This Old School Kitchen Trend is Making a Comeback, and We’re Here for It

published Dec 25, 2019
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Think galley kitchens are a relic of the 20th century ? We’re not so sure. This kitchen layout first came into popularity back in the early 1900s for efficiency reasons on small, narrow ships. But just because it’s old school doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In fact, there’s a lot to like about galley kitchens, or in-line kitchens, as they are sometimes called, because—you guessed it—the entire kitchen (appliances, cabinets, and fixtures ) is laid out in a straight line.

Need some proof? These seven kitchens will show you just how awesome a galley layout can be.

Credit: Sweeten

Galleys are Good for Small Spaces 

The galley setup works remarkably well in tight spaces like this teensy kitchen in Brooklyn. It lets the homeowners make use of all available wall space—horizontal and vertical (note the tall cabinets!)—and creates a clear walkway, or flow, in the space.

To prevent a galley from looking cramped, keep light and storage in mind when you’re picking materials. Here, a window combined with white cabinetry—including a pair of cupboards with glass doors—keeps the overall look light and airy. 

They’re Easy to Move Around In

Galleys make cooking super efficient. Everything’s within arm’s reach, so you can move about your kitchen like a pro. This California kitchen’s setup is a great guide for aisle size—big enough that you can move freely, but not so wide you have to take more than two steps to cross it. When you don’t have a big island or kitchen table to move around, you might be surprised how much time you’ll actually save getting things done.

Credit: Sweeten

You Can Hide Your Mess From Guests

Galleys get a bad rap for being too secluded, but that’s not always a bad thing. Having a kitchen that’s tucked away in its own little corner, such as this small Brooklyn kitchen, means you don’t have to keep it looking spick and span all the time. Company coming? Leave the pots and pans for later. No one’s going to see them anyway. Just make sure you have good overhead lighting, so it doesn’t feel dark and dreary when you’re actually in the galley working. 

Credit: Sweeten

They Can Still be Open-Concept 

If you really don’t want a closed-off kitchen, don’t take the galley layout out of the running just yet. You can get an open-concept look without losing the straight line layout, thanks to an interior cut-out “window.” This homeowner renovated her galley kitchen in NYC’s Upper West Side to look into the living room and make it feel more connected to the rest of the home. She still has tons of storage and workspace. But this design element allowed her to create a little bar area, so she can make her meals—and eat them—all in the kitchen.

You Can Go Bold With Color, and It’s Not Overpowering

The silver lining of small spaces: You can be loud with them! Because they’re contained, it won’t feel like your whole house is screaming, should you choose a bold color. We are obsessed with the bright blue cabinets and retro orange fridge in this London home. The room is peppy and fun, and the colors make what could be a small, boring kitchen into a place you’d actually want to spend time in. 

They’re Highly Customizable to Your Needs

Maybe the best part about galley kitchens is you can make them work for you. It’s just two rows of cabinets, countertops, and appliances, so arrange them however works best for your lifestyle. Messy cook? Opt for lots of counter space on both sides of the aisle, like in this plant-filled Brooklyn kitchen. Lots of dishes to store? Go heavy on the cabinetry. Don’t use the oven much? Don’t put it front and center! It’s your kitchen. Arrange it as you please. 

Credit: Leah Moss

When you have fewer feet of countertop and less room for cabinets, you can actually splurge on luxe materials here and there. That’s exactly what these homeowners did in their small, simple renovated kitchen, where they added black granite counters. If cooking is your passion, you can also focus your spending on nicer appliances instead of pricey cabinetry.

So what do you think? Are you ready to give galleys a go? We’re glad they’re gaining some traction in design, because there is a lot to love about them.