There's much more to designing a kitchen than picking out counter tops, tile, and appliances. Before you get down to those kinds of details, you need to consider the layout of your kitchen. Allow us to introduce you to the kitchen work triangle.
The work triangle is a standard "equation" for the best way to lay out a kitchen. At each point of the triangle sits one of the major kitchen features: the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove/oven. This layout allows for better flow and more efficient usage of space. Once the work triangle is established, you'll find that it's much easier to decide how to organize other kitchen components in an equally efficient way. Let's take a look at three categories for organization within the work triangle.
First, ask yourself what you will need within arm's reach of each area. You'll probably want to keep your silverware and other utensils near the dishwasher and sink. This makes easy work of putting them away after washing. Store pots and pans in a cabinet or drawer near the stove. Keep zip-top bags and other storage items near the refrigerator. Carefully consider what you'll need in each area and plan accordingly. Those items that are used less often should be stored outside of the work triangle (like in a pantry).
The most ideal area for prep work is near the sink. Make the most of this area by allowing 18-36 inches of counterspace on one or each side of the sink. If you don't have much counter room to spare, an island is a great way to extend your preparation area. This is why kitchen islands are so popular! Situated in the middle of the triangle, the island can serve as additional space for whichever area needs it at any given time.
All cooking tools and appliances should be arranged around the stove and oven. Keeping these related items together will also help you keep your prep areas clear of clutter. You should ideally leave 21-36 inches on either side of the cooktop as well. Have plenty of storage nearby to hold things like spices, potholders, and cutting boards.
Now that you have a rudimentary idea of how a kitchen should be laid out, you should be able to customize the work triangle "equation" to suit your needs. Do you have other ideas for setting up an efficient kitchen?