Designing a kitchen can be a daunting task. So much activity revolves around what goes on in this one area of a house. A poorly designed kitchen can lead to stress when cooking and people working on top of each other, while a well designed kitchen can function seamlessly and make hosting parties a breeze. So when planning a new kitchen there are some important things to remember and follow.

All kitchens have three main function areas. They have a refrigerator and pantry that are used to store food. They have a sink which is used to clean food and dishes. Finally they have a stove and/or oven that is used to cook the food. These three items make up the fundamental triangle of a kitchen. An optimal kitchen layout will have three items make a triangle with following the store, clean, and cook arrangement in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

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This minimizes the amount of cross traffic between people during normal kitchen operation, and keeps the flow of food in one direction.

In a well laid out kitchen, countertop location also plays a very important roll toward the function. There are also three key activities to be aware of during design. The first is an area to stage stored food before it is cleaned. The second is an area to prep food (i.e. trim and cut) before it will be cooked. The third is a place to serve food that has just been cooked. These items are the basis of a secondary triangle.

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These two triangles form the basis of a successful kitchen design. They should fit directly into each other and flow in the same clockwise or counterclockwise direction. If they are followed an individual will be able to operate in the kitchen in a virtual circle without any overlap and cross traffic. The circular motion also means that a second hand can help out at any stage without running into each other or disrupting the flow.

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Not all kitchens will have the capability of following these guidelines exactly. The size of the space available and/or the makeup of the existing structure could cause a deviation from these rules of thumb. Some deviation will not damage the design fully, but the closer to the diagrams the better the kitchen will function, and as always if overwhelmed it never hurts to work with an architect.

Part 2 will cover Sizing and Style

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Jonathon Carstens joined [design][build] by architects June 2017 after working for Italo Milani in Rock Island.  He has 10+ years of experience working on small and medium size projects in the Quad Ciites which has allowed him to develop relationships with local building officials, local contractors, and has a special interest in improving local architecture to make the Quad Cities better with every project.