• November

    9

    2016
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Evolution of the Work Triangle

Evolution of the Work Triangle

The kitchen work triangle is a concept used to determine efficient kitchen layouts that are both aesthetic and functional. Primarily, tasks in a home kitchen are carried out between the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator. So, these items, and the imaginary lines between them, make up what kitchen experts call the work triangle. The idea is when these three elements are near one another, the kitchen will be more efficient and reduce wasted steps.

“While the house as a whole is among the more traditional and conservative elements of society, the kitchen is quickest within the house to reflect new concepts of comfort and convenience. It is here one finds technology changing fastest. Yet the kitchen’s traditional role as the hub of family life remains”

Merritt ierley, the comforts of home
Retro 1930"s Kitchen, Evolution of the Work Triangle, Kitchen Remodeling

Evolution of the Work Triangle

In the 1920’s, the lady of the house spent an estimated 50% of her day performing kitchen work. Lillian Gilbreth, American psychologist, engineer, consultant, and educator, was an early pioneer in applying psychology to time-and-motion studies. She sought “to provide women with shorter, simpler, and easier ways of doing housework”. She did this so to enable women to seek paid employment outside the home.” Consequently, Gilbreth was instrumental in the development of the modern kitchen.

In the 1940’s, Gilbreth’s “circular routing” became known as the kitchen “work triangle”. Today, this remains a concept designers still rely on.  Moreover, it was to replace the loose-fit kitchen of many traditional homes: a large room with discrete pieces of furniture around the edges. These might include, for example, a table, freestanding cupboard, an icebox, a sink with a drying board and stove. Ingredients, utensils and cookware might be across the room, or even in a separate pantry.

Conventionally, the kitchen sink, refrigerator, and cooking centers are linked by an invisible single work triangle.

From Triangles to Zones


Think of kitchen zone design as an extension not a replacement of the traditional work triangle theory.  Zones are really just the natural evolution of the kitchen work triangle.

Kitchen Zones

Since the 1940’s. quite a few things have changed. The original functions described with the kitchen triangle still exist within the modern-day kitchen. However, technologies (like microwaves and other appliances) and the way kitchens fit into our modern lives have changed. Many kitchens now accommodate more than one cook, so cooking zones were developed.

Zones help kitchens maximize space and create an efficient, organized, and beautiful environment.  They also improve the organizational flow allowing your kitchen to meet your lifestyle, culinary interest, and aesthetic preferences. Allowing for commercial style appliances, zones for various functions outside of the traditional triangle, such as prep stations that might include another smaller sink or bake center. Separate from the main food prep areas, these additional zones might overlap creating secondary triangles.

Kitchens today provide much more than meals.  Today. kitchen’s are a gathering place for friends & family, the homework center, and even a home office space.  Understanding your family’s unique needs is the key to a comfortable kitchen space.  When planning for a kitchen remodeling project, consider creative zones like:

Family Command Center


Pet Zone


Our kitchen remodeling services range from simple upgrades to complete transformations. From simply updating cabinets and counter tops to moving walls to create an open concept, Merrell Building has the know-how.  Let us provide you with innovative design concepts, recommend layouts, and cabinets and accessories that will help maximize your space. No matter what you may be considering for your kitchen remodeling project, Merrell Building can help you through your options.

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