A kitchen’s layout is the is the most important part of designing your dream kitchen. The layout will determine how you cook, clean, and store items in your kitchen. It will also determine how you eat and socialize in the room.
Unless you are working with a completely new space such as a room addition, the size and shape of your current kitchen will play a role in determining the new layout of appliances and cabinets.
When designing a new kitchen the most important thing to keep in mind (aside from space, budget, and traffic flow) is the work zone or work triangle. The kitchen work triangle is a concept that is used to design functional kitchen layouts and maximize efficiency in the kitchen. The three primary tasks carried out in the kitchen are preparation, cooking, and storage. Most of the food preparation takes place in or near the sink. Cooking is done in the oven, on the stove, or on a cooktop. Also, the refrigerator is the main place for storage. The three points between the sink, the stove/oven, and the refrigerator are known as the kitchen work triangle. It is important to design a functional work triangle that fits your kitchen and your lifestyle.
The six standard kitchen layouts are the galley kitchen, one wall kitchen, U-shaped kitchen, L-shaped kitchen, G-shaped kitchen, and the island kitchen.
Also known as the parallel kitchen or the walk-through kitchen, the galley kitchen is the most efficient layout. Galley kitchens are comprised of two parallel walls with a walkway in between and an entrance at one or both ends. This type of kitchen is ideally suited for a smaller space and one cook. Galley kitchens are generally longer than they are wide. If the kitchen is big enough and the walls are far enough apart, an island can be included.
Galley kitchens are meant to be functional and efficient. The work triangle can be spread between the two walls (sink on one wall and the stove and refrigerator on the other) or the work triangle can be confined to one wall while the other is cabinets for storage. By keeping the active workspace to one wall, the work triangle is kept free of traffic and accidents.
An upside to a galley kitchen is that there are no corner cabinets that might be difficult to use. A downside is that, if the kitchen is small, there can be limited storage space.
One Wall Kitchen
Also known as an I-shaped kitchen, a one wall kitchen is most often seen in studios or lofts. It is also popular in open concept floor plans. A one wall kitchen utilizes a minimum space by having all the appliances and cabinets along the same wall for a streamlined look.
Because the kitchen is limited to just one wall, the work triangle is also confined to the one wall. The sink, stove/oven, and refrigerator will be in a row. The downside of a one wall kitchen is that, depending on the size, there is not much room for countertops and storage. An island can be added to increase storage. The island can also be used for the sink or a cooktop.
Also known as the horseshoe kitchen, a u-shaped kitchen is made up of three adjacent walls. In an open concept floor plan, one of those walls can be a peninsula or dining area. U-shaped kitchens are typically large. The room will need to be 10 to 18 feet wide to accommodate a U-shaped kitchen. Otherwise, the cabinets and appliances will reduce the floor area. This will create a cramped kitchen.
U-shaped kitchens are the most versatile of the designs and creates the most effective work triangle. Because of the size, a U-shaped kitchen allows for multiple workstations and multiple cooks.
If the kitchen is large enough, you can add an island. It is best to make the island part of the work triangle, by either installing the sink or cooktop in the island. One thing you do not want to do is have the island get in the way of a leg in the work triangle.
The downside of U-shaped kitchens is that they are not budget friendly. The bigger the kitchen, the more cabinets and appliances needed to fill the space. A U-shaped kitchen will also require multiple corner cabinets that may be difficult to access.
Suitable for an open floor plan, L-shaped kitchens are ideal for small to medium sized homes. They are not efficient in larger kitchens. The L-shaped kitchen utilizes two walls and you can spread out the appliances.
Also, an L-shaped kitchen creates a natural work triangle by separating the cleaning and cooking areas. You can devote one side to the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator. The other can be for the stove, oven, and microwave. If an island is included in the design, then sink or cooktop can be set on the island.
There is one downside of an L-shaped kitchen. If the kitchen is not designed properly, then the appliances may be too spread out.
Also known as the peninsula kitchen, this kitchen has four walls of cabinets. One of those walls (along with an entry/exit) point in made up of a peninsula that is accessible from three sides. The G-shaped kitchen is like the U-shape in that is offers the same workflow and storage options. It will also have adequate room for more than one cook and multiple work triangles.
A peninsula offers all the benefits of a kitchen island—workspace for cooking and eating as well as more base cabinets for storage. The advantage of a peninsula is that it takes up less floor space than an island. The peninsula also opens the room and allows for an open concept layout.
Additionally, you’ll need a large space. This is because the room can easily become cramped with cabinets, appliances, and people. There must be an adequate path to get in and out of the kitchen.
Any kitchen layout can include an island if the room is large enough to accommodate it. In a small kitchen, an island will cause the room to feel cramped. It will also interfere with traffic. In medium to large kitchens, the island helps do away with both wasted space and long distances in the work triangle. To properly accommodate an island, there will need to be 36 to 42 inches of clearance on all sides. If one side is for seating, then you’ll need more.
Additionally, consider what you want your island for. Will it be a work area or a dining area? You also can install appliances in the island such as the main sink or a prep sink. Having a range or a cooktop in the island is also a possibility, though they can be difficult to ventilate and having a hot surface in an open area could be dangerous.
The main benefit of an island is that it provides additional storage, an extra work surface, and a dining area.
On the other hand, an island will dominate the space. Also, it can disrupt the work triangle. If you want a portable island, try using a wheeled cart or a table.
An island does not have to be rectangular or square in shape. It can be many different shapes including an “L”, a circle, a pentagram, and even more. Another option is to have a rectangular island with a circular table at one end.
If you are looking to remodel your kitchen, contact us today to set up a free estimate. Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is Lancaster, PA’s premier kitchen remodeling company. We work along with Starmark Cabinetry, to bring you a the highest quality custom kitchen for your home that fits all your needs.