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The changing triangle
Cooks can get in the zone when it comes to their kitchen


The kitchen work triangle has become a personal thing. The cookie-cutter perfect pattern of stove to refrigerator to sink is changing right along with the family lifestyle.

Itís also multiplying at the same time.

The new work triangle, now deemed ergonomic work stations, designates prep and cleanup areas, baking and back kitchen areas. "The traditional triangle has changed because you have a busy family with two or more people working," says Terri Schmidt, co-owner of Dream Kitchens Inc., Delafield and Madison.

The traditional triangle is just not functional for todayís families. "We try to create a space where someone can work in their tight triangle space yet someone can be in, for instance, the clean-up area. You have small, multiple work triangles within the space," explains Schmidt.

Molly Madsen, vice president of AB&K Bath & Kitchen in Greenfield and Mequon, agrees. "The work triangle will still be a basic element. How the kitchen has evolved has really changed, though. It used to be designed around one person. Itís now more about creating efficient work zones. Itís very individualized on how they (the homeowners) are going to use their kitchen," says Madsen.

Homeowners, whether building or remodeling, need to look at what their needs are in the kitchen space. "Think of things that are part of your daily life and set up your zones according to that," says Madsen. One change she is seeing are double islands ó one for prep and clean-up and one for the cooktop.

Also, nonessential items such as crock pots, popcorn makers, etc., move into a separate area and away from appliances used on a daily basis.

Madsen warns when creating your work zones to be careful how personalized you get. "You donít want to go too out of the box or you will have a tough time selling your home in the future."

Sometimes space and budget can create limitations when creating this new work environment. "If you are remodeling in a smaller home, than you combine some of these spaces," says Schmidt. "To make it work, create the functional storage spaces and get the items you need in close proximity to where you are working."

The result should be an environment that works for you and your family. "Itís creating personalized functionality," says Madsen. 

Four main work stations:

1. Prep Zone ó Refrigerator drawers for produce, meats, etc., are in this area as well as a sink and cooktop.

2. Clean Up Zone ó This space includes a dishwasher, large sink, refrigerator and dish storage.

3. Baking Zone ó There is an oven and storage specifically for baking supplies. Also a spice rack, and baking utensils are stored here. The countertops may be lower in this space to make it easier to use a rolling pin.

4. Back Kitchen ó The back kitchen is a pantry and storage area. It also houses additional freezer storage and counter space.