Skip to main content

Experts explain how to make your kitchen more efficient

Have you ever wondered why meals you cook from a recipe sometimes take 20 to 30 minutes longer than the stated time? Perhaps it’s not your cooking skills at fault, but rather that your kitchen just isn’t as efficient as it could be. Working in an inefficient kitchen is a hassle, and though remodeling can be a bit daunting, why not consider investing in your time and strive for a more effective kitchen design? Consider making the most of your space and creating your very own efficiency kitchen.

Having an efficient kitchen to prep, cook, and clean is incredibly important if you’re trying to maximize your time and energy. Your kitchen space shouldn’t work against you; it should work for you. It should be beautiful and functional, but striking that balance is hard. However, there are some core design concepts that will make remodeling easier.

Modern kitchen with handleless cabinets
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The triangle of an efficient kitchen

There are three core elements to any kitchen: the refrigerator, the sink, and the prep space. The efficiency of your kitchen is directly tied to the fine balance of how these three spaces intermingle, and small details such as the distance from one station to the next can make all the difference when planning an efficient kitchen. Kitchens by Good Guys lead kitchen designer Amber Carfield suggests:

“The simplest way to define an efficient kitchen is a kitchen that has all workstations in proximity. You want your refrigerator, sink, and prep area to work in unison and prevent the cook from having to walk ten feet from each core workstation.”

The “Work Triangle,” as she calls it, is the cornerstone of any solid kitchen. The fridge, sink, and work surfaces should be in line with one another so that you can float seamlessly between them without too much or too little distance between them.

“The space between each station should be no closer than four feet and no farther than nine feet,” Carfield said. “Creating a workstation that allows you to easily prep, cook, and clean is the first and most important step to creating an efficient kitchen.”

The triangle design is a core concept to any kitchen remodeling job, as it makes it easy and efficient to move about your space freely. But this design can only be maximized if you remember that your kitchen needs to be well lit to facilitate such movement.

lighting kitchen sink

Kitchen efficiency and lighting

Proper lighting is vital to creating the most efficient kitchens. While this seems almost too obvious with the amount of chopping, cooking, and moving that occurs in a kitchen, Carfield warned, “Lighting is the most forgotten element when it comes to designing an efficient kitchen. Good lighting in a kitchen is incredibly important and creates more than an aesthetic improvement.”

When remodeling, remember to take into account the most frequented spaces of your kitchen and make sure that those areas get their own work lights so that they are always well lit when you need them to be. Some examples include the counter space where you do most of your prep work to mitigate chopping accidents, and above the sink so you can clearly see and clean dirty dishes. Accent lighting and general lighting are also key to making sure that your kitchen not only is easily traversable but also feels cozy and warm when you walk in.

If your design permits, consider also incorporating natural lighting, as it adds to the natural ambiance of the space without being energy hungry. A bit of sun while you prep your coffee in your beautiful, efficient kitchen will be a boon on those sleepy mornings.

Carfield said, “The aesthetics of a kitchen mean nothing if the kitchen is not easy to use. Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that you will design a kitchen that is beautiful and efficient.”

You should enjoy spending time in the spaces you occupy, and if you find that you’re not enjoying how you’re spending your kitchen time, it might be a good idea to consider some of Carfield’s tips to make the most of it.

If you’re looking to do some remodeling to your kitchen in 2022, focusing on creating an efficient kitchen is a good idea. As Carfield explained, picturing your refrigerator, sink, and workspace as a triangle of efficiency is key. Paying special attention to being able to move with ease between each station is nonnegotiable, along with assuring that your kitchen has the best lighting, both from natural and artificial sources.

Editors' Recommendations

Caroline Cote-Bergevin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
7 striking yellow kitchens on Instagram that prove this hue is design gold
Yellow is an ideal color for the kitchen. Here are a few ideas to help you style this bright tone
yellow kitchen cabients

If you're in the mood for a kitchen redesign or remodel, you may be considering introducing a new color into the mix. While we love a crisp, white kitchen, yellow (in all of its lovely shades) is making itself known to designers and homeowners alike. A yellow kitchen is bright, sunny, and cheerful, the perfect combination for a room where everyone gathers to play, eat, and work. If you're in love with the hue but wondering what you do with a yellow kitchen, we've got some ideas. If you need some inspiration, look no further than these Instagram designs to get you in the mood to transform your kitchen space.

Is yellow good for a kitchen?
We adore the color yellow for kitchens. There are so many shades to suit your personal taste, and the hue can completely transform the look of the space. There are so many ways to incorporate yellow — from wall color to cabinets to wallpaper and everything in between. Here are a few of our favorites.
Mustard yellow cabinets
The before-and-after pictures tell it all in this kitchen remodel. The yellow color opens up the space to give it a warm, welcoming feel. The simple decor, white walls, and understated backsplash allow the color to shine on its own.

Read more
How to keep oak kitchen cabinets from looking out of place in a modern kitchen
Transform your outdated oak kitchen cabinets for a luxe, modern design
Modern kitchen with red oak cabinets and white countertops

Oak kitchen cabinets are a staple in many traditional homes. Their earthy tones and elegant appearance have placed them at the top of the ladder, making them one of the most beloved cabinet materials in recent decades. While this wood has stood the test of time in interior design, keeping an oak-heavy kitchen from looking out of place in a redesigned home can be challenging. Oak cabinetry often caters to traditional decor, making it hard to implement these gorgeous tones and textures into a more modern or contemporary space.

If you’re a modern enthusiast who wants to maintain the traditional oak cabinet look without creating a tacky design, then we have the tips for you. Here’s how to dress up your kitchen to balance modernity with traditional oak cabinets.

Read more
This simple change will make your bathroom feel ultra luxurious
Here are some creative ways to hang your bathroom towels to enhance your space
Rolled towels and plant in bathroom

Whether you’ve recently updated your bathroom or you’re looking for a few quick and easy ways to give it a refresh, there’s one little change you can make that could have a big impact on the look and feel of your bathroom—your towels. Changing colors, replacing worn or threadbare towels with new and plush ones, and even changing the way you fold and display your towels all have an impact on how your bathroom looks and how it makes you feel.  

Gather those scrawny hand towels and remove the damp towels your kids have strewn across the floor. This is how to hang towels in a bathroom to elevate the aesthetic of the space.

Read more