How much does kitchen design layout affect your daily life? More than you may realize. A lot of study has gone into finding more efficient ways to set up appliances, more ergonomic layouts, and creative ways to maximize the space you have to work with.
Having a kitchen that you enjoy working in is essential for many individuals, and families. An efficient kitchen design will allow you to more easily prepare healthy and nutritious meals, and a kitchen renovation that allows for extra space can turn it into more of a social gathering place.
A large portion of anyone’s daily chore list revolves around the kitchen. Seeing as how we all spend so much time there – whether we are eating, cooking, cleaning, socializing, taking phone messages, or completing homework – it is in your best interest to make sure that you are making the most of this essential room in your home.
Let’s take a look at different layouts, and the advantages they offer.
A galley kitchen is sometimes also referred to as a walk-through kitchen. Picture an exceptionally wide hallway with kitchen cabinets and appliances on either side. Some galley kitchens have two solid floor to ceiling walls, while others have one solid wall, and one half wall, allowing for counter space on both sides of the kitchen.
There is a reason that galley kitchens are the preferred layout of restaurants. This floor plan most easily allows for the “work triangle” – that being the triangle of space created between the sink, the refrigerator, and the oven.
This layout gets its name from the galley of a ship. There isn’t a lot of extra elbow room on a ship, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of mouths to feed. This is a kitchen that has to maximize efficiency and output, while working with minimal space.
A galley kitchen makes excellent use of a narrow space. Older homes with irregular shaped rooms may find that while other kitchen layouts would be difficult to shoehorn in, a galley kitchen can usually be installed or renovated with very little fuss.
If you think you will have more than one cook working in this kitchen, you may end up tripping over one another more frequently in a galley kitchen. By necessity, the space through which you pass is narrow, so picture two adults trying to hurry past each other while carrying wide cookie sheets. It can get a little interesting.
For those who enjoy the layout of an eat in kitchen, the galley won’t work. There are some exceptions, of course. For instance, if you only need to set up a small bistro style table with two chairs, you could probably fit this in a galley kitchen. Otherwise, you will need to have a separate room or nook set aside for dining.
One Wall Kitchen
A one wall kitchen is most often seen in studio apartments, or homes with small spaces. In this layout, all cabinets, and all appliances are lined up along a single wall. Typically, the sink will be placed between the refrigerator, and the oven – therefore sidestepping the inherent problem of not having the “work triangle” that other layouts afford.
This is the ultimate space saver kitchen. Conceivably, you could put this style of kitchen anywhere in your home, so long as there is a wall on which to build. For people looking to completely change the location of the kitchen in their home, a one wall layout allows the most flexibility by far.
The entire kitchen could be hidden by a room divider. This is especially helpful for those who feel like they are constantly battling clutter in their kitchen, or those who are looking to create more separate spaces in a studio or loft style home.
These kitchens are also popular in larger homes that want to enjoy an open floor plan. By keeping all cabinets and appliances to a single wall, it leaves homeowners more free to find the perfect placement for their dining table, and allows a more open and airy feeling throughout the entire home.
If there is anything a one wall kitchen is notoriously short on, it is counter space. If you intend to do any type of cooking that requires plenty of room to spread out, you may run into some issues. Of course, a rolling island can help alleviate the counter space woes.
Some people prefer a clear delineation between the kitchen, and the rest of the house, and you just won’t get that with a one wall kitchen. The biggest drawback may be that sound carries out of the kitchen and into the rest of the house more easily.
This kitchen usually consists of three walls, hence the term “U-shape.” Typically, the sink will be located on the back wall, with the oven on one of the side walls, and the refrigerator on the opposing side wall. The dining area is usually in a separate room or space just outside the kitchen.
While this is often listed as a solution for smaller kitchens, many medium and large kitchens choose to take on this layout as well. The larger the area, the more counter space and storage you get to enjoy.
