In the USA, a modern residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator and kitchen cabinets arranged according to a modular design. Many households have a microwave oven, a dishwasher and other electric appliances. The main function of a kitchen is cooking or preparing food but it may also be used for dining and entertaining.
A few common kitchen forms, commonly characterized by the arrangement of the kitchen cabinets and sink, stove, and refrigerator:
- A single-file kitchen (or one-way galley) has all of these along one wall; the work triangle degenerates to a line. This is not optimal, but often the only solution if space is restricted. This may be common in an attic space that is being converted into a living space, or a studio apartment.
- The double-file kitchen (or two-way galley) has two rows of cabinets at opposite walls, one containing the stove and the sink, the other the refrigerator. This is the classical work kitchen.
- In the L-kitchen, the cabinets occupy two adjacent walls. Again, the work triangle is preserved, and there may even be space for an additional table at a third wall, provided it does not intersect the triangle.
- A U-kitchen has cabinets along three walls, typically with the sink at the base of the “U”. This is a typical work kitchen, too, unless the two other cabinet rows are short enough to place a table at the fourth wall.
- The block kitchen (or island) is a more recent development, typically found in open kitchens. Here, the stove or both the stove and the sink are placed where an L or U kitchen would have a table, in a freestanding “island”, separated from the other cabinets. In a closed room, this does not make much sense, but in an open kitchen, it makes the stove accessible from all sides such that two persons can cook together, and allows for contact with guests or the rest of the family, since the cook does not face the wall anymore. Additionally, the kitchen island’s countertop can function as an overflow-surface for serving buffet style meals or sitting down to eat breakfast and snacks.