Put your traffic flow to the test
• Can you easily bring in groceries, set them on the counter and put away canned goods, frozen foods and pantry items?
• Do you have ready access to dishes and glasses to set the table?
• Can you move food from fridge to prep zone, chop and mix, cook and serve without feeling cramped?
• Is there room to load and empty the dishwasher?
• While one family member is cooking or doing prep work, can another empty the dishwasher, get to the refrigerator or microwave without being in the way?
• Can one person reach the coffee pot without crossing through the cook/prep area?
The kitchen triangle shouldn't feel as mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle.
It's simply a long-standing description of a kitchen's workspace -- that imaginary triangle formed between the location of the refrigerator, stove and sink. By dubbing it a triangle, homeowners better understand how the three pieces work in tandem.
Over the last three decades, kitchens have changed from being utilitarian work spaces to being where family, even guests, gather to socialize.
As kitchens have grown to accommodate this role, kitchen design has expanded to include islands offering work space and seating or angled granite-topped counters that divide kitchens from adjacent great rooms.
So is the kitchen triangle still viable?
"We are trained to use the work triangle in our design process," says Nick Deslaetes, cabinet sales specialist at Lowe's in Dalton, Ga. "We think the work triangle is very relevant, even though there are more modern design elements today. It's a safe approach to placing appliances."
In fact, the addition of kitchen islands has changed the traditional triangle to allow double triangles, notes Jackie Howard, owner of Scarlett's Cabinetry in Chattanooga.
"Kitchens are big now," she says, "and most of my kitchen designs have two triangles, which is usually because the refrigerator is outside the work triangle."
The addition of the kitchen island has allowed designers to move the refrigerator away from the range, she says, making it more accessible to the entire family.
"The refrigerator and microwave are the two appliances everyone in the home uses, which is why you don't see microwaves above the range anymore," Howard says. "We're locating them in microwave drawers that pull out like warming drawers so an older child can easily use them."
Perhaps the one exception to the work triangle is a galley kitchen -- a long, narrow, rectangular room. In this case, designers at houzz.com, an online site for interior design and architectural advice, suggest installing the sink, oven and fridge on one wall and prep space on the opposite wall.
If a galley kitchen's space only allows one long row to hold both prep and work spaces, then the appliances should be grouped on one end allowing for the most counter area on the other.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...