The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Kitchen Triangle Smackdown!

Is the kitchen triangle all it's cracked up to be? Well, YES, for the most part. But, today's news in kitchen design is that the kitchen triangle just may not be for everyone! And, the funny thing is, I do believe that my presenting a kitchen plan to a client which does not include the kitchen triangle allows the client to be more savvy and confident in regard to what they want from their kitchen, not less.

In this situation, I gave my clients a wide variety of very different plans which were good possibilities for their space. There is never just one solution, oh no! Some plans had angled islands and peninsulas, including other design solutions, and, appliances in varied positions. 

Long story short, this was the one they chose. Why? For two reasons. First, they both cook. Right now, their aisles between obstacles, all around the kitchen, range from about 24" (that's correct) to 39" in width. Incredibly tight, with no room to move around. Frustrating to say the least. No doorways or windows could be moved.

Second, they have frequent visits from their grown kids and their families, and they love to entertain.  When they entertain, whether for family/casual purposes or other guests, they wanted to have an area where they could set food down in buffet style. This was one driving force for the plan they chose. I reminded them that this seemed to be their focus, to make sure this was the path that was right for them.

When I mentioned that the trade off of this plan is the island's position as an obstacle between the clean up sink and the cooking area, (what a great cooking area it can be) this was not a concern, a trade off that many others could not live with, but, to these clients, is seen more as an advantage than a disadvantage.

Next week, I will give them options for the clean up sink to be on the other wall, switching the refrigerator to be near the sliding doors. Why? Perhaps the sink going on the adjacent wall will bring us more interesting design opportunities for that wall, and send the monolithic refrigerator to where it is less obtrusive. Put the refrigerator where the pantry/storage is? No, the door swing does not work at all that way.  

The plan also allows for good passage to the outdoors, and as my client mentioned, the ability to turn the table chairs around for more seating at the seating end of the room. Designing three areas into one means that the client needs to consider which areas get the emphasis...the kitchen, dining area, or lounging area. This is the critical piece. The answer is different for everyone, there is no right or wrong.  Drawing plans in a simple way, such as this, enables my clients to focus just on countertops/storage, appliance locations and traffic flow. Now, the blanks can begin to be filled in.

You CAN break out of the kitchen triangle. I promise the kitchen police will NOT track you down!  And, if they do, call me, I'll bail you out!



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Reader Comments (4)

Oh boy - you hit my trigger.

I believe the concept of the work triangle came out of the University of Illinois (was it the Small Homes Council?) way, way WAY back (The '50s or 60s ring a bell but don't quote me.) If I'm right on that - a 50-60 year old guideline? Hello! I'm not seeing too many of my clients canning and preserving these days or using a hand-crank beater to whip up some eggs. *grin*

Now we've added a multitude of big appliances (separate ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, speed ovens, warming drawers) and other items (tvs, computers, cappuccino makers), different lifestyles (anyone remember "latch key kids"?), and a huge difference in home layouts.

I remember taking a NKBA course in the early '90s where the concept of double work triangles and rectangles came into the picture, but that didn't seem to catch on. Shame. We'll just have to do it ourselves.

So, thank you for that post. I thought I was alone in the jungle out there. I'll fight off the kitchen police with you.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

The kitchen police are alive and well and so is the work triangle! We are all still designing around it and it still works great. By the way I canned a little over 100 quarts of tomatoe sauce this year and my sons cranked the handle of our tomatoe machine as we ground up all the fruit. Anyway...large or small, multiple cooks or not, the foundation for the triangle or multiple triangles remains true. Ergonomics makes sense. Additional appliances allow us to design multiple work stations with mulitple triangles. I think all of us are getting to the same place; it's just that some of us are looking for a new millenium approach. Sarah...challenging room, nice design, makes sense. If you were to ask I could show you at least 3 triangles in it and I'm not even wearing a badge.

October 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJeffrey Holloway CKD, CBD

Kelly, yes, I believe you are correct! I do remember the multiple work triangles, but I'm not sure that consumers were not ready to venture beyond the "nest!" I do believe they are much more receptive to alternative ideas now. Glad to have your company in this "open source" idea mill!

Jeffrey, are you kidding, canning 100 quarts of tomato sauce?? Wow, you get mega points for making that kitchen work for you! Lol, yes, I think there is some great flexibility in this plan for the owners, just what they need and want.

October 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Ha, Jeffrey! I knew as soon as I posted that, someone would come in and tell me they still canned! Wow, what a lot of work - good for you. When can Susan and I visit? :d

October 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

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