Small Galley Kitchen Design

Get inspiration for a small galley kitchen design, and prepare to add an efficient and attractive design to your kitchen space.
White Galley Kitchen

White Galley Kitchen

A narrow kitchen with yellow laminate flooring has grey built-in wall cabinets and matching cabinets under white countertops. A single ceiling light illuminates the room.

A narrow kitchen with yellow laminate flooring has grey built-in wall cabinets and matching cabinets under white countertops. A single ceiling light illuminates the room.

By: Sean McEvoy

Many of today's homes feature large kitchens that serve as spaces for cooking, cleaning and gathering. If your home is a cozier affair with a more efficient kitchen, you may want to consider options for small galley kitchen design.

A Guide to Kitchen Layouts

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Galley Kitchen

Once four small rooms with a staircase jutting through the middle, this revamped kitchen/living space is now open and airy. By laying out the kitchen prep and dining areas as a long efficient galley, designers Kathy Hoffman and Susan Fredman of the Susan Fredman Design Group made the space functional without crowding the living space.

Galley Kitchen

"Creating visual impact and maintaining functionality in this narrow space was my biggest challenge with this project," says Vita Buffa, CKD, CBD, NCIDQ. To meet the challenge and give her client a gorgeous, green galley, Buffa moved an antique table that was beautiful but impeded traffic flow, and relocated the refrigerator and microwave to the opposite wall in order to create a more aesthetically pleasing view when sitting in the adjacent room.

Galley Kitchen

This 8-foot-wide kitchen by Aimee Nemeckay and Terri Crittenden for the Susan Fredman Design Group hangs a turn into the adjacent dining room. To make it appear larger, the designers continue the horizontal lines down the long kitchen both in the kerf, or incised line, of the cabinets and the flooring. The cabinets reaching the ceiling draw the eye up as well.

Photo By: Nick Novelli NovelliPhotoDesign ©Nick Novelli

Galley Kitchen

By removing the two half walls between the dining and living area of this 1960s bungalow, designer Nathalie Tremblay was able to enlarge the kitchen, create an open feel and provide a better layout and traffic flow of the kitchen, dining and living space. And many of the tricks she employed to maximize space in this galley would work well for any small kitchen: She used 24-inch-deep refrigerator/freezer for space saving and better traffic flow, created a work "triangle" despite the corridor-like shape of the actual space, and chose a simple, black-and-white palette to keep visual clutter to a minimum.

Galley Kitchen

To keep this small galley kitchen looking as great as it works, Natalia Pierce, AKBD, chose a neutral, earthy palette and installed a comfortable window seat. The flow of light from the adjacent dining room through the pass-through keeps the kitchen connected to the rest of the home and puts hosts in touch with dinner guests. Art at the far end wall keeps the kitchen from looking like a dead-end.

U-Shaped Kitchen

Pre-renovation, this kitchen was tiny and cut off from the rest of the house. Designer Linda Evans, CKD, CBD, CAPS, knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, and turned the former into a horseshoe that not only maximizes space but creates a delineation between the kitchen and dining spots.

U-Shaped Kitchen

To add extra prep and storage space to this tiny kitchen, Natalia Pierce, AKBD, added two peninsulas, creating a U-shaped kitchen. A raised bar was added on the sink side to break up the site lines through the space.

U-Shaped Kitchen

As a secondary kitchen on the top floor of a gorgeous art deco home, this space doesn't have to be big but it did have to work efficiently. Designer Myriem Drainer took the best elements of U- shaped and L-shaped kitchens to create this one-of-a kind design. Clean lines and a marble backsplash that extends to the ceiling create an illusion of a wider and brighter space, and small as it is, the counter configuration provides surprisingly ample prep and dining space.

L-Shaped Kitchen

Designer Nathalie Tremblay opened up and moved walls to create this L-shaped kitchen/dining area for clients who love to entertain. An L shape keeps the hosts near their guests while cooking, and still allows guests to eat without feeling like they're on top of the stove.

L-Shaped Kitchen

This kitchen's long, efficient prep area resembles a galley layout but is only half of this L-shaped kitchen which turns a corner for maximum prep space and eat-in dining. Design by Amy Alper.

