By Stephanie Booth
When remodeling a kitchen, deciding on the right design layout is crucial. After all, the exact location of your various countertops and appliances will dictate just how smoothly you can cook, clean up, and chat with your guests while rinsing the arugula.
You probably have a dream kitchen already built in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for your space. In this article, we highlight the various kitchen design layouts you should consider, as well as their pros and cons.
For starters: “The size of the kitchen will largely determine the layout, since many kitchen functions require certain amounts of space around them to be the most efficient,” explains Nancy Vayo, senior interior design leader for Ikea North America.
But plenty more will dictate the best kitchen layout for your space. Here’s how to choose which one’s right for you, based on your space, tastes, and more.
1. Kitchen island
Good for: Lovers of efficiency and those in possession of some serious space
What’s the phrase? No woman is an island; she just has one in her kitchen? Center islands continue to be one of the hottest kitchen design trends.
That shouldn’t come as a shock. An island can ensure a strong and efficient work triangle if it contains your sink, cooking unit, or refrigerator. Plus, it can provide an extra surface for dining, doing homework, or making cocktails.
“If space permits, an island becomes an added benefit of storage and function,” says Vayo.
Yet the key word is space. The minimum recommended size for an island is 40 square inches, plus a clearance zone of 31.5 inches. Don’t have the square footage to accommodate that? Choose a less supersized option.
2. Kitchen peninsula
Good for: Island wannabes lacking the square footage
As stated above, you need a hella lot of space to pull off a workhorse kitchen island. A more realistic option for many people is what’s known as a peninsula-style kitchen. You still get an island (sort of). It’s just connected to a wall, which makes it a peninsula.
“This is perfect for homes without enough room to allow for a decent-sized kitchen island and the necessary circulation around it,” explains Carib Daniel Martin, a residential architect. “A peninsula provides stool space and an open feel in a more space-efficient layout.”
3. Single-sided kitchen
The single-sided kitchen is a straight run designed along just one wall.
“This solution is most suitable for narrow spaces and small households, where only one, or a maximum of two, people work in the kitchen at a time,” says Vayo. “With all appliances and cabinets against one wall, the work triangle is reduced to a straight line.”
To maximize your storage capacity in this streamlined design, invest in a wall-mounted rail system where you can hang pots, knives, and other items you want to keep within reach, Vayo suggests.
And if the height of the room permits, upper cabinets or open shelving can be designed to go to the ceiling and make the most of every last bit of space.
4. Galley kitchen
Good for: People who are limited in space but full of ambition
You love to cook and spend hours in the kitchen, yet have a narrow space to do so, with windows, or even doors, situated on the short walls of the room. Don’t despair—there’s still a layout for you. It’s called a double-sided (aka galley) kitchen, in which work surfaces and storage space line both sides of your space.
Still, you’ll need to resist the urge to cram as much as you can into this layout. For instance, you’ll need to plan a minimum of 47 inches between opposite kitchen units so that doors and drawers can be opened freely from both sides at a time, says Vayo.
“Avoid placing work spaces opposite each other so that two people can comfortably work together without getting in each other’s way or having to stand directly back to back,” she adds.
5. L-shaped layout
Good for: Easygoing entertainers who go with the flow
Homeowners looking to remodel overwhelmingly gravitate toward this spacious and flexible kitchen layout, which is just what it sounds like—your kitchen and countertops arranged an open “L” shape.
“The L-shaped kitchen layout works best for those who are wanting to merge their dining table with their kitchen area,” says Martin. “You can use this to create a separate eat-in kitchen or as a part of an open living area.”
Beware: If you prefer privacy when you cook, or at least a buffer zone against guests, an L-shaped kitchen may not suit those needs.