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The Kitchen Triangle: Managing Workflow

December 29th, 2014 | 2 min. read

By Guest Author

Following is the first guest post in the 7 year history of the Yale Blog. Understanding the kitchen triangle simplifies kitchen planning immeasurably. It’s a good read. As always, feel free to comment below.

The classic kitchen triangle, detailed below, is one good example of a design. No one ever lost a permit or went to jail because their kitchen did not implement this triangle. It is just a sensible way to plan an efficient kitchen.

The three major work areas of the kitchen are the cooking space (stove and oven), sink, and refrigerator. The kitchen triangle is formed from these three points, and the points should not exceed a maximum distance from each other.


Basis Behind The Triangle

Because cooks constantly move between these three points, sometimes with hot pots full of liquid these paths should remain unimpeded and the points not be too far apart.

  • Distance between Points:All three legs of the triangle should not total more than 26 feet.
  • Length of Legs:Legs should be between four and nine feet to prevent a grossly imbalanced triangle. Providing length limits means the triangle looks like an actual triangle.
  • Impeding the Triangle:Distances between points of the triangle should be straight and unimpeded by tall items like refrigerators or pantry cabinets.
  • Shorter impediments are allowed, but can invade the triangle by no more than 12 inches. A kitchen island, because it is short, can intersect a leg of the triangle. However, if more than 12 inches of the island are in the triangle, it is considered an impediment.Any additional work area – prep sink, microwave, etc. – should be between four and nine feet from the closest point of the kitchen triangle.

kitchen triangle work and walkway aisles

Work and Walkway Aisles: Do Not Block Traffic

Designers distinguish between work and walkway aisles. Work aisles are used by cooks or helpers to access from one part of the house to another via the kitchen, yet have nothing to do with cooking.

Work Aisles: Minimum width recommended is 42 inches for a single-cook kitchen, which describes most kitchens. A multiple-cook kitchen should have aisles of 48 inches, minimum.
Walkway Aisles: No walkway routes should pass through the kitchen triangle. Minimum width recommended is 36 inches.

kitchen triangle do not block traffic

Execution Of The Kitchen Triangle




Last Words

If you are building or renovating, the triangle should be the basis of your kitchen plan. It will allow for efficient movement for cooking without wasted or unimpeded space. It’s a good method to simplify your kitchen.

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About the Author
Lee Wallender has been remodeling homes since 2000, when he transformed a falling-down World War I-era farmhouse into a safe, comfortable, cheerful home.

Now based in Seattle, WA, he began writing about home remodeling for About Home Renovations in 2006. Lee is interested in vintage design, architecture, travel, and bicycling.

Lee regularly contributes to

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Guest Author

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