Top 6 Kitchen Layouts
The traditional work triangle that separates the sink, range and refrigerator has evolved into a more practical "work zone" concept.
"We have gone from the traditional kitchen, where one person prepared meals to a multi-purpose room and a multiple-cook room, and this evolution has changed us from looking at one work triangle to multiple triangles, or 'zones,'" says Mary Jo Peterson, principal, Mary Jo Peterson Inc. "With that in mind, we have to increase clearances and look at adding comfortable spaces in the kitchen."
Popular Kitchen Layouts
Basic Kitchen Layout Guide
Still, these tried-and-true kitchen layouts still apply to today's lifestyles—with modifications.
Basic Kitchen Layout Types
One-wall. Originally called the "Pullman kitchen," the one-wall kitchen layout is generally found in studio or loft spaces because it’s the ultimate space saver. Cabinets and appliances are fixed on a single wall. Most modern designs also include an island, which evolves the space into a sort of Galley style with a walk-through corridor. Download a sample floorplan.
When designing a one-wall, or single wall, kitchen, consider the placement and spacing of the elements of your work triangle: refrigerator, sink and stove/oven. In this layout, the designer built in counter space between each element to suit the homeowner's needs. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchens.
Galley. This efficient, “lean” layout is ideal for smaller spaces and one-cook kitchens. The galley kitchen, also called a walk-through kitchen, is characterized by two walls opposite of each other—or two parallel countertops with a walkway in between them. Galleys make the best use of every square inch of space, and there are no troublesome corner cabinets to configure, which can add to a cabinetry budget. Download a sample floorplan.
Sleek, Modern Layout
A galley kitchen's layout is characterized by two parallel countertops with a walkway in between them. In this design by Andreas Charalambous, the dining area is on one end of the kitchen and the entryway is on the other.
L-Shape. An L-shaped kitchen solves the problem of maximizing corner space, and it’s a smart design for small and medium sized kitchens. The versatile L-shaped kitchen consists of countertops on two adjoining walls that are perpendicular, forming an L. The “legs” of the L can be as long as you want, though keeping them less than 12 to 15 feet will allow you to efficiently use the space.
With an L-shaped layout, you’ll eliminate traffic: The kitchen will not become a thoroughfare because it’s just not logistically possible. Plus, you can easily add a dining space and multiple work zones to this layout. However, avoid this layout if your kitchen is large and can support other configurations, such as adding an island, or if multiple cooks will be using the space. Download a sample floorplan.
Functional Kitchen Island
If your L-shaped kitchen is large enough to accommodate one, an island is a great addition for entertaining and extra counter space. This kitchen's spacious island with a sink allows the cook to face guests while preparing food.
Overhead Kitchen Storage
While large windows provide a gorgeous view and fill this kitchen with natural light, they take up space that could be used for storage. An island with shelving and a ceiling-mounted pot rack solve the problem, adding additional storage for dishes and cookware. Design by Greta Goss
Room for Two Chefs
Unlike some kitchen layouts, L-shaped kitchens are often large enough to accommodate multiple people. This kitchen's dual professional-style ranges and ample counter space allow two cooks to work at the same time, while the office nook and central island can be used for snacks or studying. Design by Alan Hilsabeck, Jr.
Horseshoe. The horseshoe, or U-shape, kitchen layout has three walls of cabinets/appliances. Today, this design has evolved from three walls to an L-shaped kitchen with an island forming the third “wall.” “This design works well because it allows for traffic flow and workflow around the island,” says Mary Jo Peterson, principal, Mary Jo Peterson Inc. “You can get more cooks into the kitchen.” Download a sample floorplan.
Smart Kitchen Storage
In this cozy English Country-style kitchen, designer Shane Inman took the cabinetry all the way to the ceiling to maximize storage space. Even the ends of the cabinet runs are utilized for shelving and a small desk.
Island. A working kitchen island may include appliances and cabinetry for storage—and it always adds additional work surface to a kitchen. It can provide a place to eat (with stools), to prepare food (with a sink) and to store beverages (with a wine cooler). The island can turn a one-wall kitchen into a galley style, and an L-shaped layout into a horseshoe.
Kitchen islands are incredibly functional, but the No. 1 misperception about islands is that everyone ought to have one. The reality is, many kitchens simply don’t have enough clearance to include this feature. Download a sample floorplan.
Kitchen islands are popular. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 80 percent of home buyers consider an island desirable or essential. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Consider your space to make sure you have enough clearance on all sides of the island. Design by Gregory Augustine.
Peninsula. A peninsula kitchen is basically a connected island, converting an L-shaped layout into a horseshoe, or turning a horseshoe kitchen into a G-shaped design. Peninsulas function much like islands but offer more clearance in kitchens that do not allow appropriate square footage for a true island. Download a sample floorplan.
A Blend of Materials
In this layout, the peninsula converts an L-shaped kitchen into a G-shaped design, adding more space to prepare food and entertain family and guests. The design also serves an aesthetic purpose. The organically shaped butcher block bar works well with the tumbled slate backsplash, giving this kitchen a modern country feel. Design by Judith Balis.
This peninsula functions as a room divider and additional work space. The original layout had peninsula cabinets suspended from the ceiling, which were replaced with decorative lights to create a more open layout. Design by Mary Broerman. Photo by Greg Epstein.
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