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A Guide to the 6 Common Kitchen Layouts

by Albert Lee Appliance

When it comes to your kitchen, the appliances, the dining furniture, and the design are all important factors of a successful culinary space, but the right layout is the most important factor in ensuring your cooking area is both functional and practical. Whether your kitchen is tight and congested or large and free-flowing, a clever layout will help you make the most out of your space. 

You need plenty of room for traffic to flow in and out of, you need ample space for conversation, and you need enough elbow room to prepare and serve meals. A successful kitchen layout involves much more than the placement of your cabinetry—ergonomics plays a tremendous role in the satisfaction of your kitchen. This means making sure measurements are accurate, establishing a comfortable area for movement, and focusing on ease-of-use when it comes to your cooking appliances.

Now, while your kitchen layout might be limited by your floorplan, you can always enhance and optimize your kitchen area to look and perform more efficiently. Our guide to the 6 common kitchen layouts will help you do exactly that.

Kitchen Layouts 101 

Before we jump right into the kitchen layouts, let’s first sit down for a quick lesson and overview of kitchen ergonomics. We briefly mentioned ergonomics in the introduction, which helps create the basis of a stellar kitchen design. To put it simply, it’s all about designing an environment to fit the individuals that use or inhabit it. One way to successfully measure efficiency in the kitchen is the work triangle. Essentially, the work triangle creates a clear path between the area used for cooking, the area used for cleaning, and the area used for storage. These three locations help create the perfect “triangle” in your cooking space so your kitchen can function properly.  

And for more tips on the principles of the work triangle, click here for a more in-depth look.

1. The One-Wall Kitchen 

Time to get down to brass tacks. The first layout on our list is the one-wall kitchen. This simple layout is typically found in smaller kitchens—offering an efficient cooking space without sacrificing functionality. The basis for this layout consists of upper or lower cabinets placed against a single wall for a clean and streamlined aesthetic.  

The best way to maximize this layout is to utilize your kitchen’s vertical space. Your width will be somewhat limited, so take your cabinets as far up as possible to increase storage space. If your cabinets do not go all the way to the ceiling, you can use this place as a display area to strengthen the design of your kitchen.  

This kitchen layout is the answer for small homes and condos. Keeping the work triangle in mind, you’re able to flatten your space by placing the sink and refrigerator on opposite ends; with the range positioned in the middle between the two. This allows for maximum efficiency without disturbing your workflow in the kitchen, and it helps create a cohesive structure that won’t feel too constricted.  

2. The Galley Kitchen 

The galley kitchen is a little different than the one-wall—consisting of two rows of cabinets facing each other, creating an inner galley between them. This layout utilizes every square-inch with no corner cabinets to configure, so no space is wasted. It's a relatively simple layout to achieve, and because it doesn’t require many special additions, it’s a cost-efficient option.   

Placing your cooktop on one side and the refrigerator and kitchen sink on the other side of the wall allows for an easy workflow and opens the rest of your house on either one or both ends. The ideal width for a galley kitchen is 7 to 12 feet and it flows well in a rectangular design space.  

The additional row of cabinetry offered by the gallery kitchen provides more flexibility when it comes to storage. Especially if you have a big family or multiple cooking appliances, it is the most efficient layout for a narrow kitchen space. This helps you avoid any traffic in the walk paths and reduce the risk of kitchen injuries.  

3. The L-Shaped Kitchen 

The L-shape is a practical and popular layout for small and large kitchens alike. The L-shape kitchen includes workspaces along two adjoining walls that run perpendicular to one another. The spacious and open design of the L-shape offers greater flexibility for meal prep and the placement of appliances. This layout works well for two cooks working in the kitchen at the same time because there are no traffic lanes that flow through the work area.  

Where space allows, you can incorporate a center island that doubles as a workspace and an eating area, or you can install a walk-in pantry cupboard. This way, you won’t lose valuable space and you’ll gain a huge, multi-functional asset in your cooking space. The L-shape kitchen can open into another room for entertaining purposes, or you can even create a small breakfast nook, further increasing your kitchen’s versatility and your use of the space.  

4. The U-Shaped Kitchen 

The U-shape layout is the best kitchen for larger kitchens. It consists of cabinetry along three adjacent walls, surrounding the cook on each side and allowing for ample countertop space. It can feel enclosed if there are upper cabinets on all three walls, so get creative with open shelving, tile, and even a range hood to help take up space on one of the walls.  

The U-shaped kitchen creates an efficient work triangle and allows for the entire family to work in the kitchen at the same time. This kitchen arrangement typically separates the cooking space from the dining space, so it is ideal if you value an open, uninhibited eating area and uncluttered space along kitchen surfaces and windows. 

5. The Island Kitchen 

The island kitchen is a popular choice in modern kitchens because it allows your creativity to shine through. It provides a large work surface and storage area in the center of your kitchen. Storage options include drawers or cabinets built into the sides of the island. The size will determine the amount of space you have, but you can even incorporate an under-counter fridge or a wine cooler if space permits. 

If you aren’t as flashy, it can be used simply as a convenient preparation zone during mealtimes. Its central location makes it a great feature for natural traffic flow in your kitchen. A kitchen island can be utilized as both a work and a social area where friends and family can interact while meals are cooking. Because of its location, it’s also a great place to install overhead lights or any other kind of prominent and decorative task lighting. 

6. The Peninsula Kitchen 

Last on our list in the peninsula kitchen. It's related to the kitchen island, but it differs slightly with a separate kitchen counter that juts out from a wall or existing kitchen cabinetry. It's a great solution if you require more space because it offers all the benefits of a kitchen island if you do not have the space for an independent island to be installed. The peninsula kitchen layout is used for food prep, eating, or any other culinary task needed while the cook is busy at work.   

To simplify this concept a little more, it’s basically a connected island, converting the L-shape kitchen into a U-shape. Peninsulas perform and function much like island counters but offer more clearance in kitchens that do not have the proper square footage to allow for a true kitchen island.  

Beyond increased interaction space, a peninsula kitchen layout is a great solution for a smaller, enclosed kitchen, where you have a wall adjacent to your dining area.  

What’s Your Ideal Kitchen Layout? 

Now that you know a little more about kitchen layouts, what type of kitchen layout do you have? When evaluating your space, consider what setup might work, what kind of appliances you have, and if you’re ready for a full-blown remodel. If you have questions about what makes a successful kitchen layout, or if you’re interested in new kitchen appliances to match your cooking space, give us a call or visit us at Albert Lee to find the right products to coincide with your kitchen design.