Author Chigwell Building & Joinery
When installing a brand new kitchen, the layout is by far the most important design aspect before you even choose a single cabinet style, colour or finish. How that overall shape and plan lies will determine a whole range of factors such as usability, convenience, space and aesthetic appeal.
Nowadays, there’s all sorts of trends or unique designs features that have grown in popularity however, in many circumstances, these choices are not always practical. The shape and scale of your kitchen will ultimately determine which type of design you can realistically aim towards and how to successfully achieve it.
Let’s take a look at the most common kitchen layouts and then you can decide which will work best in your kitchen based on the dimensions and shape of your existing space.
Typically found in smaller homes with narrows rooms, the single walled kitchen is actually growing in popularity in larger homes too as it keeps all the appliances, workspaces and stored items within easy reach. No matter the size of the room, this layout instantly creates a very open concept and creates useable space for other essentials such as dining tables or even a portable island or preparation console table.
The single walled kitchen does have its pitfalls however. Naturally, every kitchen needs to find a home for the oven, cooktop, sink and refrigerator. With all four of these must-haves sat along one wall, it does become quickly apparent that countertop space will be limited. So if a single walled kitchen is your only option, you may have to opt for an integrated range cooker instead and even a smaller refrigerator to allow for more storage and worktop space.
Much like the single-walled kitchen, the galley also lends itself to the narrower, smaller spaced kitchen where walkways are tight and the dimensions are squeezed.
What the gallery has over the single wall of course is the opportunity to create separation of work areas such as food preparation and cleaning and far more countertop space. The downside is galleys can feel quite claustrophobic if the walkways between to the two sides are tight so having more than one or two people preparing and cooking meals in a galley is never a comfortable place to be.
If you’re quite cheffy though, galley kitchens are great as it means everything you need is within arms reach so preparing and cooking food is always a pleasure. It is most certainly a layout designed to please one primary cook in the house but avoid if you like to work in teams.
Like the single-walled or galley, U-shaped kitchen layouts are ideally suited to a single cook who likes to have everything at arms length.
What is great about a U-shaped kitchen is there’s no walkway to encourage people to pass through the area so the chef in the house will not have passers by interfering in the workspace and they can just get on and do their thing. The downside is the obvious lack of space for anything else so you can forget about including any tables, chairs or islands in the kitchen.
U-shaped kitchens are also poorly designed for those who like to entertain. In most cases, the person cooking will have their back to the room so it can feel quite enclosed and unwelcoming to guests. If the room is also small, a U-shape can quickly start to dominate the space and make the room feel incredibly tight.
The G-Shaped kitchen is essentially an upgrade of the U-shape with an added peninsula island to add practicality and extra workspace.
If room allows, this added little bonus can really make the difference to a U-shaped kitchen as it creates an island that can be somewhere to entertain, eat meals and prepare food. What you must avoid of course is making it into a nuisance object that gets in the way of accessing the kitchen easily so there’s a balance to strike - too large and it will block the entrance to the kitchen. Too small and it won’t be big or practical enough to use for eating or cooking.
The classic corner kitchen is mostly found in apartments or kitchens that lack a room long enough to house a single walled kitchen.
With more and more people living in apartments, the corner L-shaped kitchen is becoming far more commonplace as it is the sole kitchen design layout that encroaches on the least amount of space. With all the units tucked into the corners, it feels openly inviting but much like the U-shaped kitchen, entertaining is not ideal when the cook has their back to the guests.
What it does allow however is for the addition of a small table and chair for dining or if budgets and space allows, an island which will take it to a whole new level.
Take a look online for photos of kitchens with islands and the likelihood is you’ll find plenty of L-shaped kitchens with islands, and it’s no great surprise.
This simple design configuration fits comfortably into most room dimensions and ticks all the right boxes. Firstly, it creates distinct zones to the kitchen meaning one wall is for cooking, one for cleaning and the island is for serving up food and entertaining. For the chef in the house, there’s easy reach to get all the necessary items from cupboards and larders, so cooking is a pleasure. And in terms of space, it doesn’t take up huge amounts yet makes the entire kitchen area feel roomy and sophisticated.
As a bonus, the island gives the homeowner the choice of installing the cooktop of the sink here if desired; otherwise they can just keep the worktop and use it for preparing meals, eating and hanging out with friends.
If room allows, the wrap-around kitchen with island is like having the best of all worlds. The main kitchen area will feel like a halfway house between an open-plan single-walled kitchen and a U-shape without the closeness, meaning everything is within easy reach. With the added bonus of the island, you have the perfect addition for preparing food, dining, entertaining and cleaning up.
This design most certainly encourages interaction so entertaining and hosting dinner parties will be a pleasure, making your kitchen the main hub of the home. With it’s slightly unusual shape, it also prevents the kitchen from feeling boxy and will make the space seem more quirky and unique.
The only downside is room - you’ll need lots of it if you plan to install a kitchen of this configuration. But if you do, it could be the best kitchen design decision you ever make!