A kitchen is more than just a place where we prepare meals. It is the center of activity, family interaction, a place to socialize and a point of pride and joy.
Understanding kitchen layout strengths and weaknesses will help you to ensure maximum space efficiency and functionality. Deciding on a right layout is the crucial part of designing your kitchen. Fortunately, homeowners have a variety of options to choose. The most common kitchen layouts include:
- One-Wall Kitchen,
- U-Shape and Island,
- L-Shape and Island;
Each space is unique however there are certain constraints and standard settings that you need to consider while renovating your kitchen. Knowing advantages and disadvantages of each layout will be helpful to gaining an efficient and enjoyable space.
Before you decide which kitchen design is ideal for your home, you need to know the concept of the work triangle. Work triangles consist of 3 components: the refrigerator, sink, and cooktop. These are the three top zones of your kitchen activities. Now, let’s get to the point, imagine an invisible triangle shape between those three appliances. It is the work triangle – with enough space to work efficiently and move around between each workstation. It is important to be familiar with this concept, as it provides maximum functionality in your kitchen. Therefore, while making a decision on the perfect layout, take into consideration the placement of your work triangle.
One-Wall Kitchen For the Cozy Apartment or Small House
The single-wall kitchen plan is a perfect configuration for smaller homes, holiday cabins and apartments. Even though you cannot implement the classic kitchen triangle, there are no obstacles in the traffic flow. One-wall kitchen layout with its linear design adapts well to open plan arrangements or confined spaces with limited room. While it is the least functional plan, it requires meticulous planning to ensure maximum efficiency at the workstations.
- ideal setting for a family room,
- adapts well to open plan living rooms,
- most space-saving of the floor plans,
- perfect design for small houses, apartments or holiday cabins,
- due to clean lines there are no obstacles in traffic flow,
- because this plan is commonly used for confined spaces, the costs of installation are considerably lower;
- it is the least functional plan as you cannot implement the kitchen triangle,
- requires careful planning to ensure maximum efficiency,
- it becomes cramped and cluttered easily,
- lack of enough storage, therefore some products need to go to the pantry,
- compact appliances will add extra counter space to allow enough room for cooking and meal preparation (like a cooktop with a dishwasher combo);
Tip #1: The best way to decorate a single wall kitchen is to use light colors. Avoid patterns, so that is will not appear small or cramped. Minimize contrast or rough textures to provide an optical illusion of space.
Tip#2: Make sure to provide enough counter space between appliances. The optimal layout for the cooktop and refrigerator is placing them on opposite sides of the sink. Leave at least 16” between appliances for efficiency and functionality of the kitchen.
Galley Kitchen Layout for Narrow Spaces
At some point in our lives, most everyone has lived in a rented apartment or house with a galley kitchen. You can often spot such layout in long, narrow rooms. It is a relatively affordable configuration, which consists of two walls facing each other with some room between them. If you are tight on budget, and short on square footage, then a galley plan is a fantastic option. When it comes to efficiency, the galley kitchen is probably the most functional of all layouts. Ships, airplanes, and commercial restaurants are designed in similar fashion.
- a galley kitchen that is open on both sides creates a feeling of connection between family members,
- this plan does not take up to much space,
- the galley layout ensures a smooth workflow while cooking and meal preparation,
- two walls of cabinetry on opposite walls offer a possibility of all the kitchen essentials within reach,
- long and narrow space in between helps to bring sufficient light in,
- lots of cabinet units are ideal for storing pots, pans, glassware and plates,
- the stove and sink on the same wall keep the messiest part close to the cleanup zone;
- this layout is a challenge not to become a walking aisle instead of a traditional cooking area,
- easily get crowded and cramped, leaving no workspace flexibility for more than one cook,
- due to a little space between walls, does not function well as a dining or socializing spot,
- offers not enough room for a kitchen island in the middle,
- the shape of the galley layout limits the chances of remodeling in the future;
Tip#1: The galley kitchen provides ample space for implementing the classic kitchen triangle. Assuming that the room is at least 10 feet wide, you can position the sink, refrigerator and the cooktop between 4 to 9 feet apart, ensuring the triangle shape. The work triangle in the galley layout provides maximum efficiency and functionality of the space.
