Beyond the Triangle: Why You Need a Multi-Zone Kitchen

In the early 1900’s, the budding concept of the kitchen work triangle placed the sink, stove and refrigerator at opposite points to maximize efficiency. There are many online accounts that fully explain the evolution and benefits of the work triangle. Although the work triangle has relevance today, people’s needs have changed. These days, there are often multiple cooks at one time, plus the kitchen is a gathering space for family and friends. We ask a lot more of our kitchens now than when the work triangle concept was initiated. So, how should we be rethinking our kitchen layouts for modern times?

The solution is to adopt a multi-zone kitchen design. The basic idea is to create separate work areas (zones) based off the function and the task at hand. Ultimately, the work triangle is incorporated and multiple work zones are layered within it. Kitchens have evolved into multipurpose rooms and setting up kitchen zones gives everyone space to do it. The modern kitchen incorporates more appliances than ever, which furthers the need for multiple work zones.

Zones are commonly divided into four areas: consumables, cleaning, prep space, and cooking. If you have a larger kitchen, you may want additional zones for small appliances, hot beverages, or even medication. Also consider other activities that happen in your kitchen. Where will people sit for doing homework, crafts or bills? Does the family pet need an area for meals? Do you need space to entertain or play games?

Here are things to consider adding to your multi-zone kitchen layout:

  1. Prep sink: alleviates the problem of waiting for someone to finish with the main sink
  2. Secondary small trash bin: for example, placed in the coffee zone
  3. Small undercounter snack and beverage refrigerator: convenient for children or guests

Helpful online resources regarding multi-zone planning are abundant, and Houzz is a good place to start.

Jessica Falk is a Designer and Showroom Manager for R. Tews Construction & Design, Inc. a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog Posts are often submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information, please call 715-835-2526 or email

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