Learn how to maximize your space or choose a new floor plan for your renovation

While kitchens have evolved from a single-purpose spot for cooking to a gathering spot for the whole family, their basic shapes have stayed the same. You have a determined amount of square footage, but there are many configurations to consider. Each kitchen floor plan has perks and drawbacks. So if you’re considering a remodel or just trying to make the most of what you have, here are five of the most common layouts for kitchens and how to know which one might be right for you. 

Single-Wall Kitchen


Also known as a “Pullman kitchen,” for the long railway cars of yesteryear, the single-wall kitchen is the way to go if space is at a premium. This style can be found in lofts and studios where appliances and cabinets are on a single wall. Often, they open into a larger area that can be occupied by an island for extra storage and seating or a table to create a dine-in kitchen. You’ll likely be able to see the kitchen from multiple rooms, so keeping it clean, clutter-free and organized is a must. 

Galley Kitchen


The next logical progression after a single wall is, you guessed it—two walls! A galley, or “walk-through,” kitchen consists of two facing walls with parallel countertops and a walkway between them. You can expect to use every inch of your countertop in a galley kitchen, especially since there are no corners to contend with. The galley kitchen makes great use of the traditional 'work triangle" between the sink, range and refrigerator, and will likely feel like a convenient place for cooking. Depending on the distance between the counters, things can easily feel cramped, so choose cabinet and paint colors wisely and maximize the light from windows. 

L-shaped Kitchen


If your small to medium-sized kitchen will accommodate more than a single wall or galley, consider creating an L-shaped space. This efficient design can utilize one or two walls, and might include a kitchen island with storage and seating, making this a practical place for hanging out with family and guests. If one of the walls in your L-shaped kitchen is an island, you’ll be trading overhead cabinet storage for a design that opens it up to adjacent rooms. If you choose this style for your renovation, consider adding a sink to the island to free up counter and prep space on the other wall. 

U-shaped Kitchen


Whether you call this one a U-shaped or C-shaped kitchen, the concept is the same: three walls that create an alcove. This floor plan is a favorite of homeowners with a larger kitchen because of its lavish utility and the potential to add a center island for extra prep and storage. Most U-shaped kitchens feature distinct areas (typically the short, external-facing wall) for food preparation, cooking and storage. Because of their size, they’re comfortable for multiple cooks. If you’re planning a U-shaped kitchen, be sure to consider the distance you’ll need to walk or pivot between the sink, range and refrigerator. Nobody wants to take a long, potentially perilous walk from the range to the sink to drain a pot of boiling water.

G-shaped or Peninsula Kitchen


If you need a bit more room for seating or storage but don’t have room for an island, consider turning your U-shaped kitchen into a G-shaped, or peninsula, kitchen. Adding an angled fourth side to the “U” is typically done by adding a peninsula without upper cabinets to keep from closing off the kitchen. The peninsula will serve as seating and dining space, so don’t count the countertops as usable storage for appliances. (You really only need four things on your kitchen counters, right?) The G-shaped kitchen has the potential to provide the most cabinet and counter space of all these designs. As with the galley kitchen, keep the colors bright and light to keep from feeling confined and cramped.

If you inherited a kitchen layout you aren’t in love with, consider the square footage of your kitchen and which of these styles would work best. Do you need more seating? Crave more storage? Need to create a tighter work triangle for cooking efficiency? Do a walk-through of how you prepare and enjoy meals, and take this opportunity to address some of your pet peeves with your current setup. By keeping lighting, storage and functionality in mind, you have the opportunity to create a space that will feel perfect for your lifestyle.