The kitchen work triangle. There’s been debate in recent years that it might be a thing of the past. That with such huge kitchens and massive islands, the math pounded into kitchen designers years ago is no longer the same. With multiple sinks in different areas, with faucets at the ready at the stove backsplash, with refrigerator drawers that can go basically anywhere; it does seem that work “zones” have replaced the holy trinity of design. Fridge, sink, stove.
Today, I will point to the one thing that is the key to a kitchen that runs smoothly: A glass serving bar.
Hear me out. The biggest obstacle in the kitchen is not the distance from the stove to the fridge. The biggest obstacles are,…well, obstacles. Any well-designed kitchen keeps the traffic flowing smoothly. If it’s a multi-cook kitchen, design for multiple cooks. If it’s a busy family with lots of kids, give the kids a place to do their own cooking or homework. If you like to entertain, give people a place to gather and mingle,….but keep them out of the cooks way.
In my family’s kitchen growing up, there was one corner that was safe to hang out and talk to mom while she was preparing. She was one of those cooks that didn’t like people in her kitchen. If too many of us found our way in there while dinner was coming together, she would “shoo” her hands, stomp her feet in tiny stomps, and loudly proclaim in her Southern drawl, “GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN!” I learned that if I sat on the counter near the toaster I could continue to hang out in her kitchen. It was where an ill-designed appliance cubby and the battery and hammer drawer was. It was where we kept an insane amount of rubberbands, and Thanksgiving serving platters; none of which were vital during a normal dinnertime. Thus, allowing me to stay in the kitchen, bend my mother’s ear, and watch her work.
The glass serving bar serves the same purpose, albeit in a more refined, sensible way. It keeps guests at arms length, out of the main traffic flow so you can be a more hospitable host. It gives a place for teens to do their homework during dinnertime while being in close proximity for help – just in case they don’t actually know everything. It keeps my young daughter happily “cooking” in her bowl of flour, without a worry of a difficult cleanup later or dangerously underfoot in our tiny kitchen. But most importantly, it keeps the cook a part of the action and engaged in the lives of others.
Some of the best conversations happen when someone is stirring a pot.
Kitchen serving bars can be as short as 4ft, or as long as your kitchen. They can be elevated, equal height, or lower than the countertop. They can be color glass, etched glass, or clear glass. I’m sure they can even be made out of things other than glass (eghads!); but by all means, make them. They could single-handedly save your family.
So design your cooking triangles, your work zones, your culinary rhomboids. Just be sure that a sensible serving bar is a part of that design somewhere. Your family will thank you for it.
Mandy Marxen is the VP of Marketing at Gardner Glass Products, Inc. – the creator of the Dreamwalls family of products. She has a degree in journalism, has extensively studied art direction and graphic design, and has designed everything from kitchens to hockey jerseys. She is the youngest of too-many children, and credits her creative cooking ability – for better or for worse – to her mother.