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Think Outside the Triangle

From work zones to feng shui, our experts weigh in on the latest trends in kitchen design.

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Photo 1 of 3Multiple sinks in a kitchen are very useful for having more than one person helping prepare a meal.

Multiple Sinks(1 of 3)

The work triangle, created to save money on building materials and to make cooks more efficient, has inspired kitchen design since the 1940s. It standardized kitchens by placing the sink, stove and refrigerator at opposite points, allowing cooks to move from storage and cleaning to cooking with a simple step-and-turn. But Lee Stahl, a New York-based designer and owner of The Renovated Home, declares that the concept of the work triangle has become "as outdated as a stove with a pilot light."

Evolving Kitchen Design
As kitchens have grown, says Lee, they have evolved into multipurpose rooms, where family and friends gather to socialize, work and cook together. Consequently, kitchen design is evolving from a triangle into zones, giving several cooks the space to work without bashing elbows.

Jeff Schwartz of Newton, Mass.-based J. Schwartz Design says that changing cabinet styles have encouraged the shift. "With the movement toward less uniform cabinetry and a more freestanding furniture feel," he says, "there is the opportunity for discrete separate zones for prep and cooking, baking and cleanup."

Doubling Up
The kitchen triangle was built around the single cook. Since families are more likely today to share the load, setting up kitchen zones gives everyone a task and a place to do it. For example, Jeff often creates a two-sink arrangement for his clients: one for prep and one for cleanup. "The cleanup sink can be set with the dishwasher in a separate zone," he says, "maybe even within a distinct pantry space."

In a growing trend, homeowners are installing multiple refrigerators: the traditional standup model and one in a bar or island, often in the shape of a drawer. That way, hosts can chat to their guests while mixing a drink or the kids can grab an apple without getting underfoot.

Separating the cooktop and the oven is another option Jeff recommends. Since most people don't bake as often as they use the cooktop, getting the oven out of the way helps better use space. Ovens can, for instance, be either mounted under a counter or in a wall, he says, "away from the action."

Next Photo: Kitchen Zones