Kitchen Planning Guide

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Kitchen floor plans are often classified by their shape. The simplest is a kitchen laid out along a single wall. Two walls opposite each other give you a galley – a very efficient layout with the drawback that if there’s a door at each end, the traffic flow passes right through the work triangle.

L-shaped kitchens are laid out along two sides of a room: U-shaped kitchens use three sides. Both of these can be designed to be out of the main traffic flow, depending on door locations. Islands and peninsulas can be added to these basic shapes to direct traffic, improve work flow, and add counter and storage space.

Single-Wall Kitchen Layouts

 Typical Kitchen Layouts

One-wall layouts can be very efficient, provided they are small enough. What’s that you say? Isn’t bigger better? Not when it involves walking back and forth along a long lineup of appliances and worktops!

Keep your layout compact, or add an island across from your one wall if you have the space, and turn it into the equivalent of a galley. Ideally, you want the work sequence to flow from food storage (cabinets, fridge) to prep area (countertop, sink) to cooking center (range, microwave) to eating area. Right to left or left to right is up to you and how your house is arranged. Make sure you also have at least one decent sized (30″ minimum) countertop area to work at.

Galley Kitchens

The galley layout (two walls opposite each other) is one of the most efficient you can get for a single cook. With two points of the triangle on one wall and the other point on the opposite wall, your walking distance will be short, but there’s also room for plenty of storage and counter space. The main drawback occurs if, as in this example, you have a door at each end of the space (or even more doors in the sides!). A door at each end makes the galley into a through traffic route.

How much of a problem that is depends on your family and what’s at each end of the kitchen. Sometimes it’s possible to block off one of the doors and use an alternative traffic route, leaving the kitchen to the cook. Another possible gotcha to watch for is appliance doors opening into each other across the center aisle. If possible, offset your appliances so that the doors can’t interfere with each other. Width of the aisle between counters should be about 4 feet. More will give you more room for traffic, but more walking back and forth: less can be OK if it’s a dead-end galley with only one cook, but can feel a bit cramped.

L-Shaped Kitchen Plans

The main advantages of the L-shaped plan is that it’s easy to keep traffic out of the work triangle, it can be compact, and the area opposite the corner of the L can be the perfect place for a table and chairs or an island. If the L gets too big, though, it can mean a lot of walking. You also have the “corner problem”: whether to put the sink or range there (which restricts usage to one person at a time) or a cabinet which either has dead space inside or requires special fittings to use the space.

Island Kitchen Layouts

Islands have been so fashionable in the last few years that they have been squeezed into every possible – and not-quite-possible – kitchen. In the right situation, an island can really improve your kitchen but they take more space than you might think. One of the best locations for an island is between the kitchen area and the living or family area of a large all-purpose room.

There is usually enough space in a room like this to make an island workable, and the island can mark off the boundaries of the kitchen area and provide seating space without creating tight squeezes in the process.

Things to watch out for:

U-Shaped Kitchen Layouts

The U shaped kitchen can be another very efficient design, with everything close to hand and no through traffic. The main downside is that you have two corners to deal with. Sometimes if the opposite working walls are fairly close together you can be better off using the space as a galley rather than a U. A galley or L-shape can sometimes be turned into a U by adding workspace across the end of the galley, or a peninsula (see below) to an L shape.

Kitchen Plans with Peninsulas

Peninsulas, after being a fashion no-no for years, are back in style again. Style aside, like an island, a peninsula can improve the functioning of your kitchen or make it worse. They can be used to create a partial barrier between the kitchen area of a larger room and the rest of the room (often with chairs or stools and an eating area on the non-kitchen side), to direct traffic, and to add counter space.

A peninsula can also act as too much of a barrier, especially if it includes overhead kitchen cabinets as well as base cabinets. You also need to make sure there’s enough room to get past the end of the peninsula easily.

Another potential problem is appliance doors opening opposite the end of the peninsula, so that the person exploring the fridge for a snack, loading the dishwasher, or taking a hot casserole out of the oven blocks all traffic into the kitchen.

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