Understanding the kitchen work triangle
A time-tested approach to planning an efficient kitchen, the work triangle is a golden rule that determines the placement of your cooktop, sink and fridge. The logic is that keeping these three key kitchen components within a couple of steps of each other, and without any major obstacles, will make your space easier to use. The rule has been used for decades, and for many kitchen layouts is still the most efficient approach to appliance placement. Smaller spaces and fuss-free kitchens have the most to gain from the work triangle.
Exceptions to the rule
There is of course an exception to every rule, and everyone uses their kitchen differently. “It's such a personal thing,” says interior designer Naomi Nimmo of Nimmo Nielsen Collective. “Sometimes, if you don't stick to the triangle and you put the fridge, your pantry and your oven all along one wall, it frees you up to give you a nice clean run of bench space.”
When it comes to planning your layout, give careful considerations to the appliances you use the most and where they’ll be placed for easiest access.
Sinks, appliances and bench space are all essential elements in an efficient kitchen floor plan, but don’t forget to plan for adequate storage. If you’re tossing up between cupboards and drawers, try both. Opt for cupboards overhead and drawers under the bench.
“Even in the corners, we tend to design a lot more drawers,” says Naomi Nimmo. “Things can become very tricky to access in corner cupboards, so big deep drawers that you can access easily will far outweigh the small amount of space you save using cupboards.
“Always make sure you’ve got a bank of drawers somewhere behind the dishwasher, so when you're unpacking it, you're not having to walk around the island or the other side of the kitchen to put your plates away.”
An open-plan kitchen with a generous island bench is by far the most popular layout design in Australian homes right now. “An Island in a large open space creates a hub in the kitchen, and it also allows people to move around the space, so you're not closed in,” explains Naomi Nimmo. “An island doubles up as the bench where the kids want to come after school and do their homework, or where you might want to jump on your laptop, or even to use it as a big buffet when you’re entertaining,” she adds. Her tip? “Avoid having your sink in the island – once you put a sink in the mix it becomes cluttered with water spraying everywhere, and dirty dishes piling up around.”
Not everyone has the luxury of ample square metres, but there’s still a solution to suit your needs. “An L-shaped kitchen is a popular layout for small spaces,” says Philip Ryder, Kinsman Kitchens Store and Product Manager. “It lends itself to open-plan living and dining as it offers a wider area of floor space than a galley kitchen, allowing more people to be moving in it without crowding.”