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People gather, prepare food, serve meals, socialize, and celebrate the earth’s bounties that support their lives. What does your family do in the kitchen? You would probably be surprised and how many things happen in a kitchen. Think of how many times you are in your kitchen. You will find that it could be the busiest room in your house! Once you realize everything that goes on in the room that stores, prepares, and serves food, you might be surprised that kitchens throughout the centuries changed as new technologies provided access to running water, heat, storage areas, preparation areas inside. With the advent of electricity, the development of appliances- stoves, ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers became everyday conveniences.Today, kitchens come in various configurations, outside in some cultures and inside in others, fitting into existing and new dwelling constructions.

Activity 1 – One Wall Kitchens

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The one-wall kitchen is the most compact of all kitchens. It organizes a small refrigerator, a sink, a cooking surface, and sometimes a microwave and oven in a single plane. Compact kitchens are tightly organized in Tiny Homes and are sufficient to serve one or two people. One-wall kitchens efficiently have a small vertical refrigerator, a single or double sink, an oven and possibly a microwave, and sometimes even a dishwasher in one-bedroom apartments. Think cold, hot, and clean to organize your kitchen.
Draw a kitchen on one wall and label all of its key parts.

Activity 2 – Galley Kitchens

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Kitchens with two parallel linear groupings of cabinets and appliances are considered galley kitchens. Galley kitchens set up the three most used areas within a ‘kitchen work triangle .’ The kitchen work triangle is a design concept determining the efficiency of a kitchen based on three critical points of use. Can you guess the three points of the triangle? One is a sink, the second is the refrigerator, and the third is the stove! The distance of these three points added together should be no less than 13 feet, but also no more than 26 feet. This work triangle sets the workflow space within kitchens determining appliance locations. You can calculate the kitchen triangle by standing at your sink and measuring the distances to the stove, the refrigerator, and then back to the sink. The sum of these distances sets the total of the kitchen’s efficiency work triangle.

Think of running water for washing hands, foods, dishes, silverware, glasses, pots, and pans. Think of preparation surfaces for chopping, mixing, blending, cooling. Stovetops serve to warm, fry, sauté, sear, boil, stew, and cool food! People bake, broil, roast in ovens. So much happens in a kitchen along one linear wall. Draw a Galley Kitchen and chart its work triangle.

If kitchens and everything that happens within them is interesting to you, consider becoming a Kitchen Designer!

Activity 3 – L-shaped Kitchens

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The “L” shaped kitchen has counters along one wall and then one turning at a 90-degree angle. The floor plan looks like an “L” from above. The L-shaped kitchen is efficient because it opens to other living spaces in the house. This design is great where space is limited as it is compact and maintains an efficient work triangle. A downfall to this kitchen type can be the lack of workable countertop space and limited placement of the appliances- the sink, the stove, the refrigerator, and perhaps even a dishwasher. Placing the refrigerator on the back wall helps prevent it from blocking the view into the kitchen. The dishwasher and the sink are usually adjacent as plumbing in the wall, and the floor delivers running water and drainage. Be sure to add at least one window, too!

Draw an L-shaped kitchen and label all appliances.

Activity 4 – U- shaped Kitchens

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“U” shaped kitchens have appliances along three different walls connected by workable countertop space. This kitchen design is often considered the most functional. It ties the 3 points of the work triangle to separate walls, allowing for maximum customizability of appliance location and utilization of workable counter space dedicated to each essential workstation in the kitchen. This extra space also allows for additional storage space above and below the work surface. This storage store everything from pots and pans, linens, dishes, cookware, supplies, utensils, cups, and glasses. It also can include a pantry with boxed and canned supplies, spices, candles, as well as extra appliances such as tea kettles, tea pots, waffle irons, panini grills, etc. In addition, windows are often placed above the sink allowing natural light to enter, extending views out into nature.

Draw a U-shaped kitchen with at least one window for natural light!

Activity 5 – Island Kitchens

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A kitchen is considered an island kitchen when a separate workspace with a countertop stands apart from the main walls. This separated workspace can have undercabinet storage, a sink attached, or it can just be a countertop. This space is great for seating, dining, and entertaining people together in the kitchen. It can be placed on wheels and moved to allow more space in the kitchen or additional workspace and storage. Island kitchen designs are great for maximizing the use and potential of a kitchen. Draw a kitchen with an island and label its key parts. Upload it to the gallery.

Activity 6 – Eat IN Kitchens

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In the past, kitchens for food preparation were separate from dining rooms. Today’s casual and convenient lifestyles appreciate places to serve and enjoy food immediately in the kitchens saving space and creating a social environment. Typical areas may include breakfast nooks, built-in peninsulas, islands, or enough dining table space. Eat-in kitchens save money and space and create a more functional floor plan with careful planning. Design and eat -n kitchen and post it to the gallery.

Activity 7 – Cabinets, Countertops, + Pulls

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Appliances usually come with storage and display cabinets, countertops used for workable space, and pulls to open drawers and doors. Cabinets are solid wood, metal, or wooden material painted or stained to color preference. Countertops are horizontal slabs constructed from wooden butcher boards, quartz or granite slabs, or plastic laminate materials imitating a material or color. Countertops are typically chosen based on aesthetics, functionality, durability, and affordability. Finally, bars, knobs, and pulls are all handles used to open cabinetry and drawers, typically wooden or metal, and come in many shapes and sizes. If one wants a more minimalist look, they can even remove all pulls and install push or pull to open drawers and doors. Make a material chart showing three different counter materials, three different cabinet colors, and three different types of pulls; upload your choices to the gallery.

Activity 8 – Appliances + Lighting

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Lighting in a kitchen is crucial, as it is necessary for preparation, cooking, and cleaning up. Kitchens require ambient and task lighting for the modern-day kitchen’s many missions. Lighting comes first from sunlit kitchen windows during sunshine hours. Lighting designers recommend that kitchens have 300 lumens per square meter for essential lighting and 500 lumens per square meter for task lighting situations above the sink, stove, and work surface. Adequate lighting from artificial sources such as light bulbs, light strips, and light fixtures provides ambient and direct task lighting. Recessed and hanging fixtures illuminate islands, peninsulas, or dining areas. Above and below counter lights offer beautiful ambient lighting as well. Take a picture of a well-lit kitchen and label the location and type of all light fixtures.

Activity 9 – Great Room Kitchens

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Great Rooms are spaces where entertainment, dining, and cooking take place. Often called the heart of the home, the combination of activities collects the most social interaction. In addition, many great rooms have higher ceilings than the rest of the house to allow for larger gatherings of people. Finally, many great rooms open onto decks or patios into the back yard or an apartment terrace. Great rooms are a relatively new addition to the typical home plan, becoming commonplace since the 1990s. Design a Great Room Kitchen in plan and section and label the three parts. Upload it to the gallery!


  • What do the 3 points of the Kitchen work triangle represent?
  • How many lumens Per Square meter is typically recommended for task lighting in a kitchen?
  • Modern Kitchens tend to separate the kitchen in its own defined room, separate from the living/entertaining space
  • What are the 3 different spaces that a great room connects into one space?
  • What kitchen type is considered the most functional and customizable?
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