Is the Working Kitchen Triangle Method Still Used in Modern Kitchen Design?

The working kitchen triangle is a concept in kitchen design that has been popular for many years. It refers to a distinct kitchen layout, intended to maximise the efficiency of both food preparation and movement around the kitchen. This type of layout works particularly well for smaller kitchens, but with the landscape of kitchen design changing significantly since its conception in the 1940s, it makes sense to ask whether it is still relevant in modern kitchen design.  Below we’ll explore what the kitchen triangle is, and some of the reasons why it’s not always the best option when it comes to modern kitchen planning.   

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What is the working kitchen triangle?

The idea of the working kitchen triangle was created during the 1940’s to simplify kitchen designs and promote easy movement within the kitchen. This concept, sometimes also called the ‘golden triangle’, refers to having your sink, refrigerator and cooktop placed in a triangle formation in your kitchen. These three elements are those we use most frequently and so should ideally be placed close to one another allowing for easy movement between them. 

As such, the triangle formation is meant to promote a good flow in the kitchen and simplify the cooking process for anyone preparing food. It works especially well for smaller kitchens, in which the different food preparation stages are never more than a few short steps apart. Ideally this space should also be unobstructed by furniture or appliances. In this instance the working triangle promotes an efficient workflow, however, it is worth bearing in mind that the working kitchen triangle assumes there is only one person working in the kitchen at any given time! 

Is the working kitchen triangle still relevant?

With the rapid diversifying of what modern kitchen spaces look like it begs the question of whether the working kitchen triangle is still relevant. For smaller kitchens, it can certainly still be beneficial. If you’re working with limited space, the triangle shape can be a great help in terms of layout and figuring out the placement of your essential work stations. 

That being said, there are many kitchen layouts and modern kitchen trends that simply don’t lend themselves well to this kind of triangle formation. There are also many kitchen ‘extras’ including luxury items such as coffee machines, steam ovens or wine coolers which never used to exist but now need factoring into everyday designs. In light of this, many kitchen designers are claiming that the once novel and popular idea of the ‘golden’ kitchen triangle is well on its way out!   

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Working kitchen triangles are less suitable for open plan kitchens

One definitive trend that is constantly gaining traction in kitchen design is the incorporation of open plan living into kitchen spaces. This is a prominent layout for both large and small spaces, requiring sufficient space for the kitchen to flow into the living or dining room. In larger open plan spaces, having your cooktop, refrigerator and sink in such proximity to one another is often not feasible and can also prove less aesthetically pleasing. Designers of open plan kitchens instead often incorporate specific areas referred to as ‘kitchen zones’, with each zone fulfilling the different purposes that the working triangle normally would.   

The working kitchen triangle doesn’t work for every kitchen shape

Developments in kitchen design have led to more unique and unconventional kitchen shapes, which do not always lend themselves well to a working kitchen triangle. For example, kitchen islands are immensely popular, and come in all different shapes and sizes, but this design often separates the cooking and storage stations. With a kitchen island as the focal point of your kitchen, there is not necessarily a need for a kitchen triangle. 

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Is the working kitchen triangle applicable to modern cooking habits?

Another factor to consider when looking at the triangle’s function and design is that it was designed to benefit whoever is cooking – which is assumed to be just one person. Yet modern times have evolved significantly past the assumption that each household has just one person who does all the cooking. Instead, many modern kitchens are purposely designed to accommodate multiple cooks at a time. In this sense, the triangle formation won’t always work because the area becomes crowded with the kitchen workflow easily interrupted. If cooking is a social and collaborative event in your home, the working kitchen triangle might not work for you.   

The needs of the client should always come first

The working kitchen triangle is popular, and still proves beneficial in modern kitchen spaces. However, designers should always consider the needs and vision of the client first and foremost when crafting a working layout. Designing a bespoke kitchen tailored to each client’s preferences might include this once popular layout, but equally it simply might not fit with what’s best for the user.       

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Is the working kitchen triangle still relevant?

So, to answer the question, is the working kitchen triangle still relevant in kitchen design? It can definitely be a good principle to keep in mind and is often still implemented in smaller kitchens. However, there are certainly trends and design tendencies in modern kitchen design that make the kitchen triangle somewhat obsolete. Ultimately, the needs of the client should come first, and a good kitchen designer will recognise this and work with creativity and an open mind rather than working to a conventional, pre-defined layout.  

Need help planning your perfect kitchen layout? Find your nearest Kitchen Expert today! 


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