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How you plan a scheme can make the difference between a super-efficient space and a kitchen calamity. Find out which arrangement works best for you with our easy guide.

Galley - for small spaces

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: deVOL Kitchens (01509 261 000; devolkitchens.co.uk)


Consisting of units along one wall to form a single galley or the wall facing to make a double galley, this layout is perfect for long, narrow kitchens and smaller rooms. It’s an efficient use of space, with usually only a few steps between each element of the working triangle. Galley designs often suffer from a lack of storage, but too many wall cupboards can make the room feel cluttered. Instead, opt for tall units at the end of runs and try staggering the depths or heights of your cabinets to avoid the corridor effect.

Workspace may be limited, so investigate ways of maximising it – sink covers and flush-fitted induction hobs that can double as surfaces will help. While not always suitable for multiple cooks, a galley can usually be divided into zones, and there’s a good amount of flexibility in the length of the kitchen, so it adapts well to suit different homes. For a sleek look when not in use, consider concealing some of the kitchen units behind sliding doors.

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: NBB Design (020 7349 7099; nbbdesign.com)


‘When planning a galley space, consider where you’d like your appliances and sink – you may want to have your electrial items on one side and your wet zone on the other,’ advises DougHaswell, furniture manager at Caple (0117 938 1900; caple.co.uk). ‘Remember to keep to the basics, such as base and wall cabinets, a fridge freezer, sink, oven and dishwasher.’


L-shaped – for flexibility

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: Rational (01543 459 459; rational.de/en)


Ideal for small and medium-sized kitchens, this layout usually uses two runs of cabinetry that meet at a corner, creating workspace against two walls, but an L can also be formed with a peninsula unit and one wall. Generally, the cooking and sink areas should be perpendicular to each other, creating a practical, elongated working triangle. In a large space, the layout can easily be adapted for dining with a table, peninsula unit at one end or an island. These elements also help if you don’t always want to be cooking or chatting while facing a wall.

Supersized L-shaped kitchens can suffer from a lack of efficiency if the main elements of the triangle are too far away from each other, so be sure to keep the cooking, sink and cooling zones reasonably close together. Conversely, be sure to allow enough workspace between each zone.

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: Granit Architects (020 7924 4555; granit.co.uk)


On the plus side, L shapes allow flexibility in the length of the kitchen, such as creating a long run of worktop along one axis, are straightforward to zone, and you’re unlikely to have through traffic when you are busy cooking. ‘An L-shaped design works brilliantly within open-plan layouts,’ explains Louise Richardson,kitchen designer at Halcyon Interiors (020 7486 3080; halcyoninteriors.com). ‘It’s especially good for the corner of a room where you don’t want the kitchen to be the main focal point.’


U-shaped – for wide rooms

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: DesignSpace London (020 7228 8088; designspacelondon.com)


This type of layout maximises storage, with units covering up to three walls to create a balanced working triangle. This means you’ll beneit from lots of workspace and it’s easy to segregate into tasks. However, it creates two corners, so to prevent dead space, think about dedicated internal storage, such as carousels, magic corners or Le Mans, which swing outwards.

If the room is big, consider adding an island as a midway point to help workflow. In a compact space, be aware that a U-shape can restrict the number of people cooking at the same time or where you position appliances with drop-down doors, such as dishwashers. ‘U-shaped kitchens put you at the centre of the action, with a lovely wraparound feel,’ says Graeme Smith, senior designer at 1909 (01325 505 539; 1909kitchens.co.uk). ‘They create a divide between the different areas, but still keep them visually and socially connected.’


Islands – for entertaining

If you have a medium or large kitchen, plan your layout around an island unit, either by itself or complemented by surrounding cabinetry – they’re great for additional storage, versatile workspace and sociable functions. If you’re using one as a home for appliances, such as your hob, do consider the working triangle and how it affects movement around the room.

A guide to kitchen layouts copy

Image: Nolte Küchen (01707 290 444; nolte-kitchens.com)


Islands aren’t suitable for very small kitchens as there needs to be a minimum space around them for doors to open and people to pass easily, plus they can become cluttered and push up your budget. ‘In larger open-plan kitchens, the triangle has evolved into more of a working circle,’ says Steve Tough, commercial sales director at Masterclass Kitchens (01443 449 499; masterclasskitchens.co.uk). ‘In such spaces, the food-prep area is no longer in a corner, but brought centre-stage as part of the island.’


Words: Rachel Ogden

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