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Design Trends

It is All About the Work Zones!

by Addie Merrick-Phang 

The standard in kitchen planning has been “The Triangle” for decades, and it has served us well! Keeping the placement of the fridge, sink and cook top just a pivot away has cut down on foot traffic in kitchens without most chefs even realizing it. This is the kind of forethought you hire a kitchen designer for. You don’t want to worry about having the sink too far away, or how to maximize your counter space without needing to hike from once appliance to another. You just want the peace of mind that when your remodel is complete you will be able to navigate your kitchen perfectly! “The Triangle” has helped us designers do just that for a long time now, and we thank it. However, the needs placed on today’s kitchen far exceed the advantages of the traditional single working triangle.



Todays’ chefs need their kitchen to preform multiple functions, sometimes for multiple cooks. The kitchen can be an entertaining zone, a snack shop, a bar, a home office, just to name a few. As the list grows it is apparent that the three pointed triangle is no longer sufficient for modern kitchens. Now, I am not saying to abandon the triangle all together, as it still has its function. I am just saying that we need to expand upon it. We now need kitchen zones, each possibly with their own triangle.

Let’s work through a modern kitchen layout with a few of the most popular zones.


Most families today have more than one chef. Whether your sue-chef is your partner, aging parent or a budding young chef they need space to work with you and not on top of you. Thus the prep space has evolved! This centers around a smaller sink, typically used for washing and prepping vegetables.  This zone should have some counter space dedicated solely to it. Depending on who your sue-chef typically is you may want to consider having this counter top extend off the counter so you have room for a stool. Most importantly the prep zone needs its own triangle that does not cross paths with the main triangle of your kitchen. You don’t want to be weaving in and out with hot pans and sharp knives.

double triangle



Entertaining is also a huge part of today’s kitchen. While the island and peninsulas have served us well, they put our guest right in the middle of EVERYTHING. When you are cooking an elaborate meal or trying to knock out a half a dozen passed hor d’oeuvres this can be a bit overwhelming. So recently we have seen the resurrection of the wet bar. That’s right the 70’s are making a comeback, just without the avocado appliances!  Now in the past the wet bar has been in a different room completely separate from the kitchen. But as we know all too well the kitchen is the heart of the home and your guests will congregate there regardless. So instead of putting your bar in the basement or in the den make it a zone in your kitchen! Having this separate space allows your guests a point to congregate and helps to keep some of the party traffic out of your way while still allowing them to mingle with you in the kitchen itself. It also lets you have a bar area without necessarily needing another sink!

wine & snack bar examples

(L-R) Derrick’s Wine Bar & Jarid’s Snack Bar


Children, too, are in the kitchen more and more. Having a snack zone to keep them out of your triangles can make your life a lot easier. It requires only a small amount of square footage so if you have small children this is an easy way to make the most of your space. Many appliance companies are capitalizing off of this trend. For example, LG has a new fridge with a double door so juice and energy drinks can be easily reached. In addition, almost every appliance brand has a version of the microwave drawer. This appliance is the perfect additional to any snack zone! It’s at the perfect height for kids to use without needing your help. Most importantly the snack zone should have easy to access, well, snacks! Therefore, it is typically located next your fridge or pantry.

Fridge & microwave drwaer

LG fridge & a microwave drawer


With the growing rates in memberships at places like Sam’s club and Costco and the high demand of the growing youth it is not unlikely that you will be buying all of these snacks, beverages and prep items in bulk. In which case the storage zone, aka the pantry, has become an extremely important zone in today’s kitchen. In the past the pantry was an afterthought. Even if your home has one it’s unlikely to be very close to your kitchen. Typically they have ended up in the basement, laundry room or in some cases even a cramped stair case, yikes! Today you want easy access to your pantry items. You don’t want to be luging bulky items up and down the stairs or having to reach for them across the uneven stairs! Make sure to allocate some space for a pantry in your kitchen layout. In addition to having your pantry within reach you also want it to be flexible. As your families’ needs change so do your storage needs. Whether your pantry is a separate room or a tall cabinet adjustable shelves are a necessity!

Large walk in pantry offers a plethora of storage for any surplus.

Lu’s Pantry

Now this may seem like a lot of zones for one kitchen but, have no fear, it is completely workable! While trying to fit all of these zones into your space may make your head spin it’s the kind of challenge a kitchen designer lives for! Here is an example of a modern kitchen layout I just put together that includes all of the zones we just discussed.



Remember when you are working with your kitchen designer to make sure and let them know what zones are important to you and your family. That way when you do step into your newly remodeled kitchen you will know, without a doubt, that it is perfect.

Explore Merrick’s Kitchen gallery and contact us today to schedule a consultation with a member of our design team.