Classic Kitchen

What are the Best Types of Kitchen Layouts?

Cooking is all about blending efficiency with fun, and that starts in the kitchen.  Kitchen layouts are much the same way, balancing fun and functionality.  Maybe you want as much space as possible, or maybe you live in a small Bay Area apartment and need to use space efficiently.  Either way, there is an effective kitchen layout that best fits your kitchen space and how it works in your home.

Most professionals agree that there are six major types of kitchen layouts. Some of these layouts include additional space, like the island kitchen layout, while others are focused on the natural shape, like an L-shaped kitchen. None of these are “better” than the others, although there’s one that fits the homeowners’ needs.

If you’re interested in potentially remodeling the kitchen in your home, stick around. We’ll go over some of the best kitchen layouts, and there’s no doubt one of these will fit in your existing space. Choosing the right kitchen layout can help you maximize the space you have and use the space efficiently. Just keep reading to find out how to make a new kitchen layout work for you.


The Best Types of Kitchen Layouts

The way your kitchen is laid out affects a lot more than just the appearance, though that is important.  It affects how many dishes you can cook at once and whether you can cook while entertaining guests, among other things.  Long story short, you should pay close attention to how your kitchen is laid out.

There are six kitchen layouts that work best in most homes. Here are those layouts:

  • Island kitchen layout
  • Galley kitchen layout
  • L-shaped kitchen layout
  • U-shaped kitchen layout
  • G-shaped kitchen layout
  • Linear kitchen layout

When choosing the layout you want to use for your kitchen, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each type of kitchen layout before you decide. We’ve compiled a list to help you compare and contrast each type of layout and ultimately make the right decision for you and your family.


Island Kitchen Layout

While many different layouts can contain an island, the island layout takes it a step further by including the stove on the island instead of the counter.  This is to free up as much counter space as possible for storage, prep, and even entertaining guests.

Island Kitchen

Allows for Extra Prep Space

Island stove tops are great for the chef who needs a lot of prep area.  Whether you’re cooking a huge meal, making dessert at the same time as you’re making dinner, or you want enough room for the whole family to pitch in, an island stovetop might be the answer for you!

Since you’ll be facing the center of the room while cooking, instead of facing the wall like a countertop stove, stovetop islands are great for cooking while entertaining guests.  Many people like to have stools around the island to chat with friends while you make dinner.

Island Placement is Key

You need a large kitchen island to put a stovetop on it, and this requires a large kitchen.  You should be *very* careful about installing an island that is too big for your kitchen, as not only does it look hideous, it makes the entire kitchen feel cramped to work in.  Islands are supposed to give you more room, not less!

Additionally, while island kitchens can feel great to cook in for some people, others feel like they’re running around a lot.

An island stove is usually much farther from your prep area, so if you forget to chop garlic before putting in the other veggies, you can find yourself frantically running back and forth between your countertop prep space and your island stove.  The good news is if you don’t like it, you can always have a small stove installed on the counter too!

Island stoves are also pretty challenging to install.  You have to run the gas line through the floor instead of through the walls.  This can get complicated if your home’s foundation is something like concrete.  Putting in a gas line in these circumstances can quickly become time consuming and expensive.

Installing an exhaust fan is equally complicated.  If you have the money, you can install it hanging from the ceiling over the island, but if you don’t, you may have to settle for a vent on the floor.  This is a lot less effective at dealing with smoke.

Room for Two?

Finally, if you want to go big, some kitchens even use two islands!  It goes without saying that if you’re trying to do this, you had better be equipped with massive floor space, a generous budget, and a lot of patience.

However, the result will be a truly stunning kitchen, capable of handling several cooks at a time!  Unless you regularly host massive cookouts, this is probably unnecessary, but for those of you with a large extended family, it’s worth looking into.

Overall, the island kitchen layout does best when you have time, money, and floor space to make it work.  If you do, this may be your best option, as it provides convenient counter space and a fun centerpiece for your next dinner party.


Galley Kitchen Layout

If you’re a fan of maritime history, you probably know that the galley kitchen is named for a small boat.  This should probably give you some clues as to how much space the galley kitchen offers.  Extremely compact, the galley layout is an extremely efficient use of space but will probably make you feel pretty cramped.

