In the past, the kitchen “work triangle” was thought to be sufficient for all of the jobs that took place in the kitchen. That was then.
Not only do today’s kitchens often see more than one cook at a time, but it’s not uncommon to see entire families cooking, studying, playing, snacking, talking, emailing, entertaining, crafting, planning, gaming, and just plain living in the kitchen. Through necessity, the old fashioned “work triangle” has broken apart into several separate work centers, or zones. And each zone has its own job to do. Each job can be made easier by incorporating the right surfacing material such as marble for a baking area and wood cutting boards for a prep zone. Here are some of the most common zones now found in today’s kitchen layout and tips on creating them.
The Food Prep Zone- Most often positioned near the sink (or with its own sink, separate from the main cleanup sink), the food prep zone works best near trash and compost containers. It typically contains cutting boards, mixing utensils, knives, and plenty of countertop space.
The Main Cooking Zone- Usually consisting of the stove, cooktop and vent hood, this is also a good location for the microwave. It may contain a potfiller faucet, or offer proximity to an adjacent sink. It’s also a good place to store small appliances, like the toaster, toaster/convection oven, deep fryer, etc. It is also ideal for pans, pots, lids, cooking utensils, spices, oils, and oven mitts.
The Baking Zone- In addition to lots of countertop space, the baking center should have easy access to rolling pins, mixers, food processors, cookie sheets, baking ingredients, measuring cups/spoons, mixing utensils, mixing bowls, and a marble or granite countertop for rolling pastry.
The Eating Zone- This is a breakfast bar, built-in nook, table and chairs, or basically any eating surface, which also offers seating. An ideal eating zone offers storage for dishes, flatware, placemats, napkins, and maybe even some condiments.
The Snack Zone- Usually close to the refrigerator, this area contains snack foods as well as the tools they often require, such as a microwave, toaster oven, popcorn maker, micro-safe dishes, plus cup and dish storage. It should be a fuss-free area where children and guests can easily help themselves to a snack.
The Beverage Zone- From coffee to cocktails, this area varies depending on what the homeowners prefer or how they entertain. It’s not uncommon for the space to include a sink, cabinet storage for cups, a (built-in or freestanding) coffee maker or espresso machine, wine storage, a water cooler or filtered water dispenser, or refrigerator.
The Clean-up Zone- Important elements here include the main sink, dishwasher, waste disposal, trash/compost/recycling bins and kitchen towels. Other handy necessities include everyday dishes, flatware, trash bags, paper towels and a dish drying rack.
If you think this sounds like quite a bit more than yesterday’s “standard kitchen” could handle, you’re right. Of course there is some overlap between the various zones, but this increase in specialized zones has a lot to do with why we’ve seen a paradigm shift to more open living spaces.