The work triangle
Proper kitchen design takes into consideration several different factors. One important factor is what’s known as the work triangle. The work triangle is made up of three basic work centers, the fridge, the cook top, and the sink. A kitchen can have more than three work centers but for our purposes we will assume the most common three.
When laying out a work triangle incorporate landing surfaces around each of the work centers. For a main sink a minimum of 24″ on one side and 18″ on the other is recommended. A prep area with a minimum of 36” wide x 24” deep of counter space is recommended near the sink for a primary food preparation. A minimum 12″ of counter top on one side and 15″ of counter top space on the other side of a cook top is recommended. For a fridge, a minimum 15″ of counter top space on the handle side is recommended for a landing area.
Now that we know what makes up a work triangle lets look at the specifics. No single leg of the triangle is to be less than 4′ or more than 9′. The entire distance around the triangle should not exceed 26′. All of the above recommendations are from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
All kitchens must fall within the guidelines of the IRC code but great kitchen designs goes farther and follow the recommendations of the (NKBA).