Tip#2: The most challenging aspect of the kitchen galley is not treating the room as a walking aisle. Designing sliding doors on one side or creating a dining nook to confide the space will lessen the excess of foot traffic.
U-Shape Kitchen Perfect for One-Cook
A U-shape kitchen layout reminds a corridor or a galley kitchen with a closed end. This type of design offers extra space for a cooktop or cleanup area. On one hand, this configuration provides good workflow as it utilizes the classic kitchen triangle. On another hand though this arrangement takes up lots of floor space for a functional design. Similarly to the galley and single-wall layouts, a U-shaped kitchen is ideal for one primary cook, working efficiently between a stove, sink, and fridge. The u-shape design, with one end closed off, prevents heavy foot traffic of family members who tend to treat kitchen as walk aisle between rooms.
- creates intimate feeling while offering more counter and storage room,
- offers a naturally enclosed nook for socializing or eating,
- perfect for open-plan living rooms or dining areas,
- the flexible layout that works well for small houses or large, spacious spaces,
- you can place a dining table in the center, creating a casual dining spot,
- the u-shape plan may feature a kitchen island in the middle, providing the space permits ( watch out for industry guidelines recommending 3 ½ feet gap between the island unit and cabinetry, for a smooth workflow),
- ensures plenty of room for meal preparation, cooking, cleaning up and interaction;
- does not offer enough space for a standard size kitchen table with six chairs,
- due to confined space, it may be hard to fit the dishwasher next to the sink,
- lots of bulky, dark corner cabinets providing plenty of storage room but it is highly likely to lose some pots and pans in there,
- while cooking or meal preparation you may feel cut off from the rest of the house,
- suitable for just one cook,
- this kitchen design requires a minimum of 10 feet width of a room,
- takes up lots of square footage of the household;
Tip#1: U-Shape kitchen plan allows for implementing the kitchen triangle work zone.If you have enough room for the kitchen island in the center, one of the elements of the kitchen triangle should be placed by the island unit. However, if you stick to the original u-shape, make sure to house the sink, stove and refrigerator at the base of the “U” layout for maximum functionality of the kitchen.
Tip#2: If your spouse or little ones love helping you out in meal preparation, consider providing extra work space for the new cook. Keep that zone out of the kitchen triangle, or think of adding bar stools at one of the countertops.
L-Shape Kitchen the Most Popular Option
The L-shaped kitchen features miles of counter space along two walls forming an “L” shape. It is often spotted in a square- or rectangular-shaped rooms. The L-design can be adjacent to the dining room or living room creating an open-plan space. It is the most attractive option for a variety of reasons. First of all, it does not require plenty of square footage, making it an ideal design for small and medium sized kitchens. The L-shape plan minimizes foot traffic, offering the perfect spot for casual gathering and socializing. It also employs the classic kitchen triangle, requiring less space and providing more flexibility between the workstations.
- since the layout depends on two adjacent walls only, it is the most popular plan for medium-sized kitchens,
- open floor plan is perfect for families due to lack of foot traffic,
- practical and versatile design, with lots of room to maneuver,
- stylish and social, you can easily incorporate a dining table into the “L” shape,
- you can transform the space to suit best your needs by adding a kitchen island unit,
- it is a non-confining space which offers plenty of floor and storage space;
- appliances can be very spread out which is inefficient for cooking or meal prep,
- deep, corner cabinets may create difficulties for reaching pots and pans,
- the kitchen island in the middle can lessen the hassle with cooking, diminishing the size of your work triangle,
- while focusing on fitting everything into the “L” shape, we might forget about the functionality of the workflow,
- not enough storage space, so additional cabinets or island is required;
Tip#1: For the most efficient and functional kitchen, ensure one leg of the L-shape design from 12 to 16 feet long. Such length will provide ample space for maneuvering and lots of countertop surfaces for working.
Tip#2: Finish off taller cabinets in the same color palette as the walls, so they blend with the rest of the room. That will create an eye-fooling trick of extra space.
The kitchen is called the crown jewel, the heart of your home for a reason. It is the area, where families spend much of their time together, mingling, chatting, and having fun. A great kitchen, with the right layout suited best to the needs of the family, can be a valuable asset to any home. Create the kitchen of your dreams with careful planning and meticulous research.