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Find the Best Kitchen Layout For You

Check Out  Open Galley, U-Shaped, L-Shaped and Two-Island Kitchen Layouts To See What Works for Your Space.

One of the trickiest things about planning a kitchen is figuring out how you and your family want to function in it. You may want to cook while someone else preps, have your kids keep you company at an island while you work, create a baking station or give into the fact that at your parties, everyone will wind up in the kitchen. Different kitchen layout options will address these varying needs.

For functional cooking, most people prefer a work triangle. Basically, this means that the range, sink and fridge can form a triangle with ample counter space between them for work. A kitchen island can help with this counter space, and serve as a place to unload ingredients from the fridge for a recipe. It’s also a good idea to place your dishwasher close to the sink. And plan cabinet space for everyday items within reach of the dishwasher for easy unloading.

Here’s a look at four popular kitchen layouts that will help you envision your kitchen remodel.

open galley kitchen layout

1. Open Galley Kitchen Layout

The Lowdown

An open galley kitchen layout usually consists of a hardworking appliance wall and an island or peninsula on the other side of it. This is a small space solution that takes some thought. If you’re removing a wall from a typical galley kitchen in order to open things up, you’ll have to sacrifice some storage space for the open feeling. You will be giving a wall that could have been used for upper cabinetry. The good news is, today’s lower cabinets are much more efficient and smart, and can be outfitted to store everyday china and glassware.

How It Works

The open galley kitchen is often the only option in smaller spaces. They work very well for single people and for families where one person likes to cook with everyone close by but out of their way. There are ways to create convenient zones for multiple people. For example in this kitchen, the coffee pot and snacks could be placed on the back right. That way, one person can be cooking breakfast at the range while everyone else grabs their coffee. Also in this kitchen, the fridge is outside of the main galley but still within a work triangle. This makes for a nicer view of the kitchen from other spaces within the open plan. And again, people can serve themselves while staying out of the cook’s way.

Worth Noting 

Having an island or a peninsula that’s open to another room serves several purposes. It allows for socializing from the kitchen. You won’t feel closed-off. The entire space will feel larger, more open and airy. Also, it allows for seating a typical galley kitchen would not. Do not forget that the island can work very hard for you — trash pull-outs, the dishwasher, a microwave or microwave drawer and sink can all be worked into a beautiful custom island like this one.

U-Shaped kitchen layout

2. U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

The Lowdown

U-Shaped kitchen layouts are exactly what they sound like. The cabinetry and appliances form a U-shape around three sides. This layout is often used in smaller kitchens, perhaps those that have a smidge more space than an open galley kitchens do. In a larger  kitchen space, many of our clients opt to add an island in the middle of the U. But if you’re short on square footage, this is not a must.

How It Works

Cooks who want to keep everyone outside of their work zone love a small U-shaped kitchen. This is because those keeping them company tend to sit on the far side of a peninsula that makes up one side of the “U.” In a larger U-shaped kitchen with an island like this one in Marietta, there’s enough room for more than one person to work at the same time. If someone in the household loves to bake, consider creating a baking zone. In this kitchen, the left corner of the U would be a good spot for this because it’s away from the range.

Worth Noting 

In this kitchen, our clients liked the idea of an open peninsula with seating on two sides. This kept the area closest to the family room feeling open. Additionally, it allows the peninsula to serve as a counter-height kitchen table. The family can gather and face each other for casual meals. The island is for working and contains a microwave drawer.

U-shaped kitchen with fridge to the side

The Fridge

Similar to the open galley kitchen, we found room for the fridge outside of the main part of the kitchen. This design move is trending because people with open plans like a “less kitchen-y” look. Putting it out of view kept the main kitchen area balanced. Thanks to the island, the fridge is still close to the work triangle.

L-Shaped kitchen layout

3. L-Shaped Kitchen Layout 

The Lowdown

In an L-shaped kitchen layout, two walls of cabinetry and appliances meet in a corner to form the letter “L”. Even though it has one less side than a U-shaped layout, the L-shaped layout is often seen in larger kitchens, with a long run of counters and cabinets on each side. An island is a great asset in an L-shaped layout — it gives you another place to place ingredients, to prep and to add seating. It also helps to delineate the kitchen space within an open plan.

How It Works

The long runs of countertops provide the needed space around the range to work. And it’s conducive to two or more people working together in the kitchen. One can be at the range while the other preps, bakes or cleans up at the sink. A fridge can often fit into an L-shape with ease, without throwing off the overall look of the kitchen or hogging up too much of the counter space.

Worth Noting 

In this  colonial revival home in Sandy Springs, we created a focal point wall with the range. Also, this example shows a fridge within the L-shape. We concentrated the fridge, wall ovens and pantry cabinets off to the side in one bank of cabinets. As a bonus, the beautiful wood on the island catches the eye from the adjacent family room.

Pet food drawer in the toekick


We could not show you this kitchen without revealing the clever kitty station hidden in the toekick of the island! We placed it across from the dishwasher, so it’s out of the main work triangle.

Two-island kitchen layout

4. Two-Island Kitchen Layout

The Lowdown

This option has it all. And it’s usually used in extra-large kitchens. Sometimes when a kitchen is too big (a nice problem to have!) it can feel like vacant and cold, like a skating rink. A two-island strategy really helps make the scale of the space feel pleasing and comfortable. Two-island kitchen layout

How It Works

Often two islands serve two different purposes. One may be more of a workstation with a feature like a prep sink, a chef’s sink, a dishwasher and/or a stove. The other might be more open and considered the social island for gathering and eating.

Worth Noting 

n terms of working in the kitchen, it’s nice to place the island you’ll want to use for cooking within a work triangle. In this kitchen, both islands are workstations and have seating for socializing. Both are equidistant from the range, while one is closer to the wall ovens and the other is closer to the fridge. There’s a lot hiding here too. For example, the cabinet door to the left of the sink conceals a dishwasher.

Kitchen bar with hidden refrigerator drawers


This kitchen also has a handy zone that serves the adjacent outdoor kitchen and pool area. This bank of cabinets includes another sink, another dishwasher and pull-out fridge drawers.

To Sum Up

Choosing the right kitchen layout depends on the size of your kitchen, the adjacent rooms and the way you like to function. At Innovative Design + Build, our design team will ask the right questions to help you determine what will work best for you.