The kitchen 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.
The most important thing to keep in mind when designing a new kitchen (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. And 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.
The galley kitchen—also known as the parallel kitchen or the walk-through 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 galley 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
A one wall kitchen—also known as an I-shaped 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.
The U-shaped kitchen—also known as the horseshoe kitchen—is made up of appliances and cabinets that take up 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 and the kitchen will be cramped.
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, an island can be added. 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 will be needed to fill the space. A U-shaped kitchen will also require multiple corner cabinets that may be difficult to access.
L-shaped kitchens, which are suitable for an open floor plan, are ideal for small to medium sized homes. They are not efficient in larger kitchens. The L-shaped kitchen utilizes two walls and allows for the appliances to be spread out between the two walls.
The L-shaped kitchen creates a natural work triangle by separating the cleaning and cooking areas. One leg of the L-shape can be devoted to the sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator. The other leg can be for the stove, oven, and microwave. If an island is included in the design, the sink or cooktop can be set on the island.
The one downside of an L-shaped kitchen is that, if it is not designed properly, the appliances can wind up being too spread out.
The G-shaped kitchen—also known as the peninsula kitchen—is made up of 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.
The 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.
For a G-shaped kitchen, a large space is needed 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 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. More if one of the sides is used as a seating area.
When adding an island, you must consider what the area will be used for. Will it be a work area, a dining area, or will there be appliances installed in it? The main sink or a prep sink can be added into the island. 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.
The downside of having an island is that it cannot be moved and will dominate the space. Islands can also 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. The island can be L-shaped, have a subtle or prominent bend, be circular, or have a pentagram shape. A rectangular island with a circular table at one end is another option.
If you are looking to remodel your kitchen, give us a call at Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. to set up a free estimate. Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is Lancaster County’s premier kitchen remodeling company.