Considering your kitchen design
Before we dive into the different kitchen layouts, take time to assess the space available to you, and what you want from your new kitchen.
Size and shape
The dimensions of your kitchen will go at least part way to deciding your layout. For example, if your kitchen is particularly narrow or small, you’ll need to think more carefully about how to maximise your wall and floor space.
For an open plan space you may want to create a layout that naturally separates the kitchen from the living area, while unusual features like sloping ceilings or pillars will provide their own challenges.
You should also bear in mind the location of your kitchen windows and how work units can be arranged to let as much natural light in as possible.
The golden triangle
Also known as the ‘working triangle’, the golden triangle refers to the ideal placement of your three key kitchen appliances - the cooker, sink and fridge.
In an effective golden triangle, these components are positioned so they each have their own space while being close enough together to maximise convenience for you.
It isn’t a hard and fast rule; if it isn’t suitable for your kitchen, you’ll be able to find another approach that works for your needs. But it’s something to bear in mind when planning your layout.
The flow of the room is another important consideration, particularly if you intend for your kitchen to be a social area. Not only do you want clear access between all your cupboards and appliances, you’ll also need to ensure children and guests can easily move around the kitchen without getting in the way.
Think about how you can position commonly used components at the edges of the kitchen so people can reach them without properly entering, and how you can use units or decor to differentiate between zones.
Choosing your layout
Once you’ve got a handle on what you want from your kitchen layout, let’s take a look at the typical layouts and which would work best for your space.
A galley kitchen echoes the layout of a kitchen usually found on a ship; two units running parallel to each other with a walkway in the middle. This layout is most regularly found in a long, narrow kitchen space; if space is particularly tight there may even just be one row of units.
This layout lends itself so well to narrow kitchens as it makes the most of the wall space available while maintaining a clear walkway through the middle. You’ll find there’s plenty of storage, and the golden triangle is simple to incorporate.
As the galley design is open at both ends it allows for multiple doorways, either to connect two rooms or lead out to a garden.
A galley kitchen can also work well in an open plan living space. Keep one straight unit on the back wall, and swap out the other for a long island that can double up as both a food prep area and a breakfast bar.
Long, narrow kitchens can feel dark and pokey if not designed correctly, so to maximise natural light, stick to light colour palettes and try to limit your amount of top cupboards; this will make the space feel more open.
A U-shaped kitchen is probably the most common shape, consisting of 3 units at right angles to each other that hug the kitchen walls.
This layout is ideal for a convenient golden triangle. In most kitchens of this shape, the sink sits under the window in the bottom of the ‘U’, with the fridge and cooker on opposing units.
A U-shaped kitchen offers extra storage opportunities due to the hidden depth of the two corner cupboards. While not the most easily reachable, the corner cabinets are the go-to place to store items that you don’t use on a regular basis.
As with a galley layout, if you have a narrow kitchen it’s best to avoid top cabinets as much as you can. If you still need the storage space, consider open shelving stacked with well-organised mason jars or baskets, or hanging racks for cooking utensils.
If you want a playful statement wall, a U-shaped kitchen is the perfect layout. Use the base of the ‘U’ to add a bright colour or pattern, which should be nicely broken up by the window in the middle.
An L-shaped kitchen is advisable for a small kitchen design layout. With just two units tucked neatly into a corner, L-shaped kitchens are often found in open plan layouts in order to make the most of the space available.
Because one side is left open, an L-shape naturally maintains a spacious feel, allowing you the option of having both top and bottom cabinets on your other two walls. You also maintain one corner cabinet for hiding away bulky appliances.
The L-shaped arrangement is also perfect for a kitchen layout with an island, if space allows. A kitchen island will break up empty floor space in a large kitchen or provide a barrier between the kitchen and living areas in an open-plan space.
A dining table will have a similar effect, but a kitchen island has the added benefits of extra work and storage space. On a large island, use one side as an extra food prep counter and the other as a breakfast bar, keeping a social element to your kitchen.
A G-shaped kitchen is a slightly lesser-known layout, that is essentially a U-shaped kitchen but with an extra counter added, so that you have worktops on all four sides of your kitchen.
The G-shaped layout is ideal for those who need to maximise their unit potential for both storage and worktop space. In small kitchen designs the G-shape approach has the edge over islands, as a fourth counter can be added easily without demanding the same amount of a space that an island requires.
G-shaped kitchens also work well in open plan kitchen layouts, as the fourth counter can act as a natural barrier between your kitchen and living area. It’s common to add a breakfast bar on the external side of the fourth counter, which provides a fun dining space and gives the kitchen a more sociable feel.