Kitchen layout ideas

Kitchen Design: What are the most popular kitchen layouts? (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Achieving the best kitchen layout


When designing a new kitchen it is essential to employ a kitchen layout that makes the best use of the available room space.  Whilst all homes differ, this usually means that the shape and size of a room will naturally influence the kitchen layout you opt for.  For example, if you have a small kitchen space it is inadvisable to install an island without ensuring there is sufficient space to navigate around it. 

small kitchen layout

Even in small kitchen spaces an island is possible, but it needs very careful planning for the layout to work.

Not leaving enough space would restrict your use of the kitchen and compromise safety.  Instead, the room’s limited dimensions may naturally dictate that an L Shape or Galley kitchen layout may be more appropriate for your home, allowing a better, more efficient use of space. Moreover, and particularly when space is limited, homeowners now want a multi-functional kitchen that they can use for cooking and eating but also for socialising, working, helping with homework, etc. 

Here we will look at the most popular types of kitchen layout, and how each benefits the user in getting the most return from their kitchen.


Defining Kitchen Zones in your kitchen layout 

As mentioned in Part 1, key for planning an effective kitchen layout is defining zones or separate kitchen areas in which to carry out different activities.  This can work in conjunction with a working triangle but this latter method of designing kitchens is quite outdated and old fashioned.  Instead, it is better to focus on separate, well-cited locations for washing up/cleaning, preparation and cooking but this can also be extended to separate areas for serving up food, dining or for children to play in at a safe but visible distance from the cooking area.   Zoning makes for an efficient and functional kitchen, but of course it also requires careful planning as the decided layout will also affect the look of your kitchen.

Kitchen layout zones for efficient kitchen use

A kitchen layout that includes different zones for carrying out separate activities makes for safe and efficient kitchen use. 

The Galley kitchen layout

The galley kitchen layout works for both large and small spaces but is often the best option (where possible) when space is limited.  Many professional chefs prefer this style of kitchen because it enables the best use of space, the most efficient use of the kitchen, as well as the safest arrangement when other people are present.

Two opposing runs of units allow you to locate appliances on both sides of the kitchen, whilst only a short distance apart. This aids the workflow by reducing the distance you need to travel between separate kitchen zones.  The sink and hob are usually located opposite each other but slightly staggered (for safety reasons), and this arrangement means you can easily switch your attention from one to the other with just the spin of a heel.   Whilst it offers many benefits, this kitchen layout cannot work if the kitchen is too small and leaves insufficient room for drawers on opposing sides to open simultaneously.   This creates a dangerous kitchen hazard.  Similarly, this layout is inadvisable if you have doors at both ends of the room as this risks too much possible traffic in a restricted space, which can easily become dangerous. 

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The Island kitchen layout

The island kitchen layout is one of the most sought after kitchen layouts, popular for its elegant appearance yet practical use.  Kitchen islands can provide additional storage, work surface and seating, or housing for appliances. Their multipurpose uses and functionality mean kitchen island designs can vary greatly, but generally, an island would sit opposite a single row of units containing sink, oven and fridge.  This arrangement somewhat replicates the successful layout of the galley kitchen so creates the same benefits. This layout also enables a clear island surface space to use for food preparation, and you can do this whilst facing outward into the kitchen.  It is a very social arrangement so ideal for families or for anyone who likes to entertain.  An induction hob is quite often located on the surface of the island and positioned here to facilitate cooking but also as its flat surface creates minimal interruption to the sleek look of the island (which is your kitchen centrepiece!) Induction hobs are also preferable to sinks within an island as sinks draw attention yet are not attractive to look at, especially if filled with dirty dishes! 

If choosing a kitchen island for an open plan arrangement they you should consider a style in keeping with the rest of your home’s décor to ensure continuity, or else contrast it completely.

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The L-shaped kitchen layout

An L Shaped kitchen works for larger kitchen spaces but also makes a great, and popular choice for small and medium sized kitchens.  An L Shaped kitchen, as its name suggests is composed of two adjoining kitchen runs.  One run is usually longer than the other but either or both runs can extend as far as the room dimensions will allow.  This is beneficial for storage space or for setting up a new kitchen activity zone, such as a breakfast bar at the far end.  The oven and fridge usually sit on one leg of the L-Shaped kitchen, with the sink on the other.  This is the most laboursaving arrangement and ensures the work-flow cannot be interrupted by other house members.   Further benefits of the L- Shaped kitchen are its great use of corner space for storage, but above all its trim arrangement will often allow enough space to add either a dining table or kitchen island.

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The U-shaped kitchen

The U shaped kitchen can work for small, medium and large kitchen spaces and in very large spaces can even contain a kitchen island in the centre.  The U- shaped kitchen is not too dissimilar from the L shaped kitchen, except with an additional wall surface for an extra run of units.

This kitchen layout benefits enthusiastic cooks as it provides an abundance of surface space for preparing meals, as well as storage space for your ingredients and other cooking essentials.   The U-shape allows easy movement between different work stations and two or more cooks can comfortably use the kitchen at the same time, whilst keeping other traffic out of the kitchen.  This kitchen layout can easily be separate into separate kitchen zones or work sites. For example, in an open plan arrangement, one of the furniture runs often includes a peninsula.  This provides a nice distinction between kitchen and living area but is also ideal for entertaining, letting guests or other house-members sit at the other side of the peninsula but continue to converse with whoever is cooking. 


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The G-shaped kitchen layout

This style is very similar to the U shaped kitchen and with the same benefits, but an additional forth wall converts the shape. This is only possible in a large enough area that the additional structure won’t make the kitchen feel enclosed.  As with the U-Shape kitchen, this layout often introduces a peninsula, allowing extra storage space as well as a seating area on the other side of the kitchen. The G-shaped layout enables flexibility within planning of the kitchen, including location of appliances.  It also allows free movement and access whilst cooking but it is worth noting, particularly for families or crowded houses that the entryway into the kitchen is restricted with this shape so traffic in and out can become quite busy.   This means you need to carefully locate cupboards, fridges and dishwashers to avoid any obstruction on opening that may become hazardous. 

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‘All in a row’ / I-Shaped or Single wall kitchen layout

This kitchen layout is not ideal but sometimes, and particularly for small kitchens it is the only feasible option for the space.   The shortcoming within this kitchen style is that all of your kitchen appliances and consumables are located within the same run so you have to travel from one end of the room to the other for access.  As a result, it isn’t very efficient or user-friendly, but the arrangement can be improved by locating your sink in the centre of the run, with fridge and oven on either side.  This is where most of your time is likely to be spent so work outwards from here in planning the remainder of your kitchen appliances.  You should also ensure your fridge is hinged to open outwards and away from the sink, otherwise the sink can obstruct you when trying to move food from the fridge onto your worktop.    This kitchen layout may be limited but plan it carefully, incorporating clever storage and space saving solutions, or even an island if space allows, and you can still achieve a functional and enjoyable kitchen.

For the best possible results within planning, including deciding what kitchen layout is most suitable, it is advisable to seek advice from a professional kitchen designer. 


Series Navigation<< Kitchen Design: How to plan an efficient kitchen layout (Part 1)


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