How to Decorate a Galley Kitchen

Explore ideas for how to decorate a galley kitchen, and prepare add style and interest to an efficient kitchen design.
Stylish Gray Kitchen With Moroccan Detail

Stylish Gray Kitchen With Moroccan Detail

A Moroccan tile backsplash in neutral tones is the focal point of this gray Spanish style kitchen. Arched doorways mimic the niche behind the stove, while white cabinetry on either side provide plenty of storage space.

A Moroccan tile backsplash in neutral tones is the focal point of this gray Spanish style kitchen. Arched doorways mimic the niche behind the stove, while white cabinetry on either side provide plenty of storage space.

By: Sean McEvoy

It's easy to enjoy the functional aspects of a small, efficient galley kitchen. Learning how to decorate a galley kitchen can ensure that the kitchen space you spend time in with friends, family and guests will be both functional and attractive.

Small Kitchens: 8 Design Ideas to Try

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Focus on Function

A small kitchen cannot accommodate homework, mail storage, laundry duties and recipe hunting. Unless you don't cook at all, the small kitchen's main chore is meal prep. So focus first on function, making sure you have the appliances and work areas you need. You may be able to save a bit of space by using scaled-down or innovative appliances, including refrigerator and freezer drawers and pint-sized microwaves, stoves (some with just two burners) and single sinks. If workspace is at a premium, consider a small-scale island or a counter-topped cart that can be rolled into a closet when not in use.

Open Up Cupboards

Tiny kitchens can feel claustrophobic when cabinets are towering overhead. Many cooks can't reach what's in them and the overall feeling is boxy and closed in. Get organized and trade the top cupboards for open storage. Consider shelving, pot racks and magnetic knife or spice holders instead. Your kitchen will look more spacious and serve up display space for your favorite dishes, shiny pots and pans, or artwork.

Mix Up the Materials

Because your kitchen may be short on interesting architectural details, it's up to you to add the all-important style via compelling countertop surfaces, cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting and color. To ensure a cohesive look, create a mix board with samples and swatches of materials under consideration. One tip: Using the same color and style of fixtures and cabinet pulls can help unify a look.

From: Ammie Kim

Go for Glass

One of the easiest ways to visually expand a kitchen is to incorporate glass. Try a glass counter or tabletop, tile, door cabinets or kitchen doors that lead to the outside world or to the next room. Mirrors, in a backsplash or strategically placed around a room, or pass-through windows into the next room, also lighten up the look.

Visually Expand With Lighting

A small kitchen requires a combination of task and atmospheric lighting. To counteract the bluish cast of fluorescent lighting and add drama, install pendant lights in the eating area, incandescent lighting underneath upper cabinets and incandescent spot lighting above cabinetry. Lighting can also be installed under base cabinetry so it shines down onto the toe plate.

Invest in Flooring

Where does the eye go when one walks into a room? Often it goes down — right to that dust bunny or scuffed floor. That's why flooring in a small kitchen is so important. Linoleum in a checkerboard pattern can be really eye-catching and relatively inexpensive. Since square footage is small, you may be able to afford a beautiful tumbled marble. Marble tends to be cold and hard underfoot, but the impact may be worth it. Or try cork, a beautiful — and eco-friendly — choice.

Go Bold With Color

The color of walls, appliances, counters, stools — even the dishtowels — can change the atmosphere and perceived size of the kitchen. Pastels or light colors, with good doses of white, reflect light and draw the eye up, making ceilings appear higher. Bold colorations can be very effective in smaller kitchens. How about some Porsche red metal cabinets with celery green walls and a banana-colored concrete countertop?

Embrace the Space

Rather than using tricks to visually enlarge the space, consider embracing your kitchen as-is. Instead of going light or sleek, opt for country cozy. Make sure there is a little nook where you can sit with a visitor knee-to-knee. Or choose a rich dark color that creates a sophisticated feeling — and use accessories that emphasize that look. The kitchen is small, yes, but it sure is inviting.

Galley kitchens take their inspiration from the small, utilitarian kitchens found on ships and aircraft. Generally speaking, these kitchens feature two walls, with a narrow passageway located between them. In a traditional galley kitchen, the passageway measures anywhere from 4 to 6 feet wide, although larger galley kitchens may now expand that width and even feature kitchen islands for added seating, storage and food preparation space.

The two-walled design of a galley kitchen maintains the traditional "work triangle" that's essential to any effective kitchen design—this refers to the triangle created by the stove, refrigerator and sink. If cooks can easily access all of these kitchen features, cooking will be much more efficient and enjoyable. Galley kitchens generally achieve this design by placing two components of the triangle on one wall of the kitchen, and the third component on the opposite wall.

One of the first things to consider when planning to decorate a galley kitchen is the color scheme. Because they tend to be slim, small spaces, galley kitchens occasionally run the risk of appearing dark and cramped. So lightening up the space with the use of light and bright colors can be a great start. Consider using whites, creams or light yellows for walls and backsplashes; try whites or light, natural woods for cabinets.

Add interest and bring nature inside by featuring vases of flowers on countertops, and continue the natural theme with an elegantly placed bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables. Countertops can also be a great place to display unique and attractive storage elements like mason jars or other large, decorative glass containers, filled with stores ready for use in your galley kitchen.

Storage can be an issue in some galley kitchens, so you may want to consider adding a portable kitchen island to your design, if the space will allow for one. An island can add a great storage option, as many of them feature drawers, cabinets and convenient features like pull-out garbage cans or wine racks.

Another decorative flourish to consider in a galley kitchen is lighting. Many galley kitchens utilize most, if not all, of the available height of the space for cabinets—which can mean that upper and lower cabinets are nearly flush with the ceiling and floor, respectively. To ensure that the space doesn't look too cramped, try creating the impression of an overall taller design. Consider adding subtle decorative lighting below and above the cabinets; this will illuminate the floor and ceiling and expand your galley kitchen visually.

Small But Mighty Kitchens

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