The best way to begin planning a kitchen design is to consider the position of the basic elements; the cooking equipment, the sink and the refrigerator. The formula for a convenient and safe working space between these items can take the form of one unbroken line or a closely related ‘working triangle’.
This work sequence needs to be confined to a distance of 5-7m (approximately 16-23ft) and remember that you will have to include enough storage space for the materials and utensils you will use to prepare and cook food. Even if you only intend to make tea in your kitchen, you should still examine the relationship in the allotted space between the kettle, water supply, tea and sugar, cups and refrigerator.
Ultimately, however, your choice of working triangle is likely to be determined by the size and shape of your current kitchen and whether or not you like that.
The in-line layout, which comprises one wall with a run of at least 3m and no more than 6m (approximately 10-19ft), where worktops are interspersed with the sink and cooking rings, is probably the only answer for long, narrow rooms. One wall of a studio apartment would also be ideal, as you can hide the kitchen when not using it – behind hinged, fold-away doors or a long, sectioned screen.
With its design origins aboard ships, smaller yachts and airplanes, the galley kitchen has since been adopted in domestic interior design because it is ideally suited for small kitchens, where every inch is crucial. Counters run along two parallel walls with the sink and stove on one side, with a worktop between them, and the food preparation area and refrigerator on the other. The sequence is reasonably flexible, of course, even if the space between the elements is restricted. The corridor between the two counters needs to be approximately 1.4m (4ft) wide to provide easy access to under-counter cupboards and drawers.
An island layout is very traditional, reminiscent of huge farmhouse kitchens or the ‘below-stairs’ basements of grand houses, where the central table is also a serious work surface for rolling pastry, icing scores of freshly made cakes, or shelling peas by the bucketful. It is still the preferred option of many serious cooks who want lots of work surfaces. The additional central work station may even incorporate a small sink for vegetable preparation and even cooking rings, though this might necessitate an extractor hood too. It could also include a space that accommodates the more social side of the kitchen’s character: everybody is always drawn – as if by magnets – to where the busy cook is working and an island kitchen is an ideal solution if your friends or family like to congregate to talk and eat together.
In L- and U-shaped layouts the working triangle works between two or three walls, an arrangement that works equally well in either a small or large room. Bear in mind, though, that however spacious your room, the triangle still needs to be contained within its optimum span. If you want to combine either alternative with a dining area, which can often work well, you will have to position the table carefully, in order to give it a feeling of space and ease, whilst ensuring that you do not interrupt or block the working area with unnecessary obstacles.