Designing a small kitchen layout
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.