Magic Kitchen Triangle In Kitchen Design

OK, so you’re in the process of designing your dream kitchen and you want to get it perfect, but where should you start? Sometimes it’s best to start with the basics, get those right and the rest of the kitchen design will follow. We always recommend basing your kitchen layout around the “magic kitchen triangle” : it ensures that your kitchen layout is practical and ergonomic. In this article we’ll discuss what the magic triangle is, give you a bit of history on the principle and how you can use it in your kitchen design.

kitchen triangle

What is the magic triangle?

It is important that you think about making your kitchen design as efficient as possible; anybody who has tried to cook a meal in a badly designed kitchen will appreciate the difference. Your kitchen design is something that you will have to live with for years to come, you can’t simply move it around like you would with your lounge furniture. There is one thing that should unite all kitchens regardless of their shape: the magic kitchen triangle. It’s no accident that the triangle is synonymous with kitchen design, it is mathematically the most efficient shape there is and works perfectly in a kitchen environment too. Kitchen designers have used the principle for decades and it has certainly stood the test of time. Just look at any kitchen design magazine and you’ll notice that the sink, fridge and cooker are all arranged in an easily accessible triangle.

magic triangle

When cooking in your kitchen you have three key activities: using the sink, using the cooker and using the fridge; these activities act as the three points of your triangle. Effectively, the main aim of the triangle is to bring all of the main kitchen activities closer to the cook, but without placing them so close that it feels cramped. It is important that the person cooking can get on with things without being interrupted or interfered with, for example if they have to walk around a kitchen island to get to and from the fridge. However, for some people the three areas may be different, you may use a dishwasher rather than a sink or a microwave rather than a cooker, just substitute accordingly.

History of the magic Kitchen triangle

For the curious: the magic kitchen triangle was developed by the University of Illinois School of Architecture. It is based on scientific management principles that aimed to improve kitchen efficiency. At the time this principle was developed kitchen appliances were bulky items and space was a very precious commodity. The triangle was then used by kitchen designers across America before then filtering out to the rest of the world. As time has moved on, appliances have become smaller and space has become less of a concern, but the triangle has remained a core principle in kitchen design.

How do you plan your magic kitchen triangle?

kitchen triangle

Now that you understand what the magic triangle is let’s look at how it should be used in your kitchen design. Below are a few tips when it comes to thinking about your kitchen triangle:

  • The triangle should be no more than 7 meters in total (outside perimeter) and be no less than 3.6 meters. If there is less space than this, then there is not going to be enough room for food preparation between the appliances. It is recommended that you leave at least 30cm of workspace either side of your cooker for food preparation.
  • The larger your kitchen, the larger the distance you have to walk between your appliances. If you do have a large kitchen you could consider breaking it up into a seating and a cooking area. This keeps you within the maximum recommended triangle size whilst making your kitchen into more of a social hub.
  • When you sit down and design your kitchen it is always best to start with the sink. This is because the sink is usually the hardest kitchen element to move with plumbing to take into consideration. Keeping the sink in one place will make your kitchen installation easier and cut down on the costs.
  • Appliances such as dishwashers should be kept by the sink, microwaves should be kept near the cooker and freezers should be kept by the fridge. Separating your kitchen into these zones will mean that regardless of what appliances you have the magic triangle will work for you.
  • Try to keep the magic triangle away from walkways. When you’re cooking the Sunday roast you’ll be glad there is no one in the way.
  • The triangle should not cut through the kitchen island if possible. If it must cut through the kitchen island, then try to make it no more than 12 inches. The purpose of this is to prevent your kitchen island from getting in the way, it’s fine for the first 50 times, but having to walk around it for the 500th it’ll grate on you.

All of these rules depend on the layout of your house. With new houses the architect will consider the kitchen layout from the start, but with renovations you just have to work with what you have. Of course, sometimes you are limited to a kitchen on a single wall; for these kitchens we recommend that you place your most important task (usually the cooker) in the middle and the sink and fridge either side.


Everyone is different and every kitchen design is different; each space needs to be thought out individually and based on the person who is actually going to use it. A good kitchen doesn’t just look the part; it needs to work for the person that has to use it. Of course, the magic triangle is not a law that all kitchen designs must follow, but it does make your time in the kitchen that little bit easier. It is certainly worth considering before embarking on any kitchen renovation projects.  Why not start by working out the magic triangle principles on your current kitchen?


This guest blog was written by Designer Kitchens for Less, the UK based supply only retailer for designer kitchens. Visit us at

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