The U-shaped kitchen is wider than a galley kitchen, but still offers a similarly efficient layout. The extra space allows for more custom kitchen cabinet design.
If you are the kind of cook who likes to get down to business, and don’t necessarily need an audience while you are working, the U-shaped layout tends to keep onlookers (mostly) out of your way.
This layout can make the most of a small space. The fourth wall remaining “open” prevents this compact layout from looking too cramped.
Adding an island to a U-shaped kitchen can instantly increase counter space and storage. Many homeowners choose to install custom islands to help add functionality to their kitchen without having to undertake more aggressive renovations.
This is another layout which does not lend itself well to an eat-in kitchen design. You will need to make sure you have adequate space for a dining area elsewhere.
Some of the more compact U-shaped kitchens struggle with where to fit the dishwasher. The 90° corners in the room sometimes mean that cabinets are blocked off while the dishwasher is open.
This is a clever approach to remodeling a small kitchen. Homes that have U-shaped kitchens, but that want to add a little extra work space, can sometimes benefit from adding a partial fourth wall, making the “U” into more of a “G”.
Works great as a layout for any size kitchen.
This is a very clever solution for kitchens that have neither the room to expand, nor the clearance to fit an island. By adding on a “peninsula,” which is like an island that is attached to a wall on one side, you add counter space and storage without closing off a walkway.
Because the peninsula does not extend all the way to the ceiling, but rather stops at counter height, you do not run the risk of making your kitchen feel too closed off, or dark.
The peninsula that you add can also double as a breakfast bar.
This layout offers even more privacy than the U-shaped layout.
If you are not careful, you can create a bit of a bottleneck at the entryway to your kitchen. You want to make sure that you have at least 4 feet of space between the edge of the peninsula, and the opposite wall of your kitchen.
While this does add additional cabinets and work space, if your kitchen is small, it will still only accommodate one cook.
If your kitchen does tend to become a gathering spot, there is no through-way with a G-shaped layout, meaning the people in there with the cook can quickly get in the way.
An L-shaped layout makes good use of a corner kitchen set up. Two perpendicular walls house all of the appliances and cabinets, and then meet at the corner. The L-shaped kitchen is popular in some newer homes, especially those looking to maintain an open floor plan.
Many eat in kitchens are designed in an L shape. Depending on the size of your kitchen, many L-shaped layouts can even accommodate large dining tables. Moving prepared food from the counters to the table is very easy, as is removing plates and taking them to the sink.
This layout works very well with small and medium-sized kitchens.
If you are frustrated by continual traffic in your kitchen, the L-shaped layout virtually eliminates it. Because people are not as enclosed by the room, the kitchen is more of a thoroughfare than a stopping point.
If you are looking to add an island, or additional work space, this is the easiest layout in which to do that. If you are looking to upgrade your L-shaped space from a one cook kitchen to a to cook kitchen, you will have a much smoother transition with this layout than some others.
The longer you stretch this kitchen out, the less efficient it becomes. You want to keep your counters to no more than approximately 15 feet in length. Any longer, and you will simply be running back and forth too much.
Corners can be tricky. Some corner cabinets can be too deep, meaning things regularly get “lost” towards the back. Other corner cabinets do not maximize the available space. Look into cabinetry that is ergonomically designed for a corner.
Work with a designer to make sure that you are installing your appliances in the best possible locations. Putting an appliance with a hinged door to close to the corner can block off cabinets or drawers when it is open.
Hopefully this list has given you a few things to think about. Remember that with a professional designer and a trusted contractor, you can maximize the space and efficiency of any kitchen, no matter how small or cramped you might think it is now. Professionals can take the guesswork out of your kitchen layout decisions. Even the most bizarre or poorly laid out kitchens, can become attractive and functional spaces with the right touch.
A kitchen renovation is a great investment in your home. It will add to your enjoyment, make your household chores less bothersome, and even add to the property value. Families spend so much time in their kitchens, and any improvement of this important room will make a huge difference.