The Best Kitchen Layouts, According to Interior Designers

published Nov 8, 2019
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Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes. However, the layout of your kitchen—aka the arrangement of your countertops, appliances, and storage areas—is what can make or break the efficiency of your space. 

So how do you determine the most effective floor plan when designing a kitchen? Well, for starters, you should take into account the overall size of your space to assess whether or not there’s room for a kitchen island. “The most common layouts we see in our residential build projects right now are U- and L-shaped kitchens, as well as the one-wall kitchen,” says interior designer Cortney Bishop. “It’s pretty rare that we see a peninsula-island layout anymore because everyone wants a true floating island.”

Not sure what kitchen layout is right for you? We asked four interior designers and architects what floor plans they prefer for a kitchen, and here’s what they had to say. 

One Wall

Also known as the single wall or straight kitchen floor plan, the one wall layout consists of a work line with all three kitchen zones (countertops, appliances, and cabinets) along the same wall. And if you have enough space, a floating island can be integrated into the kitchen, opposite that single wall of appliances and storage.

“We predominantly design one wall kitchens with an appliance/storage wall and floating island,” Bishop says. “In this situation, you lay out the majority of your working space and range in the single wall and position the fridge and pantry away from that area on its own wall. Access to the fridge and pantry are crucial for your family and guests, and this choice will keep the crowd at bay!”

The U-Shape

Arguably the most versatile layout for any size of kitchen, a U-shaped floor plan surrounds the user on three sides, so it allows for longer countertops and extra storage cabinetry. 

“If you have enough space, I love a U-shaped kitchen with an island in the center,” says interior designer Tina Rich. “This allows for the maximum amount of cabinets around the perimeter with the island being the central anchor of the kitchen.” Rich suggests putting your range or sink in the island. That way, you can look out into the rest of your space while cooking or cleaning dishes and engage with your family or guests.

Credit: Chad Mellon

The L-Shape

An L-shaped kitchen is composed of countertops on two adjoining walls that are perpendicular, forming an L. Not only does this popular layout offer up extra space for counters and storage, it usually provides room for a dining zone or breakfast nook. 

“Our go-to is L-shaped with a large kitchen island positioned on the centerline of the room,” says Chris Brandon of Brandon Architects. “The L-shaped best allows for kitchen usability and best accommodates the kitchen triangle rule. You can place an additional kitchen sink on the island, allowing for more practical use of the space, or add storage underneath the island and space for seating on the other side.” 

Credit: Eric Roth

The Galley

Most commonly found in smaller homes, a galley floor plan consists of two parallel walls with appliances and cabinets facing each other. Designed to accommodate one cook at a time, galley kitchens are usually long and narrow.

“A galley kitchen is a great option for a home that does not have the space for a grand and open kitchen,” says interior designer Liz Caan. “They have many benefits, one of which is the amount of counter space they can provide. With its long and narrow structure, this allows for expansive counters and a lot of cabinet space to keep the kitchen organized and decluttered.” 

Which layout do you think would work best for you? Share your thoughts and kitchen layout experiences in the comments.