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​What are Kitchen Work Triangles?

Posted by Joe @ The Organic & Natural Paint Co on 23rd Sep 2015

What do triangles and kitchens have in common? This might seem like a somewhat obscure question but it actually underlies the basis of kitchen design and ergonomics. Despite how much quality granite or marble you use to bring beauty and style to your kitchen, it still remains one of the most functional and used rooms in the house.

For this reason it’s imperative that their design incorporates the busy, hectic and often disorganised places that they often become when food is being prepared by being as ergonomic and efficient a space as possible. And for this you need to think in triangles.

THREE POINTS OF A TRIANGLE

A kitchen work triangle is a way of breaking a kitchen into three distinct areas that any cook will occupy and move between repeatedly (and often rapidly).

THESE ARE BROKEN DOWN AS FOLLOWS

1. Food storage: Fridge, freezer, food cupboards, food racks, larder

2. Food preparation: Worktops, chopping boards

3. Food cooking: Oven, hob, microwave

The ergonomics of any kitchen is defined by these three areas and their relative location to each other. In most cases they should form three points of triangle as you move between them. Objects that impede this triangle work against the efficiency of the kitchen space as a food preparation and cooking environment.

Of course there’s a lot more to kitchen design than drawing an imaginary triangle. In fact, the work triangle is just the foundation on which to build a practical working kitchen environment.

EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE

Ask any budding amateur cook about what frustrates them about their kitchen and they’re more than likely to mention storage. Being able to keep and store every utensil, pan, chopping board and electronic tool where they are most easily accessible is a tricky balancing act that can involve a large degree of experimentation.

Even the largest kitchens can experience problems with storage and the more adventurous or accomplished your cooking skills, the more utensils and gadgets you're likely to have floating about in your kitchen work environment and the more likely it is that you find yourself scratching your head in frustration at where you put that spatula.

Good kitchens will often evolve with the preferred types and styles of cooking that takes place in them. If you’re often grinding up spices for a Moroccan tagine then it’s likely that your pestle and mortar will always be close to hand, perhaps occupying its own space on the worktop. If grinding spices isn’t your thing but you’re a master baker, then your food mixer is likely to have its own space on the worktop. The key lesson here is to experiment with what works best.

Of course sometimes, it just comes down to a matter of space (or lack of).

STORAGE TIPS

Unless you’re thinking of building an extension, you can’t change the dimensions of your kitchen and so you need to work with what you’ve got. In smaller kitchens this can be a real challenge. There are a number of clever ways to utilise space in a kitchen though by creating clever storage spaces.

HERE ARE JUST THREE IDEAS TO GET YOU THINKING:

  • Wall Racks: Wall racks are the perfect way of making use of empty walls and allow you to hang large frying pans, saucepans and woks, freeing up valuable space in your drawers.
  • Under Worktop Storage: If you have any under counter space that’s not being utilised then this should be first on your list. Breakfast bars are perfect for this.
  • Overmantle: Dependent on wall height, overmantles can be the perfect way of storing those less common utensils and cooking implements. Perfect over the hob (but make sure you turn it off before reaching up for that casserole).


Kitchens can, and should, be one of the most beautiful rooms in the house and it’s likely that it could be the most frequently used rooms as well. As such, efficiency and ergonomics are paramount to its design. Think in triangles and get experimental with your storage and it won’t be long before your kitchen is working with you, not against you.