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The 3 Most Common Kitchen Layouts

Kitchens are like fingerprints - no two are exactly alike. There are, however, a few basic layouts that many kitchen plans seem to fall into: the galley kitchen, the L-shaped kitchen and the U-shaped kitchen. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each of these, so if you’re remodeling your kitchen, you might want to know which one best suits your lifestyle.

The Galley Kitchen

The galley kitchen is very common, especially in smaller kitchens. A galley is similar in style to an equal sign, with two rows of cabinets and appliances set up against two walls that parallel each other. They tend to be rather tight, but can also offer superior efficiency. One of the greatest advantages that this style affords is that there is nothing in the middle, nothing to have to walk around. The triangle is small, which is good. In design terms, the triangle refers to the distance between your three major appliances: the refrigerator, the stove and the sink. The bigger your kitchen triangle, the less efficient it is.

The galley kitchen allows you to flow easily from one side of the kitchen to the other, and generally affords you ample space between the rows for maneuvering inside cabinets or pulling out roll-out trays or drawers. One of the major disadvantages, however, is that there’s just not enough room for other features, like an island or peninsula. Generally speaking, without adding onto your kitchen, it’s the only design that will work in the space you have.

The L-Shaped Kitchen

The L-shaped kitchen is also very common. It lends itself to the flexibility of changing your kitchen layout or adding other great features, such as a kitchen island. With the L-shaped kitchen, you’ll find cabinets and appliances laid out just like it sounds - in an L-shape, usually with at least one leg of the L up against a wall.

L-shaped kitchens vary greatly in length, but if designed too wide, they can stretch the kitchen triangle out a bit too far, making it less efficient than the galley plan. But this layout is still versatile, and can easily be transformed with the addition of a kitchen island or peninsula. A peninsula is a set of cabinets that extend out into the room - not against a wall - but are connected to the end of one of the legs of the L. Like an island, these can be designed with an eating bar on the back side. Both additions give you extra cabinet/storage space, more countertop working area and possibly another sitting and eating area. The key with these features in an L-shaped kitchen is to be sure to not hinder your triangle. Ease of movement is key.

U-Shaped Kitchen

A U-shaped kitchen is a layout with cabinetry aligned in a U-shape. It’s really like combining a galley with an L-shape. Some U-shaped kitchens are laid out in this manner because there are three adjacent walls in the kitchen, allowing for continuous cabinetry along all three walls. In other cases, with more open house layouts, the U-shaped kitchen may have only one or two of the legs against a wall, with the others out in the open.

Like the galley, the U-shape is typically very efficient, with every cabinet and appliance facing an empty middle expanse. If the two outer legs of the U are very long, it’s important that you keep your triangle tight. You can do this by placing your sink somewhere near the middle of the center length in the U and keeping your stove and refrigerator close to the corners on the outer legs, with extra countertop and cabinetry extending the lengths. As long as the triangle is tight, the cabinets on the outsides of the refrigerator and stove will serve as great extra storage space for items you don’t often use. Or you can get your kids to make themselves useful with chopping and prepping side dishes, while the main chef works steadily in the triangle.

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