Good ergonomics are more important in the kitchen than any other room in the home. Get it right and you’ll create a smart space with good flow where every meal is cooked smoothly and in style.
The ‘kitchen work triangle’ refers to the relationship between the stove top, fridge, and sink, which were traditionally arranged at points of an invisible triangle. These days we also have more appliances, such as microwaves and dishwashers, so it’s often impractical – or downright impossible – to plan your kitchen according to the triangle.
Having enough room between work spaces such as benches is essential – too little and you will feel cramped, too much and you will constantly be stretching and reaching for hot, heavy pans. A distance of 1050 millimetres is often regarded as the minimum, while 1200 millimetres is ideal for most. More than 1400 millimetres between benches and fixtures can result in ergonomic inefficiency and wasted space.
Keep plates and glasses on either side of your dishwasher, or even behind it if you have two facing benches. This lets you unstack your dishwasher with smooth, swift movements. Housing crockery in wall-mounted cupboards directly above a dishwasher forces people to lean over it when it’s open and reach up awkwardly to put away clean dishes.
The standard bench height of 900 millimetres has become a common culprit of back pain for more statuesque souls. These days 920 millimetres is often preferred, and 950 millimeters or even higher is not uncommon. It’s important to position wall-mounted appliances above your head height. The minimum clearance in Australia between the stove and range hood is 600 millimetres for an electric stovetop or 650 millimetres for a gas stove, though most manufacturers recommend a distance between 700 and 750 millimetres, which can be increased. Likewise, consider reducing the width of wall-mounted cupboard doors so they don’t open too far.
Instead of ferreting inside dark cupboards looking for a lost utensil, it makes sense to simply open a drawer and see its contents at a glance. Drawers are ideal for storing anything from pots and pans to plates and perishables, just opt for maximum weight bearing systems. Gone are the days of stretching into deep corner cupboards, thanks to carousels that spin internal shelves or systems such as the LeMans, which swing the contents of your corner cupboards into the kitchen.
While there is no single solution to fit every kitchen if you don’t want to wear your water think twice before pairing a deep sink with a high arched spout or choosing a short sink and a long tap.
Dimmable LED downlights coupled with a beautiful pendant provide a general ambient glow, though without task lighting you may find you’re slicing food in the shadows. To illuminate important bench space and work zones, install LED downlights or strip lighting under wall-mounted cabinetry. With the amount of time we spend standing up in the kitchen, the ergonomic benefits of a sprung floor cannot be ignored.