Which Kitchen Layout Fits Your House?

You've decided what kind of cabinets you'll get and how much shine you want on the flooring. But where will everything go? Read about the different options in kitchen shapes, and create a kitchen that will fit your home.

The work triangle, present in virtually every kitchen, defines the distance between the refrigerator, the range or cooktop, and the sink. If you keep the triangle as compact as possible, you'll reduce your travel time between these key appliances and make your kitchen more enjoyable all the way around. As a rule of thumb, each of the three "legs" of the triangle should be between 4 and 8 feet long.

Islands have become almost standard in new kitchens, but it helps to keep a few things in mind when planning this central work space. Islands work best if your kitchen is an L-shape, opens to a gathering area, and measures at least 10x10 feet. Equip the island with a cooktop or sink to make it an all-purpose work area, or outfit it with chairs or bar stools for informal visiting and dining.

The L-shape kitchen, the most common plan, requires less space and offers more flexibility in the location of workstations than other kitchen layouts. This plan works well when the kitchen adjoins a casual space, especially a combination of kitchen and great-room, provided your appliances don't create a lot of distracting noise.

This is another plan that works well if your kitchen opens to a gathering space. You'll have three walls for workstations and storage, and foot traffic will move across the open end of the room. Pay particular attention to your work triangle here; if the appliances are too close together, you'll be hemmed in at the corner. Consider a half wall to open the room to the gathering area.

Also referred to as a corridor plan, this floor plan works best if your kitchen connects two rooms. Consolidate as much counter space as possible near the most-used appliance. To create more storage space, consider a bank of base cabinets or a pullout tower pantry. Use restraint; it's easy to close this plan in.

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