mean that you’ll need your island spaced far enough away from your cabinets so you can have ample space to work with your work triangle.

The important thing is to take measurements and plan it all out ahead of time to know precisely what you need. 

The best part is that rules are made to be broken. If you have an island or if a true work triangle is not possible in your space, there are other ways to arrange your work zones that might be more functional for you. 

Now go forth into kitchen design greatness!

Similar Posts