When I was a kid one of my most favorite books of all time was:  Cheaper by the Dozen, written in 1948 by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  It’s a fun and fascinating autobiographical story about efficiency experts and their 12 children around the time of 1920. 

Cheaper By The Dozen

The idea of efficiency was a newfangled concept for most people.  The experts would ask people to perform certain tasks and time them as they did so.  They would do a time and motion study to analyze all the steps that went into doing that task and then figure out how to increase productivity.  The best known experiment by Frank Gilbreth, the dad, involved a bricklayer.  Scrutinizing the task, he reduced the number of steps involved in laying a brick from 18 to 5 or so.  Think about it.  That bricklayer was about 3x as fast as before because of this.

Later on, we discovered ergonomics, which is designing equipment and workplaces with the user in mind.  Which chair is best if you are typing at a computer all day?  Where should the keyboard be placed?  The answer can reduce strain and increase productivity!  Isn’t that nice…

So how does this relate to the kitchen?  As the kitchen is generally the most used room in the home, an efficient kitchen is vital. 

 Kitchen efficiency depends heavily on the kitchen triangle:  the areas of food preparation, cooking and fridge/storage.  Its important that these 3 areas be placed in proper relation to each other.  If they are too close, then the workspaces are cramped.  If they are too far apart, then you’ll be wasting time and energy getting to all 3 points on the triangle.

 Another important aspect of the work triangle is that it be outside of regular household traffic.  No one should have to walk through the work space in order to get to another room in the house.  Plus nothing should be in the way of the triangle.  Rick was in one house where the dining table was in the center of the kitchen AND you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the family room.  So everyone had to walk around the table to get from the stove to the sink and from the hall to the family room.  What a mess!

 If you are big into entertaining, then its possible that you’ll need 2 separate kitchen triangles.  That’s why you’ll frequently see 2 sinks in a kitchen, allowing more people to work efficiently.

Definitely needs two triangles! Notice TWO islands!


Ever been in a kitchen where the fridge or oven is at the edge of the peninsula or island?  And no one can get in or out of the kitchen when the door is open?

Lousy oven placement

We recently were in a beautiful, large kitchen with a huge island in the middle – great for a buffet dinner – but the fridge and stove were on one side and the sink was on the other.  You had to walk around the island every time you needed something out of the fridge.  If any kitchen begged for a 2nd sink, this one did.

 Sometimes people redo their kitchen and figure that a peninsula equals high class so they’ll stick one in regardless of whether it fits!

 Here’s a picture of a kitchen island that is so big we joked that you could land planes on it!  Seriously, its way too big.  You can barely even reach the center without lying on the thing!  Looks impressive but isn’t efficient.

Land your plane here! http://www.sunset.com


There are tools for design that will help you get the best design for your money.

Of course, I advocate hiring a professional, because they can analyze the whys and wherefores of your likes

 For instance, years ago we had a client, Chad, who was digging in his heels at every suggestion Rick had regarding an addition and remodel to his house.  Both Rick and the client were getting pretty frustrated because no matter what Rick suggested, Chad hated it. 

 Finally, Rick asked what Chad liked best about his house and Chad said “The morning sun coming in when I’m having breakfast”.  Well, that enlightening bit of info completely changed how Rick approached the redesign of the house.  Needless to say, Rick now asks that question earlier in the design process!

Looking good!


Here are some sites that have good info on kitchen triangles, specifications, layout suggestions and ergonomics…good luck!  😉


http://ergonomics.about.com/b/   Chris Adams’ blog