Creating a Functional Kitchen Layout

with Work Zones

Do you find yourself having to reach for a pot from the cabinet at the far end of your kitchen or just don’t have enough room to place a serving platter on the counter next to your stove? Insufficient counter space between appliances, the placement of major appliances and the lack of well positioned cabinets and drawers, all add up to a dysfunctional kitchen.  If your planning to update your kitchen, the key to having a functional one is understanding the type of kitchen layout and its relation to work zones (prep, cooking and storage). With this in mind, you can create a dream kitchen that is both beautiful and functional.

For the last  fifty years,  a triangle has been used to demonstrate the set up for a more functional kitchen, with each major appliance positioned at each point of the triangle. The layout of your appliances end up dictating your work zones. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)  guidelines states that each side of the triangle should be no longer than 4 feet  or longer than 9 feet. The total or area of all three sides should  be 26 feet or less. If you have a small kitchen with only one wall, it is recommended that the sink be positioned at the center of the triangle. Each layout has its challenges,but there are many ways to improve the efficiency of these work zones with your current kitchen layout.

A U-Shape layout is considered to be the most functional kitchen set up because it allows for efficient work zones with counter space and storage on all three sides. Usually there is an appliance on one of three walls or an island is used in the center for one a sink or cook top. An island can also be used as an additional prep area to connect a larger kitchen with this layout.  Counter space for prep at least 15 inches wide allows for efficient work zones. The placement of items related to the task, such as cooking utensils and pots, next to the stove or directly across from it, is an example of a good work zone. For a more functional cooking zone, deep drawers can be added for easy access, versus storing them at the bottom of a cabinet. This type of drawer is becoming increasingly popular, replacing a double or single cabinet door with an easy-glide track system.

After Cabinet reface
An L-Shaped Kitchen with White Shaker Featuring arched door front panels and quartz counter top.

A L-shape kitchen layout  and work zones utilizes a space with two adjacent walls and doesn’t take as much space as a U-shape layout. The short end of the L, usually has major work center at each crook, to better work zone activity. The addition of a island adds prep space or area to dine or socialize. Also the counter space between the sink and stove allow for prep and wash zone areas.

A G-shape kitchen is similar to the L-shape layout but with a peninsula, which functions in many ways as an island would.  The interior of the peninsula can be used as a prep zone and also provide for storage.

A galley style kitchen may not offer an island but with proper placement of work zones, you can create plenty of prep and storage areas. Storage baskets and easy glide systems can allow for easy access to vegetables and pots near a cook or wash zone. For the ideal amount of prep space the sink  should be positioned at the center of this layout with the refrigerator and stove on the opposite wall. There are a variety of storage solutions to make each zone more efficient. Read More.

Straightline Reface (2 of 4)
Straight Line Kitchen After refacing

The straight line layout often found in smaller spaces or in older homes, can offer sufficient prep and storage if cabinets storage is organized in relation

to the work zone. For example, placing everyday glassware and dishes in kitchen cabinets adjacent to the sink and dishwasher creates a more efficient wash zone.  For opti

mum prep space, it is recommended that the there be at least 15 inches and no less than 26 inches between the sink and stove, allow for work zones for each ( wash and prep zones)

.   NKBA guideline recommendations state that if you have  a straight line kitchen design, you can position the sink between the refrigerator and stove. This would offer the most functional design with ample prep space in between appliances.


The work zones of your current kitchen should function accordingly to basic concepts, such as providing a minimum of 15 inches of counter space adjacent to main appliances such as the sink and stove top. The lack of storage and prep zones can make even a large kitchen feel crammed. Before you consider relocating your appliances,  think about what items are needed for your everyday use and how you can reorganize them based on zone activity. Prep & Wash, Cooking and Storage are the work zones that allow for a more functional kitchen. Some solutions include: changing hinged cabinet doors with ones attached to pull-out slides or replace them with large drawers. This alone can make your existing layout and work zones more functional.

When planning your kitchen remodeling project, consider your budget, time frame and disruption to your life.  With refacing you can utilize the existing cabinet boxes and create an updated look for your kitchen with less time and mess. If you absolutely need to relocate an appliance, think about the sink, since it is considered the most important connection to the other work zones.

The cost of moving a sink or stove will increase your budget, so you may want to consider a reface/remodel combination to create your dream kitchen. This entails relocating appliances with a licensed plumber and or electrician, but keeping a section of the existing cabinets. Matching doors and veneer, such as hardwood, can be added to the refaced section of the kitchen as well as the portion with new cabinet boxes. NY Kitchen Reface can meet your needs and budget with a Kitchen Cabinet Refacing/Remodel by adding new cabinets to the existing layout or building an island to increase prep or storage space. This can also be accomplished with either a new or the existing layout.

For less stress and mess, choose NY Kitchen Reface. Call Us at 347-850-2425 or use the contact form. We look forward to helping you create your dream kitchen with less stress and mess.

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