Galley Kitchen

Great for Small Spaces

The galley kitchen layout is narrow and linear, placing two counters perpendicular to each other with everything you need on them.  The counters are typically very close together, leaving little room for floor space.

Like the ship it’s named for, the galley kitchen is designed to occupy a small, narrow piece of floor space in your home. It’s extremely effective at using space efficiently, but the small floorspace makes entertaining guests impossible.

It is also not recommended if you play to have more than one person cooking at a time, as they will have no room to get around each other.

Maximizes Counterspace

However, one way the galley kitchen layout doesn’t make you feel cramped is in counter space.  This layout is designed to maximize counter space, and it does the job well.  With two countertops, it provides the biggest work surface while occupying the smallest possible floor space.  This is a huge plus, considering a kitchen island is definitely out of the question.

This layout is also nice for people who hate running around too much.  Everything is so close together. You’ll usually be able to minimize how far you have to walk to use different appliances.  You can designate the counter across from the stove as prep space, so all you have to do to start cooking is turn around!

Finally, when installing a galley kitchen, you should consider how it affects how easy it is to get around your house.  If it’s centrally located, you might make it harder to get around.

For example, if you have to walk through it to get to a stairway or the front door, and somebody is cooking, you might end up getting in the way by trying to pass through!  Fortunately, the galley kitchen’s compact size lets it fit snugly out of the way against a wall.

Easy to Install

The galley kitchen is relatively easy to install, economical with floor space and keeps everything you need in arm’s reach. It’s a great choice if you don’t have much room or if you want a separate dining room to entertain guests.  Plus, if you like to focus on your cooking, it’s a great excuse to keep guests out of your hair!


L Shaped Kitchen Layout

The L shaped kitchen layout is by far the most economical with floor space.  Easily fit into the corner of your home, it’s perfect for a kitchen you want to be out of the way.  However, it is also incredibly versatile, as with enough space, you can add an island.

l-shaped kitchen

Maximizes Available Space for an Open Feel

The L shaped layout, when used to save space, is the opposite of the galley kitchen layout.  In other words, it has minimal counter space but more floor space.  This results in a much more open feel and makes it possible for guests to loiter a bit without getting in the way.

While everything is fairly close together, you may end up running around a bit if you are using appliances at the ends of the L.  However, while it is not as good as the galley layout at reducing travel time, the L shaped layout usually isn’t too bad for this.

What makes an L shaped kitchen exciting is how versatile it is.  The L shape is suitable for both small areas as a way to use space economically and for larger ones as well.

A Very Versatile Layout

I mentioned adding an island earlier, which isn’t a bad idea, but you can also include a dedicated dining table if you want to entertain guests.  You can also keep it minimalist and leave the floor space empty, giving the kitchen an open, spacious feel.

Finally, the L shape layout’s ability to fit into the corners of your home lets you put it out of the way of any foot traffic. There’s nothing worse than guests walking through the kitchen to get to other parts of your house while you’re trying to cook, and a well placed L shape kitchen can make sure they can bypass it entirely.

Overall, the L shaped kitchen offers some well-rounded advantages.  Other than the general lack of counter space, it offers few real drawbacks.  If you’re not entirely sure about which layout to use, it’s hard to go wrong with an L shape.


U Shaped Kitchen Layout

The U shaped kitchen layout is a lot like an L shape, but with an extra section of counters.  It requires a bit more room and doesn’t fit into corners as well, but it provides a ton of advantages.

U shaped kitchen
Small home luxury kitchen

Best for Multiple Cooks in the Kitchen

The U shape layout is generally recommended if you expect to have more than one person cooking at once.  It has a huge amount of counter space, so you’ll have no problem finding enough prep space for two people.

Most importantly, unlike the galley layout, there is plenty of floor space in the middle to get to different appliances, so if things get busy, you won’t be climbing over your helper!

