The most popular design in kitchens today is the open kitchen concept. Due to the lack of walls in the open kitchen you need to design them in a way that creates efficiency. In yesteryear, you had four walls and on the walls were wall cabinets and we worked within the kitchen triangle. Kitchens have become bigger and in many families there are multiple cooks. The kitchen is the central control center to the family, where many activities happen.

A new term has been created for the open kitchen concept called the zones. In each zone, an activity takes place such as the clean up zone, prep zone, and the cooking zone. In this post, we are going to talk about ways to design the cooking zone.

Assessing  What Goes Into The Cooking Zone

There are six essential ingredients necessary to create an efficient cooking zone:


The cooktop is the intricate part of the cooking zone and everything else revolves around it. There are three different cooking technologies to consider, electric, gas and induction. It is important to determine which technology you are most comfortable cooking with. I would recommend visiting an interactive showroom to try each. If you grew up with electric and have never cooked on the other two technologies, you would want to do your research to make the best decision for your new kitchen. I personally have gas as my main source, but I designed a two-burner induction cooktop near my chef sink that would allow me to be able to boil a big pasta pot of water quickly and conveniently drain the water at my sink. The choices in technologies really allow you to customize your work zones perfectly!
Kallista chef sink with accessories in a modern coastal kitchen with large window viewDesign by Patricia Davis Brown Designs, LLC.

You can have a separate cooktop with the ovens strategically placed elsewhere in the kitchen or choose to go with a range. The range combines the cooktop and oven together and depending on the layout of your kitchen might be necessary.

old world traditional kitchen interior design with wood cabinets island and exposed rafters

Design by Patricia Davis Brown Designs

What is nice about the separate cooktop is you can design your pots and pan storage directly below the cooktop, putting everything at your fingertips.

traditional white cabinet interior design, range and hood design

Design by Patricia Davis Brown Designs


Ovens today have really evolved offering new technologies from convection, infra-wave, microwave and steam to name the most popular. Some even come with multi-functional technologies all in one. To get into all of the technologies that are offered and how they work would take writing another post just on cooking technologies, but let’s focus on how to design ovens into the cooking zone. Back in the 80’s when I started in the kitchen and bath design business, the most popular oven was the double combo design. I never liked the double oven design because each oven was either too high are too low for the comfort of the user. The single oven design allows you to design your ovens at the perfect height and let’s look at some of the options available:

Single ovens side by side offer the perfect placement, at countertop height, to access both ovens equally. The design below also shows a warming drawer and a steam/convection oven, both located directly under the main ovens. The wall of ovens offers multi-functional technologies, from doing a roast, using the evening distribution of heat through convection, to steaming vegetables and maintaining all their nutrients through the technology of steam.

double ovens in tall cabinet, double ovens, warming drawer and convection oven in contemporary kitchen design

Design by Patricia Davis Brown Designs

If you have a long enough wall to accommodate two single ovens split and designed into towers with the cooktop in the middle, it creates the perfect cooking zone.

kitchen cooking zone design with hood and range in traditional old world style

Design by Patricia Davis Brown Designs

If you lack counter space for prep, you might want to consider putting the ovens below the counter. This particular illustration shows a 48-inch range with spice pullouts on either side, four drawer base units to organize utensils and ovens framing the elevation. You will need a long wall to create this design.

Kitchen interior design ideas for designing a cooking zone plan


Ventilation is extremely important over the cooktop. Depending on the location and the type of cooking you are doing will determine the amount of CFM’s you will need in order for the vent to exhaust efficiently. Here are some quick rules of thumb; if your cooktop is located on the island, you will need at least 1050 CFM’s with a remote dual blowing system. If your cooktop is located at a wall, the wall will help to contain the contaminants you are trying to exhaust and doesn’t need as many CFM’s. If you are using a gas cooktop at the wall, you will need 650 CFM blower and if it is electric you might be able to get away with 350 CFM blower. I highly recommend working with a professional to determine the size of  blower you will need over your cooktop.

Prep Area

You want ample prep space at your cook zone. This is where you will be preparing your food to cook and you will need at least 36-inches of uninterrupted counter top to work at. If you are working on an island, it could be at the end of the island or if working at a galley kitchen, the 36″ of counter space could be directly behind you.

Water Source

A water source is necessary so you are not carrying big pots of water too far away from the cooktop. This can be done by designing a prep sink near your cooking zone or if your main sink is within a couple of steps to your cooktop that would work as well. You want to make sure your cooking zone has everything it needs to allow you to safely prepare your meals.


There are many items you need at your cooking center from, pots and pans to utensils, and it is best to design a spot for everything you will need in order to be the most efficient. There are drawer inserts available that can help organize knives, spices, pan lids and utensils, to put everything you will need right at your fingertips.

kitchen island drawer storage in a soft contemporary kitchen interior design

Design by Patricia Davis Brown Designs

This post is meant to be a tool to help you create the most efficient cooking zone in your new kitchen. It is my goal to help you in the planning stages so you can design for your lifestyle and budget. That is why I am continuing to grow my interior design guides and tips to aid you in planning the perfect kitchen design. Remember it only takes a well thought out design plan to get it right!
I understand how stressful the many decisions involved in an interior design project can be. Kitchens are VERY involved rooms to design because there are many pieces to this puzzle. You may need someone to guide you, help to explain all those choices, and point you in the right direction. I’m available for consultation via Skype for your interior design project, no matter the size. Our virtual session will include a document detailing everything discussed. Feel free to contact me prior to setting up a consultation.

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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design. Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and talent offering design tips.