5 Amazing Galley Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

A galley kitchen is designed for maximum functionality in a small space. Galley kitchens usually follow a common design with two parallel walls about three to four feet apart. The sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator are on one wall, leaving the cooktop, ovens, and other cooking appliances on the opposite wall.

The galley kitchen allows for cooking with a minimum number of footsteps between the sink, refrigerator, and cooktop. This is the most efficient kitchen design. However, it can seem cramped at times, especially with multiple helpers in the kitchen. Here are five ways to maximize the storage space, workflow, and visual interest in a galley kitchen.

Contemporary wooden kitchen
Luxury wooden kitchen interior with white stone top

Add Linear Lighting

Whether the galley kitchen is large or small, it is designed with long lines of cabinetry and countertop. The kitchen is always longer than it is wide. All remodeling should be seen as an opportunity to elongate those lines even further and make the space seem bigger.

Lighting is essential to every kitchen. More lights are always better. Dimmer switches can be added to help set the mood in the kitchen and the rest of the home. They can be turned on bright for cooking, and dimmed for gathering around the peninsula. Use dimmable LED bulbs for maximum energy efficiency and beautiful, clean light.

  • Install recessed lighting in one or two rows down the length of the kitchen. This is an immense improvement over a single fluorescent or flush-mount light fixture. Two rows of lights will make the space seem even wider
  • Install strip lighting under the cabinets. Strip lighting increases the brightness, elongates the appearance of cabinetry, and turns up the style in the kitchen. This simple addition can bring an old kitchen into the new century
  • There are cabinet strip lighting options available for every budget. A contractor can install high-end lights that are wired into the kitchen electrical circuit. A homeowner can install LED strips that are held to the underside of the cabinet with double-sided tape
  • Add additional lighting over a peninsula. Choose pendant lights to divide the kitchen space from other spaces. Choose a row of recessed lighting to brighten up the space while keeping it joined with the adjacent space

Consider incorporating any of these lighting ideas into a galley kitchen. The space will seem larger, more modern, and be much easier to work in. The key to remember when thinking about galley kitchen lighting is that more is better. A dark kitchen is a small kitchen. Lighting makes the space more inviting, seems larger, and welcomes more time in this utilitarian space.

bright galley kitchen

Add Storage Space

A galley kitchen is not a space that is easily remodeled. Often both of the kitchen walls are load-bearing walls with gas pipes, water pipes, and electrical wiring that can not be moved. This means that homeowners can not easily tear out a galley kitchen to open up the space in the home.

When it comes to storage space, unless the galley kitchen is long, homeowners have to keep small kitchen appliances to a minimum to fit in the space and think twice about every new gadget they bring home for the kitchen. Here are several ideas for increasing storage space and updating the kitchen.

  • Utilize vertical wall space. This option can make the kitchen feel cluttered fast, so choose wisely and keep the area clean. However, wall-mounted hooks and small shelves can keep nice-looking cookbooks, utensils, aprons, and even dishes within arm’s reach and free up valuable cabinet space.
  • Utilize open shelving. This is a modern way to design a galley kitchen, though it will break up the long lines somewhat. Open shelving breaks up a solid bank of cabinetry and displays dishes or books that are stored in the shelving. Choose open shelving that matches the cabinets to keep continuity.
  • Put small appliances inside cabinetry. If there is a cabinet that can be dedicated to small appliances such as a coffee maker, toaster, or microwave, that frees up counter space and makes the space look more sleek and minimalistic. Have an electrician install outlets inside the cabinet so appliances can be used inside.
  • Clear off the countertops. Everything that sits on a countertop breaks up the space. This is not bad, but it should be used wisely. Clutter makes the kitchen look smaller. Instead, opt for one or two pieces of aesthetic décor that compliment the space and store everything else out of sight.
  • Pull-out cutting boards and workspaces. A homeowner that is having new cabinets installed should consider purchasing cabinets with pull-out cutting boards and workspaces. These can be designed into the cabinets and increase the working space in the kitchen.

Here are a couple ideas for you can add to your galley kitchen as well:

  • Add a peninsula. Many galley kitchens are open to the dining room. If space allows, a peninsula can be installed at the end of the kitchen, dividing it from the dining room. This adds a sizeable amount of storage space. A peninsula often features a raised eating area on one side, which makes the kitchen more friendly.
  • Build a pantry. Some galley kitchens do not have pantry rooms included. This makes the homeowner store food in kitchen cabinetry. Building a pantry room off of the kitchen will free up a lot of kitchen space for more storage, and allows the homeowner to implement more storage ideas inside the kitchen.

The addition of a peninsula or a pantry can increase the storage capacity of your kitchen and free up more space. You might be unable to consider either of these options if you do not have enough space in your galley kitchen.

Implement Long Lines in the Cabinetry

Whether the galley kitchen is getting new cabinetry, new cabinet doors, new countertops, or new flooring, long lines are the key to maximizing the visual appeal of the space. Cabinets and countertops make the most amount of visual impact in the space, so these are key to maximizing the visual lines in the galley kitchen.

