For a kitchen remodel, the greatest constraint to your creativity is the layout of your kitchen. If you are so fortunate to do a tear down and rebuild, then you have a lot of flexibility in this area.
In any kitchen design, the most important aspect is functionality. Even the show piece kitchens nowadays still retain the basic form and function of traditional kitchens. The best way to define functionality is to consider the kitchen work triangle. The kitchen work triangle is made up of three main stations of the kitchen – the refrigerator, sink, and range.
The idea of the kitchen work triangle is to have good separation between the three stations so that there is no cross-traffic which may interfere with the chef. Also, the triangle is the most efficient shape, allowing the shortest distance traveled between these stations.
While keeping the kitchen work triangle in mind, there are a few basic layouts from which other layouts can be derived.
In a small kitchen, sometimes you have to sacrifice the kitchen work triangle due to lack of space. You see the “wall layout” style in lofts and small studio apartments. This is where all three stations are lined up against the wall. This is only workable if there is the kitchen is in an open area unobstructed by walls or furniture.
Another small kitchen layout is the “corridor layout” which has stations on both sides of a narrow hallway. The difference between the corridor and wall layout is that the corridor layout actually satisfies the kitchen work triangle concept. This layout also gives you more cabinet space as you have two walls for cabinets instead of one. The disadvantage of the corridor layout is that passing traffic in the hallway often conflicts with the chef cooking.
For larger kitchens, you can use the “L-shaped layout” or the “U-shaped layout”. The L-shaped kitchen is in a corner of the house with two adjoining walls like the letter “L”. Usually the refrigerator would be situated closest to the public space while the sink is in the back. This allows easy access to the refrigerator by others and not run into the chef. The U-shaped kitchen is like the L-shaped except it’s joined by another wall forming a “U” shape. The U-shape kitchen best demonstrates the kitchen work triangle because only one station is placed in each wall creating an ideal workspace for the chef.