The Top 5 Kitchen Layouts

Lulie Wallace L-Shaped Kitchen
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Elly Poston Cooper

Despite what you may think, a bigger kitchen is not always a better one. There are certainly perks to additional storage and counter space, but the key to a super functional kitchen is a space that optimizes the traditional work triangle: the path between the refrigerator, range, and sink. Too close and you simply don't have enough space to work (and certainly not enough space for a second person), but too far and you're exhausted by the time you've finished cooking a meal.If you're planning to overhaul your own kitchen, the first step is to pick the layout that you like best and that works with the existing architecture of your home. Often, the room that has been designated as the kitchen has permanent constraints that dictate this layout to some extent, but even so, every space can become a great kitchen. It's just a matter of planning a layout that optimizes the square footage available.No matter your style or whether you have a wide-open floor plan or a closed off room, these are the 5 kitchen layouts that have proven to be the most functional time and time again.

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One-Wall Kitchen

Jen and Grant Humphrey Oklahoma One Wall Kitchen with Island
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

The single-wall kitchen is very basic and a popular choice for small homes and loft apartments because it makes the most of the space. As the name implies, counters and appliances are all lined up against a single wall, which also makes installation simpler and cheaper without having to deal with pesky corners. The classic work triangle loses its general shape but moving between the key zones of a one-wall kitchen should be easy and unimpeded. If space allows, an island of any size really improves the functionality of this layout, providing more counter space for prep work.

02 of 05

Galley Kitchen

Jessica Thuston Galley Kitchen Layout
Annie Schlechter; Styling: Anne Turner Carroll

A galley kitchen is simply two single-wall kitchen layouts running parallel to each other. This is another compact layout that works well in smaller homes, and given the tight space between work zones, is really optimized for only one cook. If the interior wall closing off a galley kitchen can be removed, swapping a wall of both upper and lower cabinets for a long island will make the space feel much less cramped without losing any of the counter space (and only half of the storage).

03 of 05


Lulie Wallace L-Shaped Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Elly Poston Cooper

The L-shaped kitchen is one of the most popular layouts because it's super functional and can be adapted for almost any sized space. As the name implies, an L-shaped layout features cabinetry and appliances along two adjacent walls, creating an obvious triangle path between work zones. Unlike a galley kitchen, an L-shaped kitchen rarely requires non-cooks to have to walk through the space, but there certainly is more room for additional cooks with this layout. The length of the two walls need not be equal, but if the room is fairly large, this layout can be optimized further with a central island.

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U-Shaped Kitchen

Lindsey Ellis Beatty U-Shaped Kitchen Layout
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

The U-shaped, or horseshoe, kitchen adds a third wall to the L-shaped layout, surrounding the cook with workspace on all three sides, and providing seamless countertop and storage space. U-shaped layouts are functional in small or large spaces, and the third wall can adapt to be an attached peninsula or floating island, which will keep the room from feeling closed-off and optimize traffic flow.

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G-Shaped Kitchen Layout
YinYang/Getty Images

Rounding out the letter-inspired kitchen layouts is the G-shaped kitchen, which essentially occupies three full walls and a partial fourth. The fourth wall is typically a peninsula, ideal for barstool seating. In a small room, the G-shaped kitchen can feel quite cramped, so it will likely benefit from removing one of the walls to open the kitchen up into an adjoining room—or at the least, removing the upper cabinets from one wall and installing shelving to open up the space.

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