L-Shaped Kitchen

This kitchen, which won First Place in large kitchen category at NKBA Ontario Design Awards in 2013, uses an L-shaped floor plan and T-configured center island to maximize space, and to create the sleek, masculine look designer Nathalie Tremblay's client requested.

Pentagonal Kitchen

It's no secret that squeezing maximum efficiency out of a five-sided kitchen with strange angles took a lot of creativity. Eric Lindroth of Remodel Works Bath and Kitchen moved walls to extend the floor's footprint under the vaulted ceiling, removed soffits and building supports in the attic for the existing rafters, and extended the existing walls to the ceiling.

Curvilinear Kitchen

When her client – an engineer and metal sculptor – told Rhonda Knoche, CMKBD, that he hated symmetry and straight lines, and that he wanted a kitchen that would make him smile, she listened. The main prep area widens to accommodate kitchen action – and, occasionally, dancing. The long wall is slightly bowed to meet the deeper front of the range, tapering back at either end to the standard 24" deep cabinets. And the kitchen island is an ice-cream-cone shape. "The partition looking toward the entry could've been a straight wall," says Knoche, "but whenever I threw this client a curve, he was at the plate."

Photo By: Kevin Felts © 2009 Kevin Felts Cabin40 Images

Wedge-Shaped Kitchen

To make the most of this wedge-shaped kitchen, Eric Lindroth of Remodel Works Kitchen and Bath replaced the existing rectangular island with a wedge-shaped one. By echoing the room's perimeter shape, you can keep walking aisles consistent, so that the room feels balanced and nothing appears forced or mismatched. With its wider end, the island fits all the homeowner's baking needs, and offers close proximity to the stove.

Wedge-Shaped Kitchen

That's no optical illusion: This kitchen by Ines Hanl of The Sky's The Limit Design really is shaped like a wedge. Rather than fight the odd shape, Hanl she played with it, and created an acutely angled island and banquette, then decorated the space with a funky '50s vibe. Lesson learned: In a space that flows oddly, it's sometimes best to just go with the flow.

Kitchen Styles and Themes

Learn how to style your kitchen or create a theme and decorate for your kitchen's layout.

By following a few simple guidelines, you should be able to make a smaller galley kitchen space seem larger and function more efficiently.

Galley kitchen design features a few common components, and chief among them is the traditional layout for a galley kitchen—these kitchen designs generally feature a narrow passage situated between two parallel walls. Normally, one wall features cooking components including the stove and any other smaller ovens, as well as storage elements. The opposite wall is usually home to the sink and any other cleaning fixtures, plus more storage. Smaller galley kitchens generally cut out the otherwise occasionally featured island between the two walls, as this can be an impediment to movement within a particularly small space.

If you're designing a small galley kitchen or looking to remodel an existing one, it's likely that job one for you will be to maximize the space you have to work with. Kitchen lore states that the ideal width of a galley kitchen aisle is approximately 4 to 6 feet—but whether your small galley kitchen is dead on with that measurement or even smaller, you can create a more efficient space and also add design features that can expand the area visually.

There are plenty of tricks that can help you expand the appearance of depth, height and width in your kitchen, and the best way to start is at the bottom. Firstly, make sure that floor boards run lengthwise, to create the illusion of a longer kitchen space. If you plan to feature a backsplash or other wall design, consider arranging the tiles in opposition to the floorboards' orientation—this will help to create the illusion of depth in the space. Finally, consider raising cabinets or appliances off the floor—if they're flush, the entire space will seem shorter, but raising them slightly will give the appearance of a space with more height.

You can also consider hiding appliances entirely, behind cabinets or with paneling that mimics the look of your cabinet design. Clean lines give the impression of a larger space, whereas multiple appliances arrayed throughout the space can make it seem cluttered. The note about clean lines can apply to cabinets as well—you'll want to keep these as simple and unadorned as possible, since any intricate designs may serve to crowd the space.

When it comes to color schemes for your small galley kitchen, light and bright is a great idea—lighter colors tend to open up spaces, whereas darker ones create a cozy feel but can make a small space feel claustrophobic.

Finally, consider adding efficient storage options like lazy Susans, cabinet door organizers and tall pantry storage to your small galley kitchen. This will help ensure that everything you have to store is close at hand but organized efficiently behind closed doors.

Small But Mighty Kitchens

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