Kitchen Layouts: Basic Shapes

The size and shape of your available space will be the top factors influencing your new kitchen layout. There are five basic kitchen layouts: L-Shape, G-Shape, U-Shape, One-Wall and Galley. The size and shape of the room will typically determine the layout. You can change this by adding on to your home or expanding your kitchen into an adjacent living area. Your lifestyle and budget will help you determine whether to work within your existing space or to expand.

long view of remodeled Washington DC kitchen shows original hot water heat radiator, low windows, maple floors and new white shaker cabinets with glass doors, center island and built in bookshelves.When redesigning your kitchen, the first thing to consider is the arrangement of your work zones: countertop spaces, major appliances and storage areas. Your goal is to arrange your layout to be highly functional, efficient and physically comfortable while staying within the bounds of your space. Lay out the space first, then select cabinets, appliances, countertops materials and other products. Would you like expert advice on how to lay out your kitchen? Call our Design Studio at 888-350-1242 with any questions. Our kitchen design service is always free. Although variations and deviations do exist, most kitchen layouts are based on one of the following models. One of our kitchen experts will be happy to prepare a personalized estimate of the cost of cabinets for a layout from the templates below. Get a quick quote


This layout is the most popular design and is appropriate for any size kitchen. The L-shaped kitchen includes work spaces on two adjoining walls running perpendicular to each other. Because no traffic lanes flow through the work area, this layout functions well for two cooks working at the same time. If space allows, it is possible to incorporate a center island that can double as a work space or eating area. The L-Shape kitchen typically opens into another room which makes a great layout for entertaining.


This kitchen layout is a variation of the U-Shape with the addition of a peninsula or a partial fourth wall. This design is becoming very popular because the fourth wall can be used for extra countertop and storage space. This shape is well suited to a large, open kitchen area because the fourth wall removes walking space and encloses the work stations. By adding a second sink, cooktop or range, this layout can easily accommodate two work triangles, allowing two cooks total independence. G-Shaped kitchens can feel small because of the fourth wall.


This kitchen is the most versatile layout for both large and small kitchens. The U-Shape design surrounds the cook on all sides and allows for ample countertop space and storage, while creating an efficient work triangle. This arrangement may also be a good choice if a separation is desired between the cooking space and the dining space. The U-Shape layout is ideal for creating large amounts of storage space. Depending on the size of your room, the U-Shape is flexible enough that it may accommodate both a peninsula and a center island.

One Wall

This layout is the answer for very small homes and condos. The work triangle flattens out by placing the sink between the range and the refrigerator for maximum efficiency. When using this layout, the refrigerator should be positioned so the door opens away from the kitchen sink to remove the possibility of a disturbance in workflow. Take into consideration whether you are right or left handed when placing the dishwasher and frequently accessed cabinets.


This kitchen layout is the most efficient layout for a narrow space. The galley kitchen consists of work spaces on two opposing walls with a single traffic lane between. Placing the range or cooktop on one side of the kitchen and the refrigerator and sink on the opposite wall allows for easy workflow. This design can be used so the kitchen opens to the rest of the house on one or both ends. The ideal width for a galley kitchen is 7 to 12 feet and works particularly well in a rectangular space. The Galley kitchen can be transformed by replacing a wall with an island or peninsula open to an adjacent room.


The kitchen island is a place to be creative, since no design formula is set in stone. The size will be determined by the amount of space you have and the countertop material you are using. At least 36”- 42” of space should surround the island on all sides to allow appliances such as the dishwasher and stove to be opened and closed. 42” is preferred. If you’re looking at a seamless solid surface countertop, especially granite, the size of the stone can be limiting. Granite and engineered stone slabs generally don’t exceed 120” by 72” and some are much smaller. An island is really a mini-kitchen and as such needs a well thought-out design. Will your island host an appliance, sink, trash, recycling, eating area and food prep area? Keep in mind that the island will without a doubt act as a gathering space when you entertain and this can greatly affect its utility for cooking.

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Related Topics

Want a great kitchen? Learn more with the topics below to help keep your remodel plan on time, on task and on budget.
Designing Your Kitchen
Design Principles
Design Elements
The Work Triangle
Open Kitchen Design