What’s the best kitchen layout for your home? These kitchen floor plan ideas will help you plan your kitchen remodel to be smart and space-efficient with our guide to kitchen configurations including L-shaped, U-shaped, galley, one-wall and more kitchen layouts.
Get more kitchen remodel inspiration with our favorite kitchen before and afters plus cheap DIY kitchen countertop ideas and 22 ways to update your kitchen island.
MOST POPULAR KITCHEN LAYOUTS
and How to Use Them
by guest author Juliana Gordon
Remodeling your kitchen is an exciting prospect and a big decision that can change the feel of your entire home. Your new design needs to reflect the constraints of your house (including square footage), while also providing you with the counter and cabinet space you’ll need to use the kitchen the way you want to.
Before you make the final call, take a look at these six popular kitchen layouts that homeowners and designers are using to give their homes a fresh, new feeling. The 5 most common kitchen floor plans are one-wall, galley, L-shaped, U-shaped, and G-shaped, and any of these can also incorporate a kitchen island.
First: The Kitchen Work Triangle / Kitchen Zones
One of the biggest considerations in a kitchen remodel is the traffic and functionality of the space. Improving your kitchen layout to create a floor plan that saves steps and makes kitchen work more efficient will help you LOVE your kitchen! The key to an efficient kitchen floor plan is using kitchen zones to form a work triangle.
What’s a work triangle?
A kitchen working triangle is a design strategy that says that the three main work areas should form a triangle between 1) the sink (and dishwasher), 2 ) the stove/oven, and 3) the refrigerator.
This triangle design maximizes efficiency by centralizing the workflow of the most common kitchen tasks, which is especially important for home cooks in a small kitchen. (That’s me 🙋 and probably you!)
As you’re planning an efficient kitchen triangle (or “golden triangle”), here are the rules designers follow:
- Each side of the triangle should be 4-9 feet — not too compact, but not too spread out.
- No kitchen fixture (such as an island) should cut into the triangle more than 12 inches. Remember, this is about walking traffic, not just distance.
- The sum total of all the triangle sides should 13-26 feet – again, smaller dimensions for fewer steps between zones.
- No other traffic patterns cut across the triangle.
Now, remember, these are more like guidelines anyway. 🏴☠️ Create a layout and kitchen zones that work for you and the way that you use your space. The kitchen triangle maximizes efficiency for ONE cook in the kitchen, so if you are regularly cooking with a partner or host guests often, the traffic patterns will be different. Larger kitchens may have 2 triangles, where each includes a sink, a storage space (fridge/pantry), and a prep/cooking area.
Is the kitchen triangle outdated? What about kitchen zones instead?
Many modern home cooks find it more meaningful to use the kitchen triangle as a starting point and spend more effort organizing the kitchen in zones for common tasks. The 5 kitchen zones most commonly used are:
- Consumables zone: where you store most of your food. This will be split between and include both fresh food (refrigerator/freezer) and other food in the pantry or a food cabinet.
- Non-Consumables zone: where you store regularly used daily dishes, glasses, silverware, etc.
- Cleaning zone: your sink and dishwashing area. You’ll want to locate your non-Consumable zone near the cleaning zone.
- Preparation zone: where you do most food prep, such as a section of countertop or kitchen island. Include storage space for cutting boards, knives, bowls, etc.
- Cooking zone: stove, range, oven, and possibly microwave area. The cooking zone and prep zone should be near to each other. Include storage space for pots, pans, and utensils.
Thinking in terms of work paths (including the triangle) between these zones can help you design a kitchen layout that makes sense for how you cook and clean up. In your kitchen remodel planning, keep these ideas in mind and think about how you’ll use the redesigned space. Often, changing the placement of just one of the three fixtures (or one of the five zones) can make a big difference.
The One-Wall Kitchen Layout
The most basic kitchen layout is a one-wall kitchen. This simple kitchen floor plan puts all of the countertops, cabinetry, and appliances on a single wall. This is a good layout for smaller houses, apartments, studios, and lofts where there is very little space available. Putting everything on one wall frees up more room for dining space, and doesn’t block the windows.
But what about the kitchen triangle?
It’s basic geometry: a line is NOT a triangle. A single-wall kitchen can still create a “triangle” in the walking paths of the cook — just with longer paths between. This is a time when it’s more helpful to htink in ZONES instead of the kitchen triangle. The simplest way to make a one-wall kitchen more efficient for the cook is to add an extra workspace to form the prep area zone of the triangle.
Since there is limited counter space is available, it’s a good idea to use a high dining table that can double as an extra countertop. Also, consider a smaller rolling table or kitchen island that you can easily pull out when you need an extra work surface and put away later to save space.
