Kitchen Ergonomics 101: Layout, Efficiency and Sweet Home Cooking

From on December 29, 2009 in Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen ergonomics is the science of fitting the cooking space to the cook. In an efficient kitchen, tasks and products are made to be comfortable and proficient for the user. For the best in kitchen ergonomics, follow this one simple rule: If it frustrates you, upgrade it.

Efficiency Begins with Shopping

Wide isles, common sense layout, fresh produce, fast checkouts and calming music makes for an ergonomic grocery that knows the shopping experience matters. Organize your own kitchen and refrigerator shelves in a similarly logical manner.

Ergonomic Food

Take the edge off cooking. If you hate mixing pancakes from scratch, buy batter that sprays from a can. And when shredding cheese means scraped fingers, stock up on bags of shredded cheddar.

Work Space

Decide on the basic kitchen shapes: L shape, Island, U shape or Galley.

And within the workspace is the work triangle, the king of kitchen ergonomic principles. The triangle is the placement of the most often-used areas: refrigerator, sink and stove.

Counter top height for optimal use is three feet tall, unless the cook is especially tall, short or has special needs. Add under the counter lighting, a ceiling fan with light, and other conveniences that may benefit you and the space.


There’s no way to list all the gizmos and gadgets for the workspace, but when you need them, they matter. Access your cooking needs and find a way to accessorize your kitchen.

Frustrating kitchen scenarios happen all the time, like when you’re pulling the food processor out of the cabinet and the cord tangles with the juicer’s plug. The KitchenAid Stand Mixer is a staple that subs for both these appliances, with attachments for slicing, shredding and juicing, along with eight other add-ons. Just one example of simplifying and saving space.

Another cooking-scenario-gone-bad includes the soft boiled egg that’s rubbery from all the time spent on the burner. Eggcurate Kitchen Scale weighs in the egg for its perfect boil time and sounds an alarm when it is ready. Every kitchen problem has a solution.

Cabinets and Countertops

Clean them out and clean them off. Cabinets with built-in pot drawers, vertical cookie sheet and pan dividers, and adjustable shelves for tall items like cereal boxes make storage easy. Counters help with organization if there is space for the most-used small appliances.

Eating Spot

A nook, counter with bar stools or small kitchen table – anyplace to gather for a quick bite to eat is convenient, even if the home has a formal dining area.

Health and Safety

Check out the Gel-Pro Kitchen Anti-Fatigue Mat made from anti-slip material. It stays in place while you benefit from the cushion underfoot. Duncan’s Kitchen Grips Lid Grips are insulated with a rubbery grip. Leave them on your pots and lift the lid as often as you like, no oven mitt necessary.

Childproof and Aging-in-Place Checklists

Most of these adjustments for the young, elderly and people with special needs can be implemented easily without sacrificing the style of the family’s most popular gathering spot.


  • Unplug appliances in their reach
  • Keep cords away from children
  • Use back burners whenever possible
  • Install child-safety latches on low cabinets
  • Watch out for pot handles and tablecloths that children can pull
  • Store sharp utensils, household cleaners, matches and lighters out of reach


  • Plan for adjustable counter heights or multilevel work areas
  • Choose easy-to-grip cabinetry pulls
  • Add pull-down shelving
  • Consider glass front cabinets and/or open shelves for easy access
  • Consider safest burners for stove (i.e. electric with light to indicate hot surface)
  • Purchase appliances with easy-to-read controls
  • Purchase countertop microwave and side-by-side refrigerator

Resources: Kitchen Ergonomics & About Ergonomics

Photo Credits: Daily Green, About, & KC Handyman