6 Kitchen Layout Ideas, Fit for Homes of Any Size

by Lee Wallender

From L-shaped or galley to an island kitchen, use these ideas to choose which kitchen layout is best for your home 

white galley kitchen with gold drawer pulls

Kitchens are tight spaces, so, it helps to thoroughly plan every square foot before starting a remodel. Kitchens also are complex spaces where many elements must meet code. Supply and drain pipes compete with wires, ducts, and cabinets. The kitchen is not the place for last-minute, informal planning. Where should you start when considering different designs and ideas for kitchen layouts? 

Simply: homeowners should consider using the most common layouts found in kitchens. There are many benefits of starting with a tried-and-true layout in your kitchen: smooth traffic flow, and less wasted space. Additionally, kitchen functionalities—sink, stove, fridge, and dishwasher—will end up in sensible places. Ultimately, this saves money for routing plumbing and electrical work (expensive!) Below you’ll find renovations by Sweeten homeowners with kitchen layout inspiration.

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L-shaped kitchen layout

white L-shaped kitchen with black and white floor tile(Above) Sweeten homeowner Amanda’s renovation

An L-shaped kitchen layout has two counters laid at a 90-degree angle to each other. Often, one counter is longer than the other counter.

The L-shaped kitchen layout usually divides the kitchen activities across the two legs of the L-shape. One leg may have the refrigerator, sink, and dishwasher. The other leg may have the stove or cooktop, plus a majority of the counter space for prep work.

There are many reasons that an L-shaped kitchen layout is a good idea for your home. For one, L-shaped kitchens are flexible enough to fit in kitchens of different sizes. For another, this layout lends itself perfectly to the concept of the kitchen triangle. With this, the sink, stove, and fridge are arranged in a triangle for better workflow.

PROS

  • Flexible, works for many kitchens
  • Good use of the kitchen triangle

CONS

  • Large kitchens can get too spread out
  • Difficult to find space for counter eating

U-shaped kitchen layout

U-shaped kitchen layout with peninsula and blue cabinets(Above) Sweeten homeowners Tracey + Brian’s renovation

A U-shaped kitchen layout expands the L-shaped layout by adding an extra wing. Instead of two counters, the U-shaped kitchen has three counters arranged like a U.

With the U-shaped kitchen, various functions can be better spaced out than with the L-shaped layout. So, the leg of the L-shape that has the fridge, sink, and dishwasher can be broken up. The U-shaped kitchen’s third leg might contain the fridge.

For a U-shaped kitchen, you’ll need to have enough floor space available, but not too much. If the space is too small, the kitchen is cramped. If it’s too large, it takes longer to walk from one area to another. The National Kitchen + Bath Association recommends that no leg of the work triangle be less than 4 feet or more than 9 feet.

PROS

  • Utilizes the third wall
  • Spreads out kitchen services

CONS

  • Difficulty correctly sizing the kitchen
  • Center must be kept free of obstacles

One-wall kitchen layout

single wall kitchen white white cabinets and wood floors(Above) Sweeten homeowner Sarah’s renovation project

With the one-wall kitchen layout, all of the kitchen tasks are combined in a single counter against one wall.

Since they are all are in a line, design is mainly a matter of deciding the order of the functionalities. Usually, the sink and dishwasher are next to each other to share the water supply and drain lines.

Of the 6 kitchen layout ideas, the U-shape works perfectly for smaller homes such as condos or apartments. However, you’ll want to keep the layout fairly short. This avoids too much movement from one end to the other end.

PROS

  • Squeezes kitchen into tiny space
  • Keeps plumbing and electrical in one area

CONS

  • Too much walking if the layout is long
  • Little counter space

Galley kitchen layout

white galley kitchen with gold drawer pulls(Above) Sweeten homeowners Sheilaja + Sergio’s renovation

Galley kitchens have two counters that run parallel to each other. The counters are divided by a single aisle. Galley kitchens’ namesake is the kitchen found on boats. True to the inspiration, the aisle is usually narrow.

With galley kitchens, often one leg is devoted to the stove or cooktop and counter space. The other leg is usually the home’s exterior wall and has the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator.

Galley kitchens do a great job of confining the workflow to a tight space. Just make sure that the cabinet, fridge, dishwasher, and oven doors don’t conflict with each other.

PROS

  • Tucks kitchen away, off to the side
  • Short traffic pattern

CONS

  • Poor layout for multiple people in the kitchen
  • Doors may conflict or open into each other

Island kitchen layout

island kitchen with blue cabinets and white countertop(Above) Sweeten homeowners Tina + Fletcher’s renovation

An island kitchen layout combines a kitchen island with other layouts. These may be an L-shaped, U-shaped, or one-wall kitchen layout. The kitchen island is separate from the main counter area.

Many kitchen islands are counters only, with no water or cooking action. If a service is added to the island, it’s usually a cooktop. Large island kitchens may have a cooktop and a second sink for prep work.

Kitchen islands may be used less frequently than the owner had originally imagined. So, it helps to add one of those services as a magnet. Or, some homeowners extend one end of the island for use as an eating bar.

PROS

  • Additional counter space
  • Less expensive (you can even use a mobile island)

CONS

  • Difficult to bring water supply and drainage to an island
  • Takes up a lot of space, so a large kitchen is required

Peninsula kitchen layout

peninsula kitchen layout with see-through kitchen cabinets(Above) Sweeten homeowners Dalal + Frans’ renovation

A peninsula kitchen layout is a U-shaped layout that has a counter extension. Located at either end of the U shape, the extension partially juts into the kitchen. The result is generally a G-shape.

This kitchen usually retains its activities in its U-shaped section. The extension then becomes a breakfast bar or eating counter. 

The outer part of the extension can take two or three chairs for eating. The inner (kitchen side) is less functional. Most of it becomes a blind-corner cabinet that’s difficult for storing items. One solution is to install a lazy-susan, swing-out, or pull-out in that corner.

PROS

  • Utilizes the end of a run of cabinets
  • Room for eating saves on the need for chairs and table

CONS

  • Creates another blind-corner cabinet
  • Short counter

No matter the size of your home, there’s a kitchen layout that’ll fit the space. Keep in mind the kitchen activities that are important to your lifestyle, plot the best layout and flow, and get ready for your dream cook space.

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Want to see these kitchen layout ideas in action? See an L-shaped Brooklyn Heights kitchen, a galley kitchen in Forest Hills, a one-wall kitchen in LIC.

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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