The 3 Zones of a Kitchen

We’ve all heard of the working triangle in the kitchen (whereby you’ll find it easier to cook efficiently if your sink, preparation area and cooker/hob are all located to form a triangle) but have you heard about the three zones of modern kitchens? If you’re planning a new build, a renovation or a new kitchen, this could be very useful advice indeed. This has come about because people aren’t just using kitchens for cooking. It’s very true that this isn’t a modern movement. Indeed, in the 1970s, those building new homes with living rooms were considered to be somewhat strange to want to sit and relax in a room away from the kitchen. People have cooked, ate, entertained and indeed, used their kitchen as their main living area for decades.

The Burnaby

There’s a move back to it though with a kitchen functioning as the “hub of the house” as being very desirable. A space for family to congregate when eating; for children to do their homework while a parent is cooking; for friends to pop in and relax with a cuppa over a chat. This is being reflected in the design of modern kitchens so the three zones are:

The Working Kitchen with Snack Area

As you might expect, the working area of the kitchen will have kitchen cupboards, worktops, oven, fridge, hob, everything you’d need to prepare and cook food. Many kitchens also incorporate a kitchen island into the design now too. It incorporates a food preparation area, sometimes a sink or cooker, and has significant storage and display area underneath. It also functions as a seating area for two or three people to sit comfortably and enjoy a cup of tea or a quick meal together.


This farmhouse kitchen island has lots of space for preparing food, providing a large working space and yet has enough space for four people to sit comfortably for a snack or quick meal.

Eating Area

This is, of course, the kitchen table and chairs. As many homeowners now opt to forgo a formal dining room, the kitchen table and chairs tend to be situated a little distance away from the working area of the kitchen. Not too far to make it feel like a long walk but near enough to be convenient and be part of the overall kitchen.



Relaxing or Entertaining Area

Yes, that’s right, there’s something nice about sitting down in a comfy armchair to relax with a cup of tea after a meal and having a chat with family or friends. It’s also the perfect spot to serve a coffee and cake if friends call in for a chat. Fancy relaxing with a book for twenty minutes while the dinner is cooking – yes, it’s ideal for that too. And if the children or teenagers are relaxing there while you’re cooking, it means you can all still have a conversation.


The seating area doesn’t have to be a long way from the working area. This galley kitchen has a cosy seating area at the end of the kitchen units.


This kitchen has two armchairs to the side, they get good natural lighting and are the perfect place to relax after dinner or even while dinner is cooking if there’s a novel that just refuses to escape your attention.


Some homeowners create open plan spaces within their homes so the living area is larger than it might be in a kitchen. The disadvantage of this can be that cooking smells and noises can permeate. It can be nice to relax in a room that’s separate from the kitchen, particularly in the evenings. If open plan living is your dream, the trick is to create different room spaces or zones within the space and this can be achieved by different floor surfaces, different wall treatments such as a different paint colour or wallpaper in one area; different lighting styles and varying ceiling heights. If your kitchen is of a large size, applying some of these techniques will work well to differentiate the relaxing area from the rest of the room.


And of course, if you need someone to help you bring your ideas to fruition, we can supply you with up to four quotes from interior designers, kitchen designers, kitchen manufacturers, builders and decorators on the Tradesmen website.

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  • Rory Bird

    Great article, well done Lorna!