Is this finally the end of the kitchen triangle?

kitchen sink and oven

You don’t need to be an expert on kitchen interiors or laminate kitchen worktops to be familiar with the kitchen triangle. It’s a concept that’s underpinned the design of countless kitchens for just under a century, from dearly treasured domestic kitchens to fast-paced commercial and industrial kitchens. But now, after all those centuries, there’s a good chance that we might finally be seeing the end of it. And so we find ourselves asking – is this finally the end of the kitchen triangle?

What is the kitchen triangle?

OK, so let’s start with a quick crash course or refresher, just in case you’re not familiar. The kitchen triangle was first developed all the way back in the 1920s by Lillian Moller Gilbreth, the world’s first industrial psychologist and a pioneering force for improving efficiency in homes and workplaces. (She’s often been described as “a genius in the art of living”, to give you an idea of who we’re dealing with here).

Seeking to optimise kitchen layouts, Gilbreth proposed the idea of the kitchen triangle, which would encompass the three most important areas of the kitchen; the stove for cooking, the sink for cleaning, and the fridge for snacks. She was very specific in saying that the sum measurements of the triangle shouldn’t be more than 26 feet, with each side measuring somewhere between 4ft and 9ft.

Now, there’s a reason this idea has stood the test of time for about 100 years now. It helps you to organise your kitchen more effectively by ensuring that everything is easily accessible when and wherever you need it. That ultimately makes cooking a lot less stressful, especially when you consider that timing is absolutely crucial for certain types of dish. (For example baking, which has notoriously unforgiving parameters for failure.)

So why might this be the end for the kitchen triangle?

In a nutshell, because society has moved beyond it. Or, at least, some parts of it.

For starters, for some kitchens, there’s simply not enough space to implement a kitchen triangle. That’s especially true in spaces like narrow galley kitchens. So right from the off, we know it’s not the be-all and end-all when it comes to efficiency, as no shortage of galley kitchens do just fine without the inclusion of a triangle.

But the same can also be said for kitchens on the other end of the scale too. Open plan kitchens are the epitome of spaciousness, and increasingly common these days. What’s more though, modern open plan kitchens represent some seismic societal shifts away from the old way of doing things. While the traditional kitchen triangle might have been just fine for individual housewives who found themselves carrying out the majority of the cooking, modern open plan kitchens might have as many as three or four people using them at once – cooking different meals, or someone one mains and someone on dessert, or simply cleaning up after a party the night before.

Complicating this is the fact that lots of kitchens have become more diverse and personal in their contents and appliances, which means that one-size-fits-all solutions like the kitchen triangle simply might not be as applicable as they used to be any more. Not everyone has a single oven anymore, or a single sink and tap, or even a single drinks cupboard. (But we’re not here to judge.)

Homeowners with these sorts of kitchens might turn to a different solution in place of the kitchen triangle, and that’s kitchen zones. What this does is essentially expand the kitchen triangle from the three zones of stove, sink, fridge, and expanding them to five:

  • Consumables storage (normally the fridge or freezer)
  • Non consumables storage (plates, utensils)
  • Cleaning (sink)
  • Food preparation (chopping boards, mixing bowls)
  • Cooking

This type of setup generally works better for bigger kitchens, especially when these five zones are all arranged across one wall.

open plan kitchen

But the kitchen triangle might have a point

Now, while the kitchen triangle might not have quite the same universal relevance as it used to, that might not mean it’s quite dead yet. Even though it might be gradually being replaced by kitchen zones, it’s still the basis of this new system, and by that merit you could argue that almost every large-scale commercial or industrial kitchen still does incorporate some element of it.

And of course, there are still plenty of domestic kitchens which remain perfectly well-suited to the original concept, both in their overall size and the nature of their design. So maybe we shouldn’t be asking whether this is the end of the kitchen triangle, but rather how it’s going to evolve to continue meeting our needs. In that sense, it’s just like plenty of other elements of kitchen design!

Whether you’re planning on sticking with the tried-and-tested kitchen triangle for your own culinary space at home, or you’re thinking of trying something a little different, you can be sure of one thing – you’ll find a great range of laminate kitchen worktops to choose from right here at Savoy Timber, up to and including our range of sophisticated contemporary solid compact worktops. Why not take a look around, and see which ones take your fancy?