Kitchen Layouts

Nadia Hursky on October 15, 2011

Kitchen layouts are classified by their floor plan shape that they make- a single wall, galley, L-shape, U-shape and kitchen island. Often your kitchen layout is guided by architectural boundaries such as wall configurations, window and door placements. Kitchen layouts are the base for designing your new kitchen; you can add style, functionality and technology within your new kitchen layout.

Kitchen layouts are not a new concept. The 1950s introduced the concept of the work triangle in kitchen design. The classic work triangle model suggests placing the sink, refrigerator and cooktop in a layout that creates a triangle. Naturally, any three items make a triangle (albeit a narrow triangle on a single wall), so it is not so much about creating the triangle with these hubs, but rather making sure your triangle works best for you and your kitchen space.

Kitchen design has advanced a long way since then. Today, Blue Tea designers integrate new appliances, new technologies and the idea that people are using their kitchen spaces in a more harmonised and fluid manner.

Modern designers plan kitchens around different work zones:

Cooking zone Cooking and baking items
Preparation zone  Utensils and other items used for food preparation, such as oils and spices
Cleaning zone Cleaning items, household chemicals
Storage zone for consumable items  Food items are placed for easy access
Storage zone for non-consumable items  Often-used items, such as tableware, glass, plates, utensils, etc.

Items are stored and grouped in a logical manner, relating to their specific use. This allows for a task-oriented kitchen design.

Although Blue Tea designers are accustomed to design kitchens using this modern approach to ergonomics and design, kitchens still are classified by their basic floor plan shapes:

Single wall

Single Wall Kitchen

Single wall kitchens are efficient for small spaces. They are often contemporary design, and are used in open plan houses or smaller spaces.A table opposite the kitchen can function as extra bench space.Compact appliances may be useful to save space, such as a single drawer dishwasher or a two burner cooktop.

single wall kitchen

Galley Kitchen

Galley kitchens are two parallel work surfaces with a corridor dividing them in the middle. They are effective for one chef. Allow 1200mm from each bench surface and watch out for appliance doors opening into each other.

galley kitchen

L-Shape Kitchen

L-shape kitchens are a flexible design layout and it is easy to keep traffic out of the kitchen with this shape. If the space is big enough, you can allow for a kitchen island or table in this layout. Avoid placing the oven right in the corner as it is tight to open the oven door.

L shape kitchen plan

U-Shape Kitchen

U-shape kitchens provides plenty of storage and bench space. However, it has two corners which can be tricky storage areas. U-shape kitchens can be converted to a G-shape kitchen by utilising a breakfast bar at one end. The fridge is best placed at the opening of the kitchen to minimise traffic flow within the space.

U shape kitchen plan

Kitchen Island

Kitchen island designs are contemporary and open plan. They often require a generous floor plan. Kitchen islands can be added to a single wall or L-shape kitchen and can function as a casual dining/homework area too. Allow atleast 1000mm between the island and the bench-top behind it, 1100-1400mm is optimal.

island kitchen plan

Kitchen layouts are the foundation for designing your new kitchen. Kitchen layouts are guided by floor plan shapes and are often defined by existing spatial features. Some spaces allow for various kitchen layout options, while others are more restrictive. It may not always possible to change the floor plan of your kitchen, but it is possible to design a kitchen that works best for you in the space, both ergonomically and visually.



  1. Dan Parker says:

    Is there a lot of variation from the basic Kitchen Layouts ? I have a “G” shaped kitchen which you list as a variant of the U-shape. I agree that placing the fridge in the opening works well, because it is the most used kitchen appliance in my home with 3 kids.

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi Dan, the kitchen layouts listed are the basic plans for most kitchens. Kitchens do vary from these layouts but generally most kitchens use these plans as a base. It helps to think of how your kitchen is used on a daily basis when you are planning your design 🙂

  2. Lea Jones says:

    I have a medium sized L-shaped kitchen which I want to get renovated. One of the most important things I want to achieve with the new design is to maximize kitchen surfaces, as I find I don’t have enough space right now. The room is pretty much a square so I guess a U-shaped kitchen would give me the largest amount of extra surface…? Any advice? Thank you!

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi Lea, it really depends on the size of your room, a U-shape kitchen is of course going to make the space in the room smaller, but it will give you more bench-space and storage options. How about an L-shape with a mobile island, that way you gain the extra bench-space but you can push the island away when there is a lot of traffic in the kitchen 🙂

  3. Lea Jones says:

    Thanks for your quick response Nadiah. That sounds great, as long as it can be done…! I guess until you have all the measurements, it’s difficult to tell. Will give you a call to find out more about your kitchen designs.

    1. nadiah says:

      Thanks Lea look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Gladiz says:

    Thank you for these kitchen layout ideas! I just bought a new condo, and the kitchen is a U shape, and it needs to be completely redone. I was a bit lost as to how to set up the appliances to make for a good work-flow while cooking.

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi Gladiz
      For a U-shape kitchen remember to keep your fridge close to the exit, and to have bench-top space either side of your cooktop. Let me know if you need any further help down the track.

  5. Ottawa kitchens says:

    I have an L shaped kitchen and I really like the layout, however I would prefer a separate island so that I could clean or move around the room better. An island would make the kitchen look more open and I could install lighting over the island and a seating area.

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi, I have to agree with you there, islands really do open the space up and provide casual dining areas too 🙂 What are the trends like in Canada, are they similar to what I see in the US?