Cabinetry can be spruced up and repurposed by installing new cabinet doors. This is a wonderful option for homeowners on a smaller budget.

Some homeowners may choose to refinish cabinet doors themselves by taking off decorative finish molding, stripping, sanding, and re-staining, or repainting the existing cabinet doors and then reinstalling them with new hardware. This is an inexpensive way to update the room.

For homeowners who do not have the time or skills to refinish cabinetry, new cabinets might be in the budget. Whether they are being refinished or new ones are being installed, focus on installing cabinetry that keeps the flow going in a line.

Choose flat-faced cabinets with minimal space in between doors. This sleek design elongates the room and puts the spotlight on efficiency. Choose cabinet handles that are long and thin, rather than small round pulls. This type of design will make a modern vibe in the room. It can be broken up with open cabinetry, and will still look nice, but this will shrink the room back down a little.

For those who want to make a galley kitchen have a country or shabby chic vibe, they may choose more decorative finishes. This is a nice design choice, but the decorative finishes will draw the space in and make it seem smaller. Cabinet doors with vertical molding or round pulls will break up the linear space. This design makes the kitchen look more warm and inviting, but less efficient and spacious.


Appliances That Blend

Flush-mount appliances such as dishwashers and ovens can blend with the cabinets and keep the long lines going. For those with a larger budget, appliances can be hidden inside cabinets with cabinet fronts that match the cabinets. Flat-front appliances also look sleek and can be mounted with fronts flush to the surrounding cabinets.

Cooktops blend better with long cabinets and countertops than single-unit stoves and ovens do. A design that incorporates a cooktop in one space with ovens that are flush-mounted in the cabinetry elsewhere will maximize visual space in the kitchen.

modern galley kitchen and storage space

Implement Long Lines on the Floor

As with the cabinetry, focus on long lines on the flooring. The space can not be made wider. Homeowners who attempt to make the space look wider by placing square tiles or horizontal flooring in the space end up drawing the width inward on itself. The key to maximizing the aesthetic of a galley kitchen is to draw the eyes along its best asset, which is the length of the room.

Choose flooring that can run the length of the room. This can be long tiles, wood flooring, bamboo flooring, or linoleum that has a pattern that runs the length of the floor. Square tiles can be installed, but they should be installed on a diagonal so that the squares are pointing down the room, toward the long ends.

Rugs are a great way to elongate a room where the flooring is not optimal and can not be redone. Choose a long, narrow rug and run it down the middle of the room. One with horizontal stripes is best, but any long rug will serve to disrupt a horizontal floor pattern.

Color blending the flooring with cabinets, countertops, paint, and backsplashes is the key to maximizing the overall appearance of a galley kitchen. Complimentary colors will make the flooring stand out more but draw the length back in a little, shrinking the appearance of the room.

galley kitchen with granite countertop

Use Color Continuity

Choose any colors for a galley kitchen. They can be fun and festive in green and orange, they can be hot and heavy in red and black. Minimalist colors are neutral greys or a fresh off-white. No matter what colors are chosen, they should run the length of the kitchen. Fresh paint is the fastest, most inexpensive way to remodel a galley kitchen.

When repainting cabinets, take the time to remove cabinet doors and strip old finishes off the cabinets and doors before repainting. This prep will ensure that paint does not nick and peel right away. Install all new hardware when reassembling the cabinets for the longest life and freshest look.

  • The cabinets should be a solid color for the length of the kitchen. It does not matter if they are natural wood, glossy, or painted. Ideally, the color will blend well with the countertop for a more unified appearance.
  • Glossy cabinets are the most modern finish for cabinetry and they will reflect the lights giving them a space-age vibe. This can be overwhelming if the lights are bouncing off of everything in the galley kitchen.
  • Backsplashes need to be color-coordinated and monochromatic. Choose larger tiles that are positioned to run lengthwise on the wall rather than running up the wall, breaking up the linear aesthetic. If a backsplash can be run along all the walls over the counters instead of just the sink, that is even better.
  • Length is maximized when the cabinetry, countertops, and walls have colors that blend. Choose a monochrome palette to maximize kitchen length and the appearance of efficiency. The galley kitchen is designed around efficiency, so this aesthetic blends best with this design.
  • Complimentary colors are fun, and while they do not maximize the appearance of length, they can make a galley kitchen feel more fun, energizing, and inviting. This is a great design choice for those who plan to install a peninsula and have friends and family sitting at the countertop during meal prep times.

This prep will ensure your cabinets have a sleek and clean look when remodeling. Another thing to keep in mind is that the walls should be painted a single color without decorations to break up the space.


About Element Home Remodeling

Element Home Remodeling is a home remodeling contractor based in Mountain View, California.  We specialize in bright and modern kitchen designs and can work with any size, budget and layout. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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