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Kitchen Layouts: Effective Optimization of Space

Posted by
on December 02, 2014 at 02:32 PM

As a passionate cook, I know what I need in my kitchen. As do all those who work in that space. We need to know the stuff around us; to the extent that even blindfolded we would know which shelf to dunk into, to get which cookware, and which drawer to slide out, for what ingredient! As an architect therefore, my kitchen layout would be ideally arranged with the three main areas in a perfectly triangular arrangement. Alas! It is rare to get the liberty to create a space of our own, with the freedom to create a kitchen as lavish as can be! So, let’s get real. It isn’t quite possible to get that perfect layout in an average home. But you can certainly make what you have, work for you!

© Courtesy of Internet Sources

What activities does a typical kitchen handle? Washing, Chopping and Cooking – studying these three activities, kitchen layouts have evolved; and the triangular arrangement has emerged as the optimal work-flow. Are you building a new home? Are you moving into a ready apartment unit? Are you remodelling? What is your budget? What are your time-constraints? Incorporating all these factors will bring you closer to a feasible kitchen design solution – that can become a space you can enjoy!

The best way forward is to ‘optimize’ the space available! Make what you have, work best for you. The dimensions of the room; the position of the windows/doors; the placement and size of the platform/s; the location of the sink and the refrigerator; the amount of storage required to be added; the light fittings; the exhaust; the appliances like food processor and microwave – all elements need to be factored in! In an existing kitchen, these are not random or whimsical choices but pre-determined by the services and infrastructure provided. But very often, it is possible to get the ‘work triangle’ in place!

The work triangle is a work-flow diagram made by drawing an imaginary straight line from the center of the sink (usually attached to the chopping counter), to the center of the countertop to the center of the refrigerator, and back to the sink. A few guidelines for getting the right work triangle: 

  1. the sum of the sides should not exceed 26 feet, with each side 4-9 feet long
  2.  the work triangle should not cut through an island by more than 12”
  3. for optimum efficiency avoid other activities from cutting across the triangle

All these together generate a good kitchen layout. Popular kitchen layouts include: one-wall kitchen;  galley kitchen; U-shaped kitchen; G-shaped kitchen; and L-shaped kitchen; some of which also incorporate an island. 

In an existing kitchen, it is almost impossible to change the positions of the plumbing lines; and therefore you are ill-advised to tamper with the same. Such modifications have the potential to impact other apartments in the building, and thereby may compromise the entire structure’s functionality. Similarly, lighting systems too are more or less decided, with the wires concealed and plug-points and switchboards fitted! And these are usually well-planned and adequate; so unless absolutely imperative, it is better not to fiddle with it. Basically, try to use the entire setup without any major alterations and fitments.


What you can do, however, is choose your cabinetry wisely, select colours that appeal to you, and accessorize cleverly to spruce up the ambience! You would need professional help for some of the things; but as the user of the space get involved in the design process as well. Do your research well, check out stores, go online and search websites that offer décor ideas and design tips – and explore various options before zeroing in on your final choice!

In all the rough diagrams and finished sketches used here, one can see the "process" that a student of design/practicing professional goes through! And all efforts are directed towards getting that perfect 'work triangle' in place - whenever we have the luxury of space and opportunity. 

Mumbai-based architect Dhruva Samal has uploaded one such perfect example of the work triangle - on TFOD! Using a smart and simple material board, the spacious kitchen is easy to maintain and would be a delight to work in! For more from Dhruva: https://www.tfod.in/Profile-dhruvasamal

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