All you need to know about kitchen layouts

All you need to know about kitchen layouts

Posted by Derek

All you need to know about kitchen layouts


Just imagine it. Your kitchen but with the cooker, sink, toaster, and fridge all crammed into one corner. The microwave is above the sink, and the cutlery is all tucked away in the bottom drawer.

Not only would such a kitchen look terrible, but from a practical perspective, working in such a space would be a nightmare, especially with more than one person. Imagine you've got children in the house, and this kitchen becomes unsafe, with toasters near sinks and easy access to sharp knives.

Now, a confession. This example is deliberately provocative; we haven't (yet) heard of anyone who has managed to squeeze all their kitchen into one corner and put knives in the reach of children. Although there are far too many examples of people who have spent little to no time planning their kitchen, they always regret it! The point is to emphasise that a poor kitchen layout can drastically reduce your kitchen's practicality, safety, and enjoyment. 

So, if you want to learn some essential but important tips on planning your kitchen layout properly, you've come to the right place.

This article will cover the following:

  • the key considerations when planning your layout
  • the benefits of a thoughtful design, and
  • the four main kitchen layouts (L-shaped, U-shaped, Galley, and Island)


Open plan kitchen


The Planning Stage

Before you even get close to weighing up the pros and cons of an L- versus U-shaped kitchen, there are some critical issues you need to consider that will inform your decision. Some may seem obvious, but getting the basics right regarding your kitchen layout is essential.


This will be where all your foot traffic into the kitchen will originate, so it's essential to think about how you want this traffic to "flow". Most modern kitchens are multifunctional, with different cooking, dining, and entertaining areas. Having your guests walk past you through the cooking area makes little sense, so most people opt to have the dining area closest to the door.

You may have more flexibility regarding entrances for kitchens with two doors, but you'll still want to minimise traffic flow through the cooking area, so it's best to keep cookers central and away from the doors.


Windows let in lots of light, so it's wise to make the most of this by placing the sink or food prep area near them, making it easier to work in the kitchen.

If your kitchen is naturally quite a dark room, now may be the right time to consider adding another window, or even a skylight, to let natural light flood in.

Finally, consider how easily you'll be able to open and close your windows if you put a row of cabinets in front of them.

Supporting Walls and Pillars

Before getting carried away with a radical new kitchen layout that does away with that pesky pillar or knocks through a wall, you must check whether these structures support the upper part of the house.

Supporting walls or pillars can sometimes be moved at the expense of time and money. Usually, the best (or at least cheapest) option is to incorporate the supporting structure into your layout and use it to your advantage by turning it into an attractive design feature.

For example, a pillar could be a natural divider between the cooking and dining areas.

The Benefits of a Great Kitchen Layout

As hinted at in the introduction, there are three main benefits of a well-thought-out kitchen layout: safety, practicality, and style.


Your first concern regarding your family is keeping them safe, which is why it pays to take the time to plan your kitchen layout appropriately to keep everyone out of harm's way.


You don't want to constantly trip over one another or cover unnecessarily large distances when cooking meals with your partner. You want the crockery and cutlery handy at mealtimes and the food prep area right next to the cooker. Getting these little details right makes your kitchen an enjoyable place to work rather than a nuisance.


A well-laid-out kitchen always looks great. And no matter what size of kitchen you have to work with, choosing the proper layout can be the difference between making the most of what you've got and squandering the space.

The 4 Main Kitchen Layouts

When choosing the kitchen layout for your unique home, nothing is set in stone, and you should always look for ways to make the space your own. Sometimes this involves going slightly off-piste with your layout. However, the four configurations discussed below are tried and tested favourites for a reason; if you pick the right one for your kitchen, they guarantee excellent results.

Take your time to think them through. Then, once you have a firm idea for the layout, check out our ultimate guide to designing your kitchen to find out how to make it look stunning.

Before we go any further, the " Triangle " principle is a vital kitchen design principle. This refers to the much-used method of placing the cooker, sink, and fridge at the three points of an imaginary triangle, intending to appropriate distance between them to form a functional working area.

The L-shaped Layout

This layout involves running a row of cabinets along two adjacent kitchen walls, forming an L-shape. The simplicity of this layout is an attractive feature, and it can be beneficial in long, narrow kitchens as it leaves one long side completely free of cabinets.

You also have the flexibility to experiment with different configurations of the triangle principle.

Try to use the free wall well, lest it is space wasted. This could involve installing some open shelving for storage or a kitchen table. A narrow breakfast bar with stools might be a better option if the space is tight.

The U-shaped Layout

Building on the L-shape, the U-shaped layout adds another row of cabinets along the opposite long wall, with the benefit of considerably more worktop and storage space. You can also introduce enough space for more kitchen utensils, such as a washing machine and dishwasher.

You can also use the triangle principle to divide the space nicely into three evenly spaced areas, all within easy reach of each other.

A U-shape won't work in every kitchen, particularly narrow ones where you can squeeze the floor space to very little, making the kitchen hard to move around. You'll also have to consider installing pull-out drawers in the corner cabinets to ensure no wasted spaces.

Finally, beware of full-height cabinets in a U-shaped kitchen, as these can sometimes overcrowd the room and make it feel cramped.

The Galley Layout

Imagine the U-shape without the smaller end, and you have the double Galley layout. Take away one of the long sides, leaving just a single row of cabinets, and you have the single Galley.

This layout is handy in tiny kitchens, providing all the workspace you need in a compact unit. A single Galley may involve collapsing the triangle, but you can't go wrong with a sink-cooker-fridge set-up.

The Galley approach can work just as well in a larger kitchen, leaving plenty of floor space for a large dining table at one end, sectioning the room into cooking and dining areas.

The Island Layout

Finally, the island layout involves incorporating an island into your kitchen and can be added to various configurations.

While it may seem you need a large kitchen to have an island, this isn't the case. Islands don't have to be big bulky brutes; many slimline and more miniature versions can bring extra worktop and storage space to any sized kitchen.

If you go for an island, consider placing it as a room divider between the cooking and dining/entertaining areas. Some well-placed stools will attract your dinner guests to relax with a glass of wine on one side while you prepare the food on the other.


 Open plan kitchen image


The Final Say

We hope you've found this guide to kitchen layouts functional. Choosing the design is arguably the most crucial stage in creating your new kitchen, so take your time to decide what is right for you.

HiF Kitchens Brand Partners

HiF Kitchens using our years of experience are able to offer our customers the best kitchen, appliances, worktops and consumables in Fife, Scotland.

We work with PWS, Burbidge, Blanco, Indesit, Siemens and Hotpoint to provide our customers the very best service.