Determining the best kitchen layout is one of the first tasks of redesigning a kitchen. The best layout for your new kitchen will depend upon the size and shape of your pre existing space, as well as working out which layout best fits your criteria for storage, traffic and functionality. Kitchen layouts in Australia usually centre around an open plan design that is compatible with our love for entertaining and cooking.
The Best Kitchen Layout Designs
There are four common kitchen layout designs which most kitchens are based around. These are Single Wall, Galley, L Shape and U Shape. In some cases there is only one layout that will work. In other cases there is some degree of flexibility, with multiple layout options. The best layout will be the one that best meets your key design requirements. But as with all redesigns, some compromises are inevitable.
Single Wall Kitchen
This is the simplest kitchen layout and also one of the most aesthetically pleasing. All cabinetry is accommodated along a single wall in this design. It is ideal for small spaces (typically in apartments where space is at a premium). In open plan homes, this design maximises space and looks simple and uncluttered.
Despite the simplicity of a single wall design, this kitchen design is surprisingly flexible in its functioning and overall style. For example in a small space the whole kitchen lends itself to being hidden behind sliding doors. Because there are no opposing cabinets, a dining table can be accommodated in front of a single wall kitchen, creating an open plan design. If more storage or work space is important, instead of a traditional table, opt for a high bench-height table or bar with cupboards underneath. In a single wall kitchen the three points of the traditional work triangle (sink, cooktop and refrigerator) are positioned along a single wall. This makes for a significantly smaller work area.
- Efficient design for small spaces and apartments.
- Can easily be closed off and concealed behind doors.
- Make sure to leave enough space between the sink, cooktop and refrigerator.
Galley Kitchen Layout
One of the best kitchen layouts for a small space is the galley kitchen or ‘walk-through’ kitchen. Unlike the single wall kitchen layout, the galley kitchen can be designed with an efficient work triangle. The work triangle positions the sink, the refrigerator and the stove at a comfortable distance apart, making movement between these three points efficient.
The galley kitchen allows for a range of style possibilities. One possibility is to have a fairly balanced galley, where there is bench space and a mix of wall units on both sides. An asymmetrical galley layout may have the bench along one side and floor to ceiling cupboards along the length of the opposite side. In this scenario, the traditional work triangle is maintained, with the refrigerator placed on the side with wall cabinets.
The advantage of the galley kitchen is that it maximises the amount of storage and bench space available. This makes it an attractive layout in a small space. The galley kitchen can also be a more affordable option because it doesn’t have corner cupboards. A possible disadvantage of the galley style kitchen is if there are walls on both sides which prevent easy socialising or access across a bench/breakfast bar to a dining or eating area. To help prevent a cramped or closed-in feeling in a galley style kitchen, consider having one wall without wall cabinets and instead opt for open shelves.
- No corner cupboards may reduce cost.
- Good for small spaces and in open plan settings.
- May feel cramped when multiple people are in the space at the same time.
- If the kitchen has access from both ends, position the sink and cooktop on the same side to avoid collisions.
L- Shaped Kitchen Layout
The L shaped kitchen layout consists of two adjoining walls of cabinetry. This layout works really well in an open plan home because the kitchen cabinetry is located in a corner. The kitchen is open to the lounge and dining areas, allowing you to continue to socialise while cooking and preparing meals. It also allows for easy traffic flow.
Depending upon how the mix of wall and base cabinetry is combined, a different design feel can be achieved. For example one side can be designed as a wall of cupboards (with appliances hidden), with the adjacent side providing the bench and/or eating space.
The L shaped kitchen layout will often have a central dining table or kitchen island in the middle. An island provides more bench and preparation space and also functions as a breakfast bar.
- Ideal in open plan settings and for socialising.
- Multiple entrance and exit spaces allows for a free flow of traffic.
- Not ideal for multiple cooks to work at the same time.
U-Shaped Kitchen Layouts
In a large, busy home, the best kitchen layout is often U shaped kitchen layouts. The U shaped kitchen is very efficient and ergonomic and provides lots of storage space. It provides the most ideal work triangle, with three sides to accommodate the three points of the triangle: sink, refrigerator and cooktop. With the work triangle operating at the bottom of the U, the open end of the layout is reserved for an island or table. This allows traffic into the space without disrupting food preparation and cooking. If your kitchen is large, make sure you don’t make your work triangle too large. The maximum distance between two points should be no more than 2.7 metres and no less than 1.2 metres.
With three sides, a U shape is the best kitchen layout for providing plenty of work space and to make it easy for multiple people to cook and prepare food together. For those that don’t like clutter this shape also allows for appliances to be hidden away inside spacious corner cupboards.
- Most ideal work triangle.
- Great for multiple cooks and busy families.
- Integration of living and eating areas into the kitchen without disrupting traffic flow.
Kitchen Layout With Island: The Kitchen Island
The four kitchen layouts we have outlined are the most common designs for kitchens. Depending on the size of the space, some kitchen layouts, like the Single Wall and L Shape, can be significantly modified with the addition of a central island. An island provides more storage, extra preparation space, an eating area, and a work space for other non-kitchen related tasks. The central island is highly desirable in many kitchens today, because of its versatility. For an island to work it should be no smaller than 1 metre square, and ideally should be bigger, for it to be practical.
One of the most important steps in designing a kitchen is to first undertake an audit of your existing kitchen and make a list of the essential things you want your new kitchen to provide. This may include things such as providing more storage space or a design that better allows family interaction and socialising. These will be key in choosing the best kitchen layout for your home.
Exact Cabinet Makers have over 15 years experience designing kitchen layouts for all sorts of Australian homes. Are you redesigning your kitchen? Exact Cabinet Makers are located in Kilsyth in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. We provide an in-house 3D design service and kitchen layout planner, to help you design the best kitchen for your home. Find out more about our kitchen designs Melbourne.