The Galley Kitchen Layout
The galley kitchen, or walk-through kitchen, consists of two walls with a walkway in between. It could be open on just one end, or open on both ends — a hallway kitchen, basically. This floor plan maximizes the space available in such a corridor, and keeps your cabinets and appliances within easy reach.
Galley kitchens also tend to segment the cooking space away from the dining room and the rest of the house, vs an open kitchen floor plan that is common in L-shaped or U shaped kitchens.
This is a good kitchen layout idea to be used by a single chef, or two at the very most unless the kitchen is very long. With workspaces on both sides, a cook can easily set up a basic cooking triangle work zone by having two elements on one wall and a third centered between them on the opposite wall.
The downsides to a galley kitchen floor plan include the lack of room for a kitchen table in between the walls, and crowding if too many people are moving through it.
The L-Shaped Kitchen Layout
Also good for smaller kitchens, the L-shaped layout idea puts the kitchen workspaces on two adjacent walls, forming an L. This design helps keep traffic out of the kitchen, forms a natural triangle work zone, and gives you enough space for a dining table and chairs (or an island).
This natural work flow setup makes an L-shaped kitchen layout a great option for smaller homes, including remodels where you remove a wall to open up the kitchen.
Having a kitchen wall that’s at least 15 feet long will help keep things within reach in an L-shape kitchen floor plan, helping you to cook more efficiently. If you have plenty of room, you may want to consider a different layout that would better utilize your space.
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The U-Shaped Kitchen Layout
The U-shaped kitchen design, often called a horseshoe, uses three walls that form a “U” shape. It’s a good layout to use if you need a large space to prep or cook on or when there will be multiple cooks in one area.
At least 10 feet of space between walls is needed to make a U-shape kitchen floor plan a practical option, though you can see the layout in both small and large kitchens in the images.
The horseshoe design makes it easy to create work triangles for preparing and cleaning, but special care needs to be taken when considering the location of cabinets and appliances.
If cabinet doors or appliances are too close to each other at the corners of the U-shaped layout, the doors will collide when opened. Having two corners also makes it important to maximize the space in your corner base cabinets so you have plenty of storage without dead space.
Kitchen Island Layout Ideas
The kitchen island is becoming a more popular choice today. It consists of a free-standing workspace that provides more functionality to a kitchen and can be used in a variety of ways.
Appliances, kitchen cabinets, and even sinks can be incorporated into a kitchen island, or just a simple countertop. They can also make good kitchen tables, or mobile tables if they have wheels, provided there is enough room.
The G-Shaped Kitchen Layout
Peninsula kitchens add an extra leg to a single kitchen wall. This transforms the space into an “L” shape, or an existing “L” shape into a horseshoe layout, or from an L-shaped kitchen into a P-shaped or G-shaped kitchen. This layout is best for a rectangular kitchen, and it can be scaled to fit kitchens of many sizes.
The peninsula provides extra countertop, cabinet, and appliance space. It also allows multiple people to gather around the same area, maximizing the amount of space available. Like an island, you can pull chairs up to the peninsula and use it as a dining table.
Kitchen Layout FAQs
Have a question about kitchen floor plans? Leave us a comment below!
What is the most functional kitchen layout?
While any kitchen can be functional, the L-shaped kitchen layout is the easiest floor plan to create a work triangle in a small space. An L-shaped kitchen is also the most flexible. For these reasons, it’s the most common and the most popular for smaller kitchens, especially kitchens with adjoining dining rooms or open kitchens.
What kitchen layout is popular in small homes?
In small homes where space is at a premium, a galley kitchen is the small kitchen layout to choose. This compact floor plan keeps everything close at hand.
In a small home with a little bit more square footage, an L-shaped kitchen can be a good option to optimize space for both kitchen and dining room needs combined.
What kitchen layout is popular in large homes?
For homes with large kitchens, the best kitchen layouts are U-shaped and G-shaped. These layouts make the most of the space by adding extra base cabinets for storage and additional countertop space for food preparation. Many large kitchens also have room for one (or even two!) kitchen islands or peninsulas to maximize storage and dine-in space.
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About The Author: Juliana Gordon has loved interior decorating since she was a child; you could always find her rearranging the furniture in her dollhouses. From a young age, she knew interior decorating was her calling. Gordon received a degree in interior design from the Rocky Mountain Academy of Art and Design, and currently plans and decorates houses for a bevy of personal clients. She is extremely passionate about the design and home improvement industry, and chooses to share her knowledge online. Juliana contributes to several publications and blogs in her spare time, including Kitchens by Wedgewood.
First published 19 July 2014 // Last updated 14 Apr 2023
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