Ergonomics of the kitchen: 6 tips for organizing space

Competently think over the filling of the kitchen is often more important than the bedroom or bathroom. Ergonomic principles will help you plan your kitchen design correctly

The process of cooking depends on many factors: it should be convenient and not take too much time. All this makes the thoughtful “stuffing” of the kitchen especially important. Let’s figure out together with an expert what principles of ergonomics to apply in kitchen design, taking into account modern trends.

Table of Contents

    What is ergonomics

    Ergonomics is a set of principles about the arrangement of objects in space for maximum functionality and comfort for occupants. Ergonomics plays an important role in interior design. Its principles are applied taking into account the needs of the customer from the moment the repair project is discussed.

    The term ergonomics was first used by the Polish scientist Wojciech Jastrzemowski in 1857 in his work “The plan of ergonomics, i.e. the science of labor based on truths taken from the natural sciences”. The discipline was further developed in the 1920s when complex techniques began to appear. The first research in this area began to be carried out in Japan, Great Britain, and the USA. In the 20th century, technology was actively becoming more complicated against the backdrop of the development of trade, which forced manufacturers to think about improving the ergonomics of their products in order to promote them in a highly competitive market.

    The phrase “ergonomic design” is actively used in the description of modern gadgets, such as joysticks for games or smartphones. This characteristic implies that the equipment is comfortable to hold in your hands. The task of ergonomics in relation to the design of premises is to increase the usability of objects and space.

    Basic principles of kitchen ergonomics

    Some principles of kitchen ergonomics are universal, others can be adjusted to the composition and needs of residents. Basic recommendations include:

    • the width of the front doors. The ideal opening is 80-90 cm. Check out the offers on the market, for non-standard (too narrow or wide) openings it is more difficult to find suitable doors at the right price. It is important that the doors open conveniently – in the right direction, without hitting other objects and not blocking the entrance to neighboring rooms;
    • free space. If one person lives in the apartment, the width of the passage in the kitchen can be 90–100 cm. In each individual case, it is worth considering the complexion and wishes of the residents ;
    • cabinet height. On average, cabinets are hung on the wall at a distance of 40–60 cm from the countertop. Deciding on a suitable option is simple: residents should effortlessly reach the bottom shelf, standing on the floor;
    • dinner table. One person will be comfortable at a table 60 cm wide and 40 cm deep. In the center there should be a space of at least 20 cm wide for arranging dishes;
    • hood. The lower edge of the hood should be at a distance of about 90 cm from the stove so that the residents do not touch her head while cooking;
    • dishwasher. Doors of cabinets and appliances should open freely. It is better to leave 110–120 cm of empty space in front of the dishwasher so that it is convenient to load and remove dishes with the door fully open.

    How to arrange furniture in the kitchen

    To organize the space in the kitchen, you need to consider its size. If the room is combined with a living room or is part of a studio apartment, think about zoning. Often there is a desire to put a refrigerator outside the kitchen so as not to take up space, but this will complicate daily life. On the other hand, it may be more convenient for someone to eat at a table close to the stove, rather than carrying cooked meals across the room. When planning the optimal space, you need to think in advance about which habits can affect ergonomics.

    Designers are guided by the work triangle, the standard principle of a functional room. The main points of the kitchen – a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove – it is advisable to place them at an approximately equal distance from each other. The distance between them also matters: the minimum is 1.1–1.2 m, and the maximum is 2.6 m.

    Arrangement of furniture can be performed according to one of the following principles:

    • linear, which implies a kitchen set located against one wall. Such a layout is not always convenient in terms of the distribution of working areas, so the headset should be supplemented with a bar counter and surfaces near other walls. If the layout allows only linear placement of furniture, you can install the sink in the middle of the headset, leaving a suitable distance to the refrigerator and stove;
    • double row. Two walls are occupied; the sink and stove are opposite the refrigerator. This is a suitable option for small kitchens, which allows you to cook almost on the spot;
    • angular. The optimal planning principle with the location of the sink in the corner of the headset. So that the side cabinets do not “eat up” the area, preference should be given to beveled corner modules;
    • u-shaped, tripartite. The most spacious option requires the appropriate space. In this case, it is important to remember the distances for the free opening of the cabinet and dishwasher doors. A passage will be required between them;
    • Island, in which the headset is located in the center of the room. If the distance between the walls allows, any of the above layouts can be supplemented with a kitchen island. For example, the headset is located against one wall, and on the other or in the center there is an additional countertop or even a hob.

