Kitchen layout planning - Grand Designs magazine

How to plan your kitchen layout

Find a place for everything and ensure your scheme is incredibly well-organised

By Paula Woods |

There is a method to devising the most user-friendly kitchen. The idea is to have easy access to everyday items, keeping things you use often either at the top of base cabinets or the bottom of wall units to reduce the amount of bending and stretching needed to reach them. Kitchen layout planning at the design stage is crucial to help you create a well-organised, functional space. Consider the space in terms of zones – keep pans and utensils close to cooking and food-prep areas, with cleaning materials near to the dishwasher and sink or in the utility room.

Looking through a galley kitchen with timber cabinets and a white work surface.

Project by Studio2 Architects with appliances by Fisher & Paykel

Kitchen layout planning

Put a plan together from the start of your project. Review an existing kitchen layout and decide what could be changed for the better. The plan should take account of every possible detail, including the position and number of plug sockets, the arrangement and sizes of shelving, drawers, cupboards and the internal cabinet fittings. It helps to make an inventory of all the kitchen equipment you use. If your budget allows, hire an experienced kitchen designer, whose planning skills will tailor solutions to suit your current and future requirements. Order units and worksurfaces before the room is at second fix stage to prevent delays in the timeline of work.

Large open-plan kitchen with peninsula island unit and bar stool seating

Sutton Graphite and Coastal mist kitchen, Masterclass Kitchens

Solutions for small rooms

In a small kitchen, consider whether it is possible to rework nearby spaces and exploit them for storage potential. How about under the stairs, an unused alcove, recess or chimney breast? Or create space with structural changes such as a side return extension partitioned with glazed metal-framed doors. Often the only option in a narrow kitchen is to have a single run of cabinets. This can look elegant and will also work in a bigger multifunctional room. Group worksurfaces, the sink and oven in one area. Tall cabinets at one or both ends of the run, with shelving or wall cabinets above the base units offers the greatest amount of storage.

Photography by Alexis Hamilton for Plain English Design

Bespoke Long House cupboards and Osea island unit, Plain English

Walls of storage

Creating functional zones for food preparation, cooking and eating can be useful in a big or open-plan room and when you want to include an island unit. Dedicating a single wall of cupboards that extend to the ceiling is a great way to confine storage to one area that’s close to the cooking zone. Keep the most frequently used items on lower shelves.

Ideas to improve kitchen cabinet layouts

  • Improve an otherwise hard-to-access space in a corner cabinet by fitting a shelving solution, such as a pull-out LeMans unit.
  • Charging stations can be included in a drawer or concealed in a cupboard to keep worksurface cable clutter to a minimum.
  • Deep drawers below the hob are great for keeping pasta and assorted dried foods within close reach.
  • Consider cabinets with 100mm high plinths, as opposed to a 150mm plinth where you lose 50mm in cabinet space.