Not Ideal for Entertaining

However, the U shape is not great for entertaining guests in smaller kitchens.  Unlike the V shape, where the guests can stand behind you, the U shape would find them standing directly in the middle of the kitchen, which can get annoying.  If the room is big enough, this stops being a problem, but still is something to keep in mind in medium to small-sized kitchens.

This also makes things like islands and dining tables less desirable in smaller kitchens.  Just keep in mind anything that you have to walk around is going to make getting from point A to point B considerably more tedious than in other layouts.  That being said, if your kitchen is on the larger side, islands and dining tables fit this layout quite nicely!

Overall, the U shaped layout is ideal for large kitchens.  It easily makes the most of that space, providing lots of counter space for large family meals.  If you have enough room for an island or a table, you’ve taken a kitchen and turned it into the centerpiece of your home!


G Shaped Kitchen Layout

The G shaped kitchen layout is yet another extension of countertops added to the U shape.  It has a lot of similar benefits to the U shape, in that it provides a ton of counter space and lots of room in the middle, so you never feel cramped.  However, if you want an island, this layout is probably one you want to avoid.

gshaped kitchen

Plenty of Storage

The G shaped layout offers far the most storage, counter space, and floor space in one package than any other layout.  If you’re the sort of person who always feels cramped in the kitchen, this is the way to go.

However, since you’re surrounding the room with cabinets, you want to make sure you have enough floor space to avoid a claustrophobic feel.  If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, stick with a galley, v-shaped, or linear setup.

Since there is so much going on in a G shaped layout, it can also be difficult to fit among other rooms.  The numerous countertops can make it harder to fit in a corner like a V shape or a galley.

Having it centrally located in your home might work, but there are so many counters you don’t have many options for doors or entrances, which can make getting around your home more difficult.

A Peninsula Can Make More Room

An island is not recommended in this layout, not just because it’s difficult to make one fit, but also because it’s a bit redundant.  The ‘peninsula,’ or the extra extension of counter space that gives this layout its G shape, is often used the same way as an island.

Not only can it be used for extra prep space, if you don’t put a wall behind it, but it’s also great as a hang out for guests!  Since they’re technically sitting in another room, they can chat with the cook while safely out of his or her way.

Works Best in Big Spaces

Overall, the G shaped layout is generally reserved for the largest kitchens.  If you’re the sort of person who regularly prepares massive feasts for your friends and family, with several side dishes or even multiple entrees being prepped at once, this layout will make you feel a lot more organized.


Linear Kitchen Layout

Last but not least, we have the simplest layout on the list.  As the name implies, a linear layout is a kitchen where appliances and countertops are arranged in a straight line across one wall.  This layout’s simplicity is its greatest advantage, allowing it to fit almost anywhere in your home.

However, if your kitchen has a lot of floor space, this layout isn’t a great way to take full advantage of that.

linear kitchen

Lacking in Counterspace

Only having one wall of countertop is limiting.  Not only does this leave very little room for prep when appliances and stovetops are taken into account, but the linear layout can also make you do a lot of walking to get between workstations.

However, the linear layout is an excellent option if you want to combine your kitchen with another room.  Since the counters fit so snugly against one wall, in a large room, you can easily fit a large dining table or even a couch and a television to make a living room.

This also makes a linear layout a good candidate for adding an island.  The counter space is sorely needed, and unlike more enclosed layouts, the island won’t typically get in the way of your workflow on other counters.

Overall, an island combined with a linear kitchen gives you the benefits of a galley layout without the drawback of limited floor space.

Cozy for Entertaining and Cooking

Depending on what you do with it, a linear kitchen layout can be a small, cozy place to cook or a part of a larger room used for family dinners and entertaining guests.

I do have to say that while it is versatile, if you’re the sort of person who likes making large meals, you should steer clear.  Even with an island, counter space is extremely limited, and you won’t have enough space for multiple prep spaces.


Final Thoughts

Remodeling your kitchen is a big decision and not one to take lightly. Choosing a layout that works best in your space is a key part of the process. Any of the layouts described above would be a great starting place for your upcoming kitchen remodel.

Element Home Remodeling is a kitchen contractor located in Mountain View, California. We are highly rated online and serve The Bay Area. Contact us today for a free consultation on your next kitchen project.

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