    How to arrange a work area

    The working space in the kitchen includes areas for storing and preparing dishes, and for washing food and dishes. Its organization must be thought out and discussed with the designer at the planning stage. A separate issue is the choice of suitable materials, which should be moisture-resistant and easy to clean. The walls above the work surface are best finished with a tile backsplash or tempered glass or metal panels. Plastic materials are highly flammable: do not place them near the stove.

    Standard 85 cm high table tops are suitable for most people 165-175 cm tall. But if the person is shorter or taller, it makes sense to consider the appropriate individual options. When there are several people of different heights in the family (there are children), a special step or stool will come in handy.

    Typical cabinets – from 70 to 100 cm high, in exceptional cases they can be made according to individual measurements to order. On both sides of the sink, there should be at least 50 cm of free space for dishes and cooking. It is desirable that one empty countertop occupies an area of ​​​​at least a meter, this is enough for a cutting board, plates, cutlery, and products.

    Where to place the refrigerator

    Ideally, the refrigerator should not go beyond the working triangle, the area of ​​highest activity. In practice, it is not always possible to observe this rule, but it is worth striving for. The most inconvenient layouts: the refrigerator between the stove and sink, too far from the table, or right behind it.

    If the kitchen is small and there are few options, it is better to put the refrigerator closer to the sink, and not to the stove. When this is not possible, it is imperative to ensure a distance between the refrigerator and the stove of at least 15 cm.

    From the point of view of saving space, the refrigerator is best placed in the corner or on the side of the entrance to the kitchen. The latter option is also convenient because food packages can be unloaded immediately upon entering the premises.

    If the refrigerator is part of the headset and is in line with it, it is important that its depth matches the parameters of the countertops. You can consider options with built-in appliances. Closed by cabinet doors, it does not stand out from the style of the interior, and it will be easier for residents to maintain order. For a small kitchen, it makes sense to choose compact appliances.

    Expert comment

    Irina Sobylenskaya, interior designer:

    – Modern trends are often directly opposite: some customers dream of a full-fledged roomy kitchen set with all kinds of appliances to cook for family and friends according to recipes from Instagram and YouTube; others – mainly order food with delivery and are ready to do with a minimum of furniture and equipment. But the basic set is about the same for everyone: a cabinet with a sink and water filters, a dishwasher, a cabinet with drawers for cutlery and utensils, a refrigerator, and a hob. The oven is increasingly being replaced with a microwave, slow cooker, and steamer, depending on the diet that family members adhere to. Upper cabinets are rarely abandoned; this is mainly done by young people who cook little and do not buy food in reserve. Most customers still prefer to have a lot of storage systems.

    The most problematic parts in a corner kitchen are the cabinets in the corner. Due to the displaced door, access to their contents is complicated and often this is where the mess reigns. The problem is solved by installing special sliding and rotating shelves, additional stands, and hooks, now almost all headset manufacturers have them.

    I would not recommend moving the functional areas to different corners of the kitchen: for example, on one side there is a refrigerator, next to it is a stove, on the other side there is a sink and an oven. It may seem that this is a suitable option, because there is enough free space between these zones. But analyze your movements when cooking: most likely, it is more convenient for you to stir the stew in the pan with one hand, rinse the knife with the other, immediately turn to the cutting board to cut vegetables, and then look in the refrigerator for sauce. And at the same time, do not run from one end of the kitchen to the other.

    As for the kitchen island, a lot depends on its functionality. If this is just an additional countertop – a bar counter, there are no special nuances. The main thing is that there is enough space to approach her. If an oven or wine cabinet is built in, you will need a distance of at least 100-120 cm between the island and the main part of the kitchen in order to freely open the door and take out the contents.

    When designing a kitchen, it is important to take into account the health characteristics of those who use it most often. It may seem silly, but constantly leaning over the oven with a sore lower back is not a good idea. It is better to install appliances at waist level in a separate column cabinet. Or, for example, it’s more convenient to get a coffee cup from an open shelf at arm’s length, and not reach for it on tiptoe to the top shelf of the dryer, wondering if it will pinch a nerve in your shoulder or not. Also, when designing a kitchen, it is important to think about the safety of children and animals so that some items are out of their reach. For example, place a tray with knives on the top shelf, raise the oven higher, provide a niche for the mixer and blender in a closed cabinet, and not on the countertop.

    Partitions in the kitchen make sense if it is a kitchen-living room and you want to zone the space. In other cases, these are additional obstacles. A niche and a partition for a refrigerator are justified when the equipment is on the edge – the side partition gives the headset a finished look and prevents dust from entering the back wall of the refrigerator. This does not affect functionality in any way .

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