Planning Your Kitchen Remodel – Part 4

The Work Triangle

Most designers agree that there are three main areas for an efficient kitchen: food preparation, cooking, and clean up.  They are called the “Work Triangle.”

Food preparation should be close to the refrigerator, pantry, sink, cooking utensils such as knives, cutting boards, bowls, etc. (i.e.: all those items that are used in food preparation.)

The cooking center includes the cooktop, the oven, spices, cooking utensils, oils, and cookware (pots and pans.)

The clean up area includes the sink, a place to initially stack dirty dishes, trash/recycle/compost cans, dishwasher, a rack for clean items not washed in the dishwasher, and dish soap. It also needs to be fairly close to the fridge, as you’ll be putting away left overs, condiments, etc.

The Distance Between Work Centers

According to National Kitchen Bath Association Guidelines, the sum of the distances between work stations (the sink, the refrigerator and the cooktop/oven) should be no more than 26’.  No leg of the triangle should be less than 4’ (as that can create a traffic jam) and no more than 9’ (as that’s too much time when cooking is such a time dependent activity.) 

What if your current arrangement of these features (the sink, the refrigerator and the cooktop/stove/oven) is less than 4’ or greater than 9’?  Well, there are two options: either live with the problem and deal with it as best you can, or move one part of this equation to a more advantageous place.  Moving appliances can be costly because you generally have to involve a plumber (for the sink, & refrigerator) and electrician (for the refrigerator and stove), adding to the costs of the remodel.  You need to decide which is the better alternative.

Arranging Your Kitchen

You’ll want to have counter space ideally on both sides of your refrigerator so that when filling it with your groceries, or acquiring ingredients for preparation you have a counter on which to place it.  

Placing garbage and recycling near your sink works well, as there will be waste that occurs in preparation of food.

You’ll want to have counter space for food preparation on both sides of your cooktop as well.  Having your dishwasher next to your sink makes it easy to load, and having cabinets that hold flatware and dishes near the dishwasher make clean dishes easy to put away.  

If you use your microwave to reheat foods regularly, then it’s best to house it near the refrigerator so leftovers can easily be placed into the microwave within one step.

Floor Plans

You need measurements once you’ve done a freehand drawing of your kitchen floor plan. Get a 25 ft. measuring tape. (Having two people do this is a huge help- one to measure and call out numbers, the other to record the measurements.)  If you don’t have anyone to help, it’s a great idea of either use a tape recorder on your phone or other device to tape yourself calling out placement and measurements of your current kitchen.  There are a lot of drawing programs out there on the web.  You could find one and download it onto your computer, or you could do it the more basic way by getting graph paper and a pencil.

Here’s an example of what you should end up with:


Design Styles

If you love the architecture of your home, whether it’s Craftsman from the 1930s or later, a Mid-Century Modern home built in the fifties or sixties, or a Victorian built before 1900, you can honor the design style of your home in your kitchen when you remodel.  If you’re not so crazy about the style, think about a “Transitional” style that takes the best of Traditional and Modern styles and puts them together.

                                                Photo from

The trend in the Pacific Northwest is for a more modern look with clean lines, and less decoration.  You might want to seriously consider this trend if you’re planning to sell your home in the next five years, as kitchens often sell homes. 

The fixtures, finishes, cabinets and hardware can all reflect your home’s architectural style while bringing in the most contemporary and energy-efficient appliances, designs and features. 

Consider what you will use as the focal point of your kitchen.  It should be able to seen when you step one foot into your amazing kitchen.  This could be the gorgeous veined granite you select for your countertops, the amazing view you see outside your kitchen window, or the unique backsplash you design for above your cooktop. 

                                        Photo credit:

Utilizing a color palette that blends seamlessly can visually expand a small kitchen to achieve an effective flow from one element to the next in your design.

If your home is traditional, whether it’s Victorian, Mediterranean, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, or Beaux-Arts, then consider using the following materials if you want to work with one of these styles of cabinets and pulls:

Raised Panel Cabinet Doors:








If your home is Arts & Crafts, also known in the U.S. as Craftsman and/or Mission style, then consider using the following materials if you want to work with one of these styles of cabinets and pulls:

Shaker Style (Photo by
















Flat Panel Cabinet door by DuraSupreme (below)

If your home is considered Mid-Century Modern, Modern, Scandinavian or other linear styles without much decoration, then consider using the following materials if you want to work with one of these styles of cabinets and pulls:




















Flat Panel Cabinet doors by DuraSupreme (below)

Kitchen Handles and Pulls: The Jewelry of the Kitchen

The newest trend in handles and pulls is to select two tone, which creates interest and avoids the “matchy-matchy” look when your appliances, sink, faucet etc. are all stainless.  The ones I selected in pictures above are all one brand, Amerock, because they had great pictures of individual selections and their installation in a kitchen.  There are, however, many, many different companies who make quality handles and pulls.  There are many, many options for finishes on this jewelry, as well:

  • Stainless steel
  • Polished Nickel
  • Chrome
  • Gunmetal
  • Golden Champagne
  • Oil rubbed Bronze
  • Black Bronze
  • Antique Rust

Most photos, unless otherwise noted are from

In Conclusion

Determine what you want, what you can afford both spatially and financially, and what’s going to work best for you and your family. If you need help determining how feasible some of your dreams and ideas are, contact us through this website, and call/send me an email or text. We can set up a meeting, either virtual or actual once the Corona virus pandemic has subsided.