Kitchen Design Guide

Planning your kitchen takes care, forethought, and a little imagination. It can also be an exciting and enjoyable challenge.

The work triangle, still basic to kitchen design today as it was in the early half of the 20th Century, when it was first defined, is the arrangement of the three primary work centres in the kitchen: the storage/preparation centre (refrigerator), the cooking centre, and the clean-up centre (sink and dishwasher)

kitchen layout

But before starting on the design of the kitchen we must understand how the kitchen space is used. Kitchens are busy places, with frequent cooking and where many other household activities are carried out. So what do you do in your kitchen? How do you cook in your kitchen, what do you have in your kitchen and what do you want in your kitchen. These questions and many more need to be considered when designing that perfect kitchen.

What Do You Do in Your Kitchen?

People cook, eat, socialize, manage their household, and engage in recreational activities in their kitchens

  • Food-related activities
    Plan meals
    Eat in kitchen


  • Social Activities
    Talk on telephone
    Conversations with friends and family
  • Household Management
    Take vitamins and medicines
    Paperwork and pay bills
    Use a computer
    Pet feeding and care
  • Relaxing and Recreation
    Reading newspaper
    Watch television
    Crafts and games

When designing your kitchen each of the above activities are considered and if needed, their provision allowed for. At the outset the above list looks daunting. How can I fit all of these into my kitchen area? It will cost a fortune. etc. But remember each of the above activities does not require separate areas. Many are combined activity areas, i.e. eating areas may also be used for homework, paperwork and paying bills, conversations with friends and crafts and games. The size of each of the activity centres will be determined by the overall space available and how much you want to spend.

Many of the above activities require a worktop or table space and seating. More than one person may be in the kitchen at the same time, involved in different activities. They need to be accommodated.

Eating in the kitchen is a common activity, and most people consider it important to have an eating area in the kitchen. Even people who do not regularly eat in the kitchen consider an eating area important. The size of the eating area will be different for each the size of household. A family with children will require an eating area, yet a young couple may decide that a breakfast bar is all that is needed.

How Do You Cook in Your Kitchen?

In addition to the normal cooker the microwave oven is a major cooking appliance and is used frequently. The microwave oven has now become a central point in the flow of work in the kitchen. The adjacent worktop space is frequently used for food preparation.

The sink is also a major focal point for food preparation. The worktop space adjacent to the sink is used for a variety of food preparation activities as well as for clean up.

Most people use and need a generous amount of worktop space. There is usually a primary and secondary preparation area.

The trash is frequently accessed during food preparation. The trash should be centrally located, and easily accessible, preferably under or immediately adjacent to the sink.

Hand dish washing of at least some items is frequent. Pre-rinsing dishes in the sink, before loading the dishwasher is common.

The types of food preparation activities are diverse. Preparing food from scratch, baking, and grilling outdoors are the most frequent.

modern kitchen

What Do You Have in Your Kitchen?

Almost every household has a refrigerator, cooker, and microwave oven in their kitchen.

Dishwashers, washing machines and tumble driers are also common in kitchens.

People have many small appliances, and use some of them frequently. Some small appliances are stored on worktops (four is typical), but many have to store outside of the kitchen.

What Do You Want in Your Kitchen?

People generally express satisfaction with their kitchens, even if they want improvements. People who had input into their kitchen designs, or have had an opportunity to remodel their kitchens, are more satisfied.

If people had a chance to improve their kitchens, they simply want MORE -- more space, more storage, more cabinets, and more counter space. Efficiency and organization are also considered desirable.

  • Larger, more space, bigger
  • New cupboards, better cupboards, better storage
  • More worktop space, improve worktops
  • New appliances, add appliances
  • Improve layout, change arrangement
  • Add eating area, enlarge eating area
  • Improve accessibility
  • Add an island
  • New flooring
  • Add pantry, larger pantry
  • Better lighting
  • Improve colour or aesthetics

Summary of Design

Kitchen design should reflect how you really use your kitchen. The kitchen is a place for serious and frequent cooking as well as many other household activities. You keep many items in your kitchen and need a spacious, well-designed, efficient, and functional space.

Kitchens need to offer flexibility to adapt to different users. Different households use kitchen space differently and have differing needs for space, storage, and layout.

There is often more than one person in the kitchen. One person may be cooking while additional people socialize or engage in other activities. In many households, especially with children, larger preparation areas are needed.

The amount and arrangement of worktop space needs to be considered. Adequate worktop space adjacent to the sink and microwave oven is needed for food preparation. The number and variety of items stored on kitchen worktop needs to be considered when deciding the amount of worktop space.

The microwave oven is a major cooking appliance and it's placement needs careful consideration. In many households, it should be a point in the work triangle.

Placement and accessibility of the trash container needs to be deliberately planned as part of the work flow of food preparation. Near the sink appears the most efficient location.