Our kitchens have long been the heart of our home. Over the past year, many of them have also become his brain center, with makeshift home offices and classrooms, as we use these essential spaces to store more groceries for less trips to the supermarket, and cook and eat more meals. It’s been a stressful time all around, hasn’t it? How are you holding up? How does your kitchen manage its stress test?
Hopefully our kitchens can soon become the gas stations of our home full time again. Fueling our bodies with healthy foods and drinks is the most important role of cooking, and optimizing it is the best thing we can do for our well-being. One of the ways to do this is to zone the space. (FYI, you don’t need to reshape for this to happen either!)
Kitchen work triangle
If you’ve ever planned or remodeled a kitchen, you’ve probably come across a concept called the work triangle. The three points of the triangle are the refrigerator (storing food), the stove or hob (cooking) and the sink (preparation and cleaning) – and moving between these essential functions was supposed to be easy and convenient.
The Kitchen Work Triangle was created in the 1940s to maximize efficiency in the typical single cook, L-shaped, or galley kitchen. This was the time before the popularity of island and side sinks, when parties ended in the kitchen, but didn’t start there. (Our parents or grandparents entertained themselves in their formal dining rooms or sunken living rooms, not in the cramped rooms at the back of the house that most of them had.)
Back then, homes typically measured between 900 and 1,200 square feet. Today there are kitchens in big houses that are roughly this size. (I designed a few!)
Evolution of the area
In America’s Roaring Twenties of post-WWII, homes began to expand and technology spread from the space race to kitchen spaces. New appliances like dishwashers and microwave ovens arrived to make mom’s life easier – and it was mostly moms doing all the cooking and cleaning back then.
Moms who loved to cook probably watched Julia Child’s popular TV show in the 1960s and saw the talented chef prepare fabulous French cuisine on his kitchen island. It’s likely that many magazine covers with the kid’s kitchen appeared in initial remodeling conversations with potential designers (just like images from Design Milk, Pinterest, and Houzz appear in designer conversations today) .
Islands transform the triangle
Islands didn’t make the kitchen work triangle obsolete, but the well-equipped versions created more points of use. The second sinks and refrigerator drawers have become additional features that expand the possibilities of space planning. These three basic work areas of food storage, cooking and cleaning still exist, but they have become better equipped and larger.
Island can create their own kitchen work areas with performance elements that make them more useful and practical. Let’s take a look at each of the three essentials and the possibility of creating specialized zones for your health and recreation.
Food storage area
Your primary refrigerator is the heart of your food storage area. This is where you store most of your produce, as well as meat and dairy products, and leftovers to reheat. Most freestanding refrigerators combine fresh and frozen food sections. Some also have a purified water supply.
A food storage area should also include the storage of unrefrigerated food. If you’ve ever been in a poorly designed kitchen with the pantry on one end and the refrigerator on the other, you know the downsides of unloading groceries and preparing meals. (This describes my old Tampa home!) Put refrigerated and non-refrigerated food storage centers close to each other if you can!
Your food storage area may also have refrigeration and wine storage space for food containers and wine accessories.
Your cooking zone will include your cooking appliances (cooker and microwave or extractor hood, hob and ovens), but also the pots, pans, utensils and small appliances (for example, stand mixer and food processor) that you use for cooking. It can also have storage space nearby for spices and pot holders.
Preparation and cleaning area
Your cleaning area includes your sink and faucet, soap dispenser, dishwasher, disposal, recycling, composting and garbage cans. It also includes storage space for your dishes, glasses, cleaning supplies and cutting boards. It is convenient to have all of these items near the dishwasher for faster cleaning and unloading. It’s also handy if your serving set storage is located near your seating area for more convenient table setting and cleaning.
A larger kitchen gives you the luxury of creating specialized areas. Many include coffee centers, with a built-in counter or coffeemaker, coffee grinder, refrigerated space for creamers, and storage for sweeteners and serving pieces.
Another popular specialty area is the wine bar. In this configuration, the refrigeration of the wine exits the storage area into its own area, accompanied by storage for wine glasses, openers, corks and even specialty wine dispensers.
Baking has seen its popularity increase during the pandemic and having a designated cooking area can include a mixer elevator, convection steam oven, stone countertop, and storage for rolling pins, baking sheets and unrefrigerated ingredients.
Those dedicated to extraction can create an extraction area with a refrigerator drawer for produce, a juicer on its own pull-out shelf, cutting boards and a prep sink. This zoning concept can also apply to those who like smoothies or salads with specialized appliances and storage for those.
Even if you don’t plan on renovating the kitchen, you can still improve the functionality of your space by optimizing your storage next to the appliance or appliance where it suits you best – for example, utensils moving around. the cabinet closest to the cooktop with organizers – in addition to adding work lights above your work surfaces, putting a anti-fatigue mat where you spend the most time standing on hard floors, and generally decluttering and freshening up your kitchen.
It won’t make you a Julia Child, but it can make it easier for you to prepare healthier meals for yourself, your partner, and your own child!
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach, Wellness Design Consultant, and author of three books on design and remodeling. The last, Wellness by Design: a room-by-room guide to optimizing your home for health, fitness and happiness, (Tiller Press) published in September 2020. You can see Jamie’s WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS on Clubhouse the first and third week of the month at 1:00 p.m. Pacific / 4:00 p.m. EST and its new videos on its recently launched Youtube channel.
This article contains affiliate links, so if you make a purchase from an affiliate link, we earn a commission. Thank you for supporting Design Milk!