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Choosing the Right Kitchen Layout
If you are planning to build a new home, this is an exciting time for you. You are trying to find the perfect floor plan that will best serve your family’s needs and reflect your lifestyle. As you look through floor plans in search of the right design, consider the kitchen layout. Think about how you use your current kitchen and what functions and tasks you need your kitchen to accommodate in your new home. Do you need a larger kitchen than your present one? How would you utilize an island? How many people in your family enjoy cooking and do you ever cook together? Do you wish you could have built-ins such as a desk or hutch? Do you entertain often?
The kitchen should be an efficient and pleasant area for meal preparation and handle activities whether you are helping the kids with homework while you bake cookies kids or hosting a sophisticated dinner party with 20 guests. It is important to be familiar with the kitchen work triangle and the basic kitchen layouts in order to choose a floor plan that is best suited for the way your family lives.
The Work Triangle
The kitchen work triangle consists of the distance between the refrigerator, stove or cooktop and sink. Each of these serves as a focal point of the kitchen forming the three points of the triangle separated by different distances. When designed properly, the kitchen work triangle delivers the most efficient food preparation area and layout in the kitchen. An efficient work triangle minimizes the number of steps the family chef takes between the three focal points from the beginning of meal preparation to the end of the clean-up stage. Expert designers suggest the distance from the refrigerator to the stove to the sink and back should be between 12 and 27 feet with each leg between 4 and 9 feet. In addition, it is important to remember the appliances should be easily accessible, the island should generally be 4 feet wide allowing people to work around it, walkways should be at least the standard width of a hallway and all work stations (work surfaces, appliances and countertops) should be well lit with task lighting. Keeping these points in mind and considering your family’s lifestyle, review the following basic kitchen designs to help you select a blueprint with the floor plan and kitchen of your dreams.
The following two kitchen layouts work well in homes where space is very limited and functionality is a must. Commonly found in compact floor plans like cabins and cottages, garage apartments and studios, space saver kitchens only offer the basics.
- Galley Kitchen – Sometimes referred to a corridor kitchen, this space-saving kitchen resembles a short hallway with cabinets and appliances found on two opposite walls. The walking space between the two walls is usually comparable to that of a standard hallway or slightly wider. The best galley layout places the range or stove on one wall with the sink and refrigerator on the other offering a logical workflow. Closing off one end of the kitchen can control traffic issues if need be. If you do have both ends open, it is common to place the refrigerator at one end for easy accessibility by family and friends. The galley kitchen is suited of one cook.
- Single Wall Kitchen – When space is at a premium, consider the single-wall or I-shaped kitchen. This kitchen layout is often found in homes designed for narrow lots. Cabinets, countertops and appliances are all arranged on the same wall, and the kitchen generally opens to another living space such as a breakfast nook or dinette making the kitchen feel a bit more spacious. For the best workflow and maximum efficiency, the sink should be situated between the refrigerator and cooktop with the refrigerator door swinging open away from the sink. This allows for easy transition from one workstation to the next.
Small and Large Home Kitchen Designs
Weather you have a large or small home, these two kitchen styles are very efficient and commonly found in a wide variety of residential homes. Both of these kitchen designs generally open up to an eating area such as a breakfast nook with a family gathering space nearby and can vary in size depending on the available space.
- L-Shaped Kitchen – One of today’s most popular kitchen designs, the L-shaped kitchen consists of two legs or walls, a longer one and a shorter one. In general, the refrigerator is situated at one end and the cooktop or range is placed at the other end with the sink located in the middle. If there is ample room, a meal-prep island is easily incorporated into the design. The L-shaped kitchen usually offers good traffic flow and can sometimes accommodate more than one cook.
- U-Shaped Kitchen – Often referred to as the step-saver kitchen, the U-shaped kitchen incorporates the use of three walls instead of two offering more cabinet and countertop space while accommodating storage needs and providing a little extra workspace. Often there is even extra room for storage of small appliances. The stove or cooktop and refrigerator are usually placed on opposite walls with the sink in the middle making it easy to shift work from one area to another making a very efficient work triangle.
Kitchen Layouts for Moderate Sized and Larger Homes
When there is plenty of space available, one of these kitchen layouts is sure to please you delivering an abundance of workspace and cabinet storage. Typically, all three designs work well if you have more than one cook in the house, or perhaps you and the kids enjoy cooking together regularly. Two work triangles allow more than one chef to be in the kitchen together without getting in one another’s way. With these more spacious layouts, you also may find thoughtful extras such as a built-in desk or a butler’s pantry connecting to the dining room.
- G-Shaped Kitchen – An extension of the U-shaped kitchen, this kitchen layout is becoming more and more popular in today’s larger homes. The G-shaped kitchen provides a fourth wall or leg that can be used for additional counter workspace, cabinet storage, a breakfast bar or storage of small appliances. Many times, this layout incorporates a center meal-prep island delivering more than enough room for one cook to work. The G-shaped kitchen only has one point of entry eliminating chaos. This layout prevents others from using the kitchen as a pass-through or short cut to another room making this space the gourmet chef’s own piece of heaven.
- Double Island Kitchen – Two islands are better than one when it comes to tasks of meal preparation and the joys of cooking. A kitchen with the double island arrangement generally incorporates one to three walls for cabinet and counter space with at least one or two of the major appliances placed along the walls. Two islands are located away from the main kitchen walls further defining the main kitchen space. The islands are generally different in size and shape and are situated to accommodate the best traffic flow, thus allowing multiple chefs to work in the kitchen together and freely move from one workstation to another. One of the islands may accommodate the main sink or cooktop while the other island may serve as a snack bar or simply just as an open work surface for meal preparation. Other layouts may place the main sink on one of the walls and a veggie sink in one of the islands. When choosing the snack bar arrangement, the eating bar is generally positioned at the island farthest away from the main kitchen walls allowing family and friends to snack and chat with the chefs without getting in the way.
- Double L-Shaped Kitchen – Well arranged for a large or busy family, multiple chefs and entertaining, the double L-shaped kitchen usually features one L-shape made by two walls and the second L-shape formed by an island or perhaps a wall and a peninsula counter. No matter what the arrangement is, there are generous stretches of countertop and an abundance of cabinets. Often there is plenty of room in the center for a work island. With this kitchen layout, there could easily be two sinks or two ranges along with a few other options. Two work triangles exist most easily with the double L-shape design. One triangle might include a sink, the refrigerator and an open counter for meal preparation while the other work triangle might include another sink, the range and oven and the easy-to-access island. Two cooks can be working at the same time on separate menu items or together on a meal that requires a lot of preparation and work.
By understanding the work triangle and considering your family’s needs and wants, it will be easy for you to select a blue print with just the right kitchen layout. For more information about kitchens, please read Five Trendy Kitchen Features.
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