When you start planning the layout of your kitchen, it’s mighty important you understand how much space do you really have to dedicate purely for storage. And we all know, it’s not all that easy to estimate it on paper.
Let’s try to break it down to help you design the kitchen of your dreams, that doesn’t fail to deliver in terms of ergonomy and quality.
Before you start arranging the kitchen, you have to know the basics. Without proper knowledge, after you’re done, you might find out that what seemed like a perfect layout, in reality, is a total disaster. Apart from kitchens that are, in fact, tiny, many people who claim their kitchens are too small to be practical and enjoyable, are actually just arranged the wrong way. If you don’t want to be one of these people, read on.
To rephrase a popular saying, the kitchen is the heart of your home, and storage is the heart of your kitchen. If you mess up the layout of your kitchen, you won’t be able to use it optimally, and considering the amount of time you spend in your kitchen each day.. yeah.
In this article, we will cover all there is to know when designing the storage zones in your kitchen – stay with me to avoid the aforementioned problems.
Zones of kitchen storage
First, you have you understand the concept of kitchen storage zones. Interior designers discern three zones of storage in a kitchen – the refrigerator zone, the sink zone, and the range center. It’s around these three zones where you place your smaller storage compartments, but we will elaborate on that later.
These zones are where different types of your kitchen activities take place:
The refrigerator zone
This is where all the initial food preparation takes place, as well as where you mainly store it right after you bring the raw products home. For the best ergonomy, it’s crucial you situate your refrigerator near your kitchen entrance – this way, you won’t have to travel across the entire kitchen when you come back from your local grocery. Logical, right? All in all, the refrigerator zone consists of:
- The fridge – the most important element of this zone, for obvious reasons. Everything you situate around it has to be easily accessible while you stand in front of the fridge.
- The countertop – it’s considered to be a part of the refrigerator zone, as this is where you put down your grocery bags, where you put your food after you take it out of the fridge, and where you prepare this food. Because of that, it should be next to the fridge.
- Dry food storage – be it a pantry or just a set of shelves for your dry food, it should also be near your fridge because it plays a similar role to the fridge.
- Anything else you use for food storage – if you like to keep your food in special baskets or other kinds of containers, it’s also near the fridge where they should be situated.
The sink zone
As this is the second zone we should plan out and design in our kitchen, it comes after the refrigerator zone – and as such, should also start right after the first one ends. What is this zone all about?
The sink zone is where the most of the kitchen activity takes place because it is here where you will be doing all there is to do with your dishes. This is also where you will be disposing of your leftovers and other types of dirt, and for that, you’ll also need a bin to be somewhere around. What exactly does the sink zone consist of?
- The sink – of course, the most important element of this zone. However, it is not only the sink that should be here. For the best access and ergonomy, situate your dishwasher right below the sink, and your cleaning agents somewhere around in a cabinet. This is where you should be handling the cleaning of your dishes, so whatever it is you use to do that, it should be stored somewhere near.
- Dishes – as well as glasses and other kinds of flatware. Perfectly, all that kitchenware should be stored somewhere near your sink, in a cabinet or in specially organized drawers. It’s crucial that these are not far away from your sink and the dishwasher, or else you will have to take long, back and forth walks around your kitchen.
- Cutlery – as well as all kinds of cutting boards, and whatever you use when serving food. Just as the dishes, they should be near your dishwasher, so that you’re able to clean them fast and effortlessly.
- Bin – should be stored near your dishwasher, perfectly right in the same cabinet as the cleaning agents we mentioned earlier.
The range zone
The last zone, oriented around the process of cooking your food. Depending on the layout and concept of your kitchen, the placement of this zone may vary – for example, if you plan on getting yourself a kitchen island with the cooking functions, it might be in the middle of your kitchen, or even right where the kitchen ends and where the living room starts, if open kitchen is what you’re going for.
Be it as it may, here is what you should store all the things you use right before cooking your food, and by that we mean spices and sauces, as well as the actual appliances for cooking your food – like a microwave, for example.
Make sure you have enough of work space available here, for the food preparation, as well as easy access to the dishes, for serving the food.
The range zone typically consists of:
- The cooking surface – the main element of your range zone, with a range hood over it. Typically, this needs quite a lot of space to be dedicated just to it, so keep that in mind. Also, below it, most likely you will want to install an oven, for maximum ergonomy, but that’s up to you – your layout might differ.
- The ovens – and by that we do not only mean actual ovens, but also different kinds of appliances for cooking your food, that are similar and shape and functionality – this might be a microwave or something like that. Anyway, it’s good to have an additional type of cooking appliance, in addition to your cook surface, so dedicate enough space for it.
- Cookware – all your pans, pots and whatnot should be situated somewhere around your cook surface and ovens. It’s not a good idea to take trips around your kitchen when the food is ready to be taken off the fire, so make sure you do not store your cookware anywhere else.
- Tableware – clean dishes, ready to be used for serving food, should also be stored near your cook surface. Dedicate some cabinets or drawers with organizers for that purpose, and situate them nearby.
Okay, now that you know how to separate your kitchen into the three main zones, and how the storage should be organized in each of them, it’s time to talk a bit about the space needed to design said zones. Before you get past the planning stage of your kitchen design, it’s very important you already have enough of space planned and dedicated for all of the zones, or else your kitchen might not be a very ergonomic place. Take a look at the picture below, and we will try to explain what the ideal size of each zone should be.
Now, these zones we mentioned and explained are also usually called the work triangle. Each leg of this triangle, so to speak, should have between four feet minimum and nine feet maximum. If you bring all the three legs together, it should be around 13 feet minimum, but no more than 26 feet.
In the case of all the cabinets and other stuff between these legs, they should be separated by no less than 12 inches. Remember to not clutter the space, not to hinder the workflow – keep the triangle free of any obstacles which could get in your way during food preparation and cooking.
These are the rough estimates for your three kitchen storage zones, but of course, every situation is different – we do not know how big of a family do you own, or how often do you cook for your guests. To figure out the optimal size, we will show you a few examples below. In the end, it’s you who has to decide how spacious your kitchen will have to be, to meet your needs.
This is an example of a compact size kitchen, best for a small family, and designed the way to allow one cook to use it at any time. There is no much space left when you use it, and not much space separates the different storage zones. Yet still, you can clearly see the ergonomy that’s going on here – refrigerator near the door, which aren’t visible in the picture but should be where the picture ends, then the sink on the opposite end, and the range at the pinnacle of the triangle.
We can see a bit more of space in the kitchen presented to you in this picture, so if you have a bit bigger needs, this is the size you should be going for. Same rules as previously, but this time there is a bit more space for storage, as well as more space around the sink zone.
In this picture, you can see one of the larger kitchens – a perfect choice for a big family or someone who likes to throw parties in his kitchen. A lot of space to be used, a gorgeous kitchen island, and plenty of work surface. Notice how the rules stay the same – the fridge on one side, the sink on the opposite, and the range in the middle. Yet, this kitchen actually makes you walk quite a bit if you want to carry something from the fridge to the sink, so it’s worth it to remember that larger doesn’t always means easier to use.
This sums up our guide to storage and work zones in the kitchen – hope this article helps you design an ergonomic, wonderful kitchen which meets your needs!