U-Shaped Kitchen Design Ideas

Explore U-shaped kitchen design ideas, and get ready to add a stylish and efficient design to your home's kitchen.
Bright White Kitchen

Bright White Kitchen

This traditional all-white kitchen with light hardwood flooring,features a granite-topped kitchen island, gorgeous pendant lighting, and spectacular window allowing for natural light to flood the space.

This traditional all-white kitchen with light hardwood flooring,features a granite-topped kitchen island, gorgeous pendant lighting, and spectacular window allowing for natural light to flood the space.

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're considering a kitchen remodel or planning to install a brand new kitchen and you've got a bit of space to work with, one of your first tasks will be to explore U-shaped kitchen design ideas.

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.

U-shaped kitchens are often a preference of homeowners with a larger kitchen space; they require three adjacent walls, and many homeowners use the space in the middle to feature a kitchen island, perfect for food preparation and extra storage. Because of their larger design and luxurious utility, U-shaped kitchen layouts are favorites of homeowners looking for a large, functional and attractive kitchen space that can be used for cooking and cleaning as well as for conversation and gathering.

When you start researching common kitchen layouts, the term "work triangle" is likely to come up again and again. This mantra of kitchen layout design refers to the triangular spacing that creates a convenient relationship between three key elements of any kitchen: the stove, sink and refrigerator. Almost all kitchen layouts will feature some version of the work triangle—and you should be a bit leery of any that don't (and have a contractor on speed dial). The bottom line is that no cook wants to beat an inconvenient (and potentially disastrous or even dangerous during meal preparation) path from stove to sink to refrigerator. So even if you're considering a unique layout for your U-shaped kitchen design, you should definitely make every effort to maintain the work triangle.

A hallmark of U-shaped kitchen design is its full use of three adjacent walls. Other kitchen designs—like L-shapes and galley kitchens, for example—use only two walls. This may, in some cases, increase the efficiency of these designs—in a galley kitchen, which consists of two parallel walls with a narrow corridor between them, cooks may simply need to pivot 180 degrees in order to access cooking features, then do an about-face to turn their attention to cleaning. The disadvantage of galley or L-shaped kitchens in comparison to U-shaped kitchens, of course, comes down to space. U-shaped kitchens by their nature generally are larger and provide more space for cooking, cleaning, food preparation and storage. In most U-shaped kitchens, these elements are separated into distinct zones.

Often, the cleaning features of a U-shaped kitchen will be located on the external-facing wall—or the "bottom of the U." One side wall will generally be dedicated to cooking features—the range and any other smaller ovens will generally be located here. This side wall will also usually feature storage elements in the form of cabinets and drawers. The opposite side wall will generally feature more storage, including the refrigerator, freezer and any other food storage elements.

Popular Kitchen Layouts

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