Is the kitchen work triangle outdated?

Apr 14, 2018 | Process, Trends | 0 comments


When the kitchen work triangle was first developed in the 1940’s, it was with a single cook in mind. A stay at home wife who wanted the kitchen to be as ergonomic as possible. For someone who spent the majority of the day cooking and cleaning, a smaller, compact space was the most practical. Being able to access the sink, oven and food storage (refrigerator) without having to walk to the other side of the room was essential. Therefore, the 3 corners of the kitchen work triangle were born.

With today’s modern life, the kitchen is much more than a kitchen. It’s a social space, a lounge, a dining room, a quick-breakfast-running-out-the-door space. A seat to do homework or have a coffee, and a place to cook, of course.


Now that the kitchen has transformed into the core of the home, it consequently means more people using the space at one time. If there are 4 people trying to clear up after last night’s party. Or, 2 people making brunch for the rest of the family, things begin to get cramped with a work triangle. For those frequent entertainers, having 2 dishwashers has become an increasingly practical option. 1 near a drinks cupboard, and 1 near the sink for plates. More room to move around, and more space for friends to help out.

The kitchen has adapted to more movement and to the way modern life has changed what we do in our homes. This is evident in the fact that islands have been more than simply de rigueur in most kitchens for quite some time now, but are really the ideal in practicality. If you’ve got the space, an island facilitates the social aspect of a kitchen.


More flexibility is certainly apparent, and categorising a kitchen by use of space is now common. For instance, having a separate drinks area, or food preparation area. At the Kitchen Partners, we regularly recommend keeping the island clear of a sink. It tends to end up with dishes or glasses in (even with a dishwasher – or 2!). This leaves the island exclusively for food prep and socialising. And if for the sake of space the hob is on the island, then it’s always a nice way to show off your cooking skills.

While the work triangle seems outdated, designers discuss with people how they use their space every day and which layouts suit each individual person or family. This is why we always aim to come to see a customer’s existing kitchen (if potential construction work permits) to really get a feel for the habits and lifestyle of each customer.

Over time these conversations have led to a much more personalised result for customers, and questions about use of space ultimately inform design.

To see some of the customer kitchens we’ve done, click here.