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Before you begin planning the look of your kitchen, think about how it will work on a functional level. In addition to considering each component to be included, it’s worth asking yourself some general questions about the room: does it need to double up as a dining area? Or do you need to organize the space so that different people can do different jobs at the same time?


Make the placement of the refrigerator, or fridge-freezer, one of your earliest considerations, since it comprises part of the “work triangle”. Also bear in mind that if you want your refrigerator to operate at maximum efficiency, you need to position it slightly away from heat sources such as radiators and dishwashers, as well as the oven. If you want a refrigerator equipped with an ice dispenser, position it near the water supply so it can be connected.


The best place for the dishwasher is right next to, or beneath, the sink, so you can rinse plates and unstack them onto the drainboard if necessary. It can also be connected to the water supply and drain without extra plumbing costs.


When deciding which type of cabinet units you need, think about where the contents should be kept for easy access: for example, store your plates and bowls in a cabinet next to the dishwasher and position pantry ingredients near the range. Your units will also provide countertop space, so consider where you want this—some large kitchens have a separate island of units in the middle of the floor for this reason. Wherever the units are positioned, make sure there is space for the doors and drawers to open comfortably.


The sink is the second point of the work triangle, so think about its positioning early on, at the same time you decide where the cooking appliances and refrigerator will go. Remember that you need space in this part of the kitchen to be able to wash food or do dishes without impinging on other work areas. Make sure it isn’t situated in the main thoroughfare either.


Since the range is the third point of the work triangle, its ideal location will be partly determined by the relative positioning of the sink and refrigerator. Placing your range is simpler if you have an all-in-one unit combining oven and cooktop. If the cooktop and oven are separate, on a kitchen island, for instance, the oven should be in easy reach—right behind, perhaps, or in an adjacent run of cabinets. Since you may have to transfer food from the cooktop to the oven and back again, the two components should be no more than 4ft (120cm) apart. 


Positioning your kitchen table so it doesn’t impinge on your work triangle may prove to be difficult if space is tight, since, ideally, there should be 3ft (1m) of space for maneuvering behind every chair. If you do not regularly need to seat people on all sides of the table, position the table against a wall and only move it into the middle of the room when you need to set an extra place or two.

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