What are zones and how do you design with them in mind?
Kitchen work zones, what are they?
"Zones" are areas in your kitchen where the work occurs. Work in the kitchen is broken down into three primary work zones. Everyone has these three zones, everyone!
Prep Zone...This is the zone where food prep takes place. Food prep can be anything from making a sandwich to preparing a multi-course meal. It includes cleaning/rinsing food, cutting, mixing, processing, etc. For many people, especially those with small kitchens, their Prep Zone is also their Baking Center for rolling out dough, etc. 70% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent prepping. It's the most often used and longest used zone in your kitchen!
Cooking Zone...This is the zone where you take the food you've already prepped and apply heat...cooktop, oven, MW. Only 10% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent actually cooking. This is the least used Zone, relatively speaking. Think about it, you usually don't spend the entire time standing in front of your oven or cooktop watching it cook. Sure, there are some things that do have to be stirred constantly, but most things are not. And even then, you usually still spend more time prepping before you begin cooking.
Cleanup Zone...This is the zone where the dirty dishes are handled! Dishes, pots, pans, etc. 20% of the work and time spent in the kitchen is spent cleaning up.
OK, so now we know what the primary zones are. So now, how do we design a kitchen keeping them in mind?
Prep Zone...works best when it contains a water source and is next to or across an aisle no more than 48" wide or so from the Cooking Zone. Trash & recycle bins should also be in the Prep Zone.
Cooking Zone...works best when next to/across from the Prep Zone (see Prep Zone). It's also nice to have a water source nearby as well as trash & recycling nearby.
Cleanup Zone...works best when separated from the Prep & Cooking Zones. This can be on the opposite side of a one-sink kitchen from the Prep Zone or it could be in a completely separate location (the latter usually only works well if you have two sinks). Obviously, it also needs a water source and the DW.
What else do we need to keep in mind regarding planning a kitchen and zones?
Dish Storage...works best when it's near the DW and near the serving/eating locations (island, DR, Nook, etc.)
Food Storage...works best when it's near the "action". It's nice to be able to store staples, etc. at their point-of-use, so food storage can be spread throughout the kitchen. E.g., flour, sugar, etc. in a "Baking Center", spices in the Prep or Cooking Zone, Cereal close to where breakfast is eaten, etc. If you have a dedicated pantry, it's nice to have the pantry near the point where the groceries enter the house as well.
Refrigerator...works best on the periphery of the kitchen so it's easily accessed by people working in the kitchen as well as "outsiders" looking for a snack without the "outsiders"...