Guide to Kitchen Layouts

By: Adrienne O'Docharty

The modern kitchen is not just a space for cooking, it’s also the central gathering place of a home. It’s not just where we prep, bake, cook, and eat—it’s where we enjoy a glass of wine with a friend, pack the kids’ lunches, entertain guests, and even get some work done.

When designing or redesigning the perfect kitchen, create a comfortable space to not only prepare and cook meals, but gather with company while also making the best use of and improving the existing space.

What to consider when choosing a kitchen layout

The most important consideration when choosing a kitchen layout is the placement of the three main appliances—the sink, refrigerator, and stove. If you were to draw a line to connect these, you would form a triangle. Within this triangle is where most of the movement in your kitchen will take place. To create a comfortable experience, these three appliances should be relatively close.

Consider next the size and shape of the space. What is the size, the shape, and the flow of your kitchen space? Larger, open spaces can afford G-shaped or L-shaped kitchens, whereas spaces that serve as passageways to other parts of the house may be restricted to using galley or one-wall layouts. How many people you anticipate having in your kitchen at a given time as well as how often you entertain will also affect your kitchen layout choices.

If you’re renovating an existing space, keep in mind that a kitchen remodel can add 82.7% of the project’s cost to the value of the home. So even if you choose a minor upgrade, you stand to increase the value of your home or apartment.

Types of kitchen layouts

Now that you’re ready to begin your design or renovation, here’s a guide to the pros and cons of the five most common kitchen layouts.

The one-wall kitchen

Kitchens with limited space such as those found in bungalows, cottages, small townhomes, or apartments are usually ideal for a one-wall layout. Appliances are close together and allow for most things to be within arm’s reach while cooking. This layout works great for one to two-person households or for people who don’t cook often.

Keeping a kitchen to one wall will also open up a home’s floor plan and give the illusion of a large space. A one-wall layout is also an affordable kitchen to create as well as update.

Keep in mind that one-wall kitchens tend to have little counter space, which can make food prep especially difficult. Cabinetry and storage are also minimal and make clutter easier to form.

The galley kitchen

Galley layouts consist of two walls that form a narrow, hallway-like kitchen. This layout is usually found in smaller homes in which the kitchen serves passage to other parts of the house. This is a great layout if youre short on space as galley kitchens use the narrow space but double the counter and storage space of a one-wall kitchen.

Although this layout creates a work triangle ideal for cooking, large families and those who love to entertain will find a galley kitchen difficult to navigate without disrupting work flow. Also keep in mind that expanding a galley kitchen is often impossible unless you take out a wall.

The L-shaped kitchen

The most common layout, the L-shaped kitchen is efficient in multiple ways. L-shaped kitchens enhance an open floor plan and are perfect for medium-sized kitchens, roughly 240–360 square feet. Although the distance between appliances is greater than in a one-wall or gallery kitchen, the work triangle is completely open and makes movement fluid. Depending on the size of the space, you may have room for additions such as a dinette table or island.

There are very few drawbacks to an L-shaped kitchen, however, if you choose to do the renovation yourself, the corner cabinet can be tricky to install and difficult to use.

The U-shaped kitchen

Great for larger homes and bigger families, the U-shaped kitchen provides ample storage and counter space. Prep stations can be created without disrupting the work triangle, which makes cooking more enjoyable and entertaining easier.

Additions like islands and dining tables fit easily into this layout. With these advantages, a U-shaped kitchen can be a huge selling point for future buyers who will love the available options.

However, while some homeowners enjoy large kitchens, others may find it bothersome to move from one prep station to another across the room. Make sure your space is large enough for this layout, otherwise your kitchen could feel closed in.

The peninsula or G-shaped kitchen

A peninsula or G-shaped kitchen design is essentially the same as a U-shaped kitchen but with the addition of a small extended counter. A pair of stools can be placed by this counter to create a space for entertaining or giving the kids a place to hang out while you cook.

Kitchens with this layout tend to have the most storage and work space out of any of the five layouts, making it the most ideal kitchen design if your space allows.

Island additions

Certain layouts such as the L-shaped, U-shaped, or peninsula allow for the addition of a small central counter space called an island. An island creates extra work space and storage and can be used as a dining surface with a few stools or high chairs. Just make sure this addition doesn’t block your work triangle, otherwise movement and prep will be difficult.


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