The best kitchen layouts for your space

A guide to choosing the best layout design for your kitchen based on your unique needs

Story By Michaela Satterfield

When it comes to kitchens, there is no “one size fits all.” Traditionally, designers have used the work triangle to guide kitchen layouts. The idea is that an efficient, well-designed kitchen requires the range, refrigerator and sink to form a triangle. This keeps everything needed for cooking and cleaning close by. While this is a good standard to start with, thinking outside of the triangle will allow you to find a layout that is tailor-made to fit your personal kitchen needs. With endless possibilities, where should you start when designing a kitchen layout? Use this handy guide so your kitchen can be as unique as the food you make in it.

If you prefer cooking alone:

We get it – sometimes there is nothing more frustrating than a kitchen full of people when you’re trying to get dinner done before it gets dark outside. A one-wall kitchen or galley kitchen may work for you. One-wall kitchens are confined to one wall which contains all of the appliances and storage spaces in the kitchen, as the name suggests. Galley kitchens consist of two parallel walls, or one wall and a parallel counter top, like an island. If there is space on the other side of the kitchen, galley layouts create a walkway for traffic. As a bonus, choosing one of these layouts will save you some money by eliminating corner cabinets.

If there are usually too many cooks in your kitchen:

When everyone is cooking at once, things can get heated – in more ways than one. The key in this situation is to make sure traffic flows well and work zones overlap as a little as possible. A U-shaped kitchen, also known as a horseshoe kitchen, creates space for plenty of different work zones. It consists of three walls, connected in the shape of a U with squared corners. Use some strategy when spacing out the preparation, cooking and storage zones so kitchen users aren’t bumping into each other.

If you’re a true chef:

Before planning your layout, consider four work zones you use when cooking: storage (of food, dishes and utensils), preparation, cooking and cleaning. Each zone should be arranged so that you can move from one task to another in a clockwise direction while having easy access to everything you will need. A U-shaped kitchen, which consists of three connected walls, or an L-shaped kitchen, which consists of two connected walls, might work the best. Both of these layouts create plenty of space for storage and work zones.

If you like to host big parties:

Opt for a peninsula kitchen, which consists of an island connected to an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen. Adding an island to an L-shaped kitchen creates a U-shaped kitchen, while adding an island to a U-Shaped kitchen creates a G-shaped kitchen. Regardless of which of these layouts you go with, you will have plenty of storage and work space. The advantage of the peninsula kitchen is that the additional island creates extra seating space or serves as the perfect space to set out food and drinks.

If small, intimate gatherings are more your style:

Placing the kitchen near the dining room is a must so you can easily transition from one room to the next. If you like serving food buffet style, avoid traffic jams with a galley kitchen that has space on both ends. Alternatively, a peninsula kitchen creates the perfect setting for impromptu conversations over snacks.

If you tend to grab and go more than actually cook:

The goal of those who live busy lives on the go is to minimize preparation and cooking space and maximize storage space so you have room for quick meal solutions or leftovers from eating out. Any layout could potentially work for you. One-wall or galley layouts would minimize work zone space, but an L-shaped kitchen would maximize storage space.

If you hate washing the dishes:

Pay attention to where you store your dishes and utensils. The storage zone pertaining to these items is called non-consumable storage. You’ll want to make sure this zone is close to the cleaning zone, which consists of the sink and dishwasher. Putting dishes up will be a breeze when you can simply turn to a nearby cabinet instead of walking across the kitchen.

If you love keeping things organized:

You’re going to want to focus on the storage zone. Consumable storage consists of the refrigerator and pantry. Non-consumable storage consists of tableware, silverware, pots and pans. Before you even organize these items, be intentional in laying out the places they will be stored. U-shaped and L-shaped kitchens maximize storage space with corner cabinets.

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