Every decade, kitchen design becomes more complicated. It’s gotten to the point where some residential designers subcontract the work to a specialist.
If you are a humble owner-builder, do your kitchen preferences even matter anymore? Of course they do. If you’re building a house, you should certainly have a say in matters affecting kitchen design — even if your ideas are different from those of the experts.
Before we focus on details that make a kitchen green, let’s quickly review the basics.
The oldest kitchen design principle concerns the triangle between the refrigerator, sink, and stove. According to traditional wisdom, you want this so-called “kitchen triangle” to be fairly compact (but not too cramped). Most sources advise that each leg of the triangle should measure between 4 and 9 feet. Ideally, your house design keeps foot traffic away from this triangle. (In other words, the normal path from the living room to the stairway shouldn’t be through the kitchen.)
These days, cooks realize that the kitchen sink serves two functions: food prep and clean-up. Larger kitchens sometimes separate these functions by providing two sink stations — one station (usually near the refrigerator) for food prep, and the other (usually near the dishwasher) for cleanup. If you have this type of kitchen — a good kitchen to have if your family includes two cooks — your triangle has become a quadrangle.
Some families use their microwave oven as often as their range, and these families claim that their microwave deserves status as an important apex in the kitchen geometry. If you agree, then your quadrangle has become a pentagon.
Of course, you’ll need to plan for adequate counter space on the handle side of the refrigerator, on both sides of the…