A kitchen that has the right design will provide an efficient space that is comfortable and safe for all of the family.
Traditionally, kitchens were built for cooking, but nowadays they are designed with more than one purpose in mind. If the size of your room will allow it, you might want to consider combining the cooking areas with the dining room and have it all in one open space. It pays to learn about the most common kitchen layouts so you can choose the right one for your space.
Many families these days opt to have one central hub where everyone can sit together at mealtimes but can use the same room for different things such as watching TV, catching up with homework or browsing the Internet. You might not have a lot of space in your kitchen, but having somewhere to enjoy a glass of wine with friends will allow you to make something to eat and still be a part of the conversation.
Proper planning will pay off immensely when it comes to planning the most functional part of the room. A good kitchen layout will keep everything well organised and make the most of all the space available. But storage isn’t everything. You have to consider workflow. Workflow is an important factor, especially where there is an island or a few doorways to work around.
Carefully planning the layout of a new kitchen will help to avoid accidents in the future. The goal is to create a safe working environment and minimise the chances of people walking in the way of dangerous hotspots such as the cooker. Instead, you would want to direct the flow of traffic away from any hotspots towards more user-friendly areas such as a seating area or a drinks fridge. Careful planning will make sure that your kitchen is at safe space at all times for adults and children alike.
How to plan a kitchen layout
Finding the most suitable design for your kitchen will usually depend on the size and shape of your room. When designing the layout of the kitchen, it always helps to keep the working triangle in mind. The working triangle is a concept designed to make the kitchen work area as efficient as possible by minimising the amount of walking distance between the cooker, the fridge, and the sink. These three essential parts of the kitchen are placed on three points of an imaginary triangle.
The working triangle is effective in most kitchen layouts, however, if you would like to have the sink and all of the appliances along one wall you will have to “flatten” the triangle. Flattening the triangle means positioning all three points of a triangle into a straight line reducing the number of steps to walk in between.
Keep in mind you are free to choose whichever kitchen layout works for you nothing is set in stone. If the triangle is working well in your kitchen that’s great but don’t feel you have to be a slave to it, it’s just a helpful guide. Including a few extra steps into the design of your kitchen could be beneficial to you if you can include an additional element that you would like but would not fit into the design.
Is there an alternative to the working triangle?
Some kitchen designers feel that the triangle can be a bit too rigid and would rather specify certain zones instead. Blum’s dynamic space concept is based on laying out your kitchen as task zones which are utilised in a clockwise or anti-clockwise route.
Tasks such as making breakfast would have everything to do with making your breakfast all in one zone. Emptying the dishwasher would be in the crockery zone where plates and cups are stored nearby. The food preparation zone would have all of the kitchen utensils stored in a drawer or cupboard close together with a bin nearby. Pots, pans, chopping boards as well as cooking oil and spices would all be in the food preparation zone. Cleaning utensils such as clothes and sponges would be kept close to the sink for cleaning.
By having everything close to hand in each specific zone, you can create the best workflow for your kitchen.
How can I control the flow of people in a kitchen?
Having enough workspace in the kitchen is crucial, but managing the movement of people around the kitchen space needs to careful planning too. We want to aim for having a kitchen that flows smoothly and avoid having children get in the way of any danger spots, and guests walking in front of you while you are trying to cook. It might be a good idea to place the fridge at the threshold so children can help themselves to drinks and snacks without getting in your way. In an open space, you will want to make sure that the route from the entrance to the garden does not have any obstructions in the way. Have a think about how you are going to direct the flow of your guests to the seating areas in the garden without them getting in your way.
An island with bar stools along one side can act as a shield for the cook as well as giving guests a place to sit and out of harm’s way. Consider using two islands if you have a large enough space. Having two islands will give you opportunities to create multiple traffic flow possibilities.
Consider changing the décor to distinguish between the dining area, lounge and cooking area. This can be achieved by using different coloured paints, different floor finishes and different lighting in each different zone.
There are other options available to you to help create different zones and open space. Strategically placing a wall or a low-level room divider such as storage unit will help to create separate areas in an open space. Using a low-level wall is effective but needs to be carefully planned, so it does not block out the light. Many homeowners are successfully including low-level walls into open plan designs to create partitions without blocking out the light.
My kitchen isn’t a standard shape – what do I do?
We tend to think kitchens are either rectangle or cube –shaped. The reality is kitchens come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have sloping ceilings while others may look like a glass box with nowhere to hang wall units. Some kitchens have tricky features that will need to be worked around such as multiple entrance doors or pillars. A kitchen designer with plenty of experience will have had to deal with these types of problems in the past so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.
In a lot of cases it’s simply not possible to remove structural pillars, but in some cases, you can move them. Even by moving a pillar by half a metre can have a significant impact in some rooms. Sometimes you can convert a negative feature into a positive feature if you just use some imagination. An example would be to convert a pillar into an architectural feature or an island.
It’s relatively easy to split L-shaped and T-shaped rooms into different zones, dedicating one half to storage or dining and the other half for working kitchen.
If you have bought or are considering buying a property which has curved walls it usually because you like its unique style. Make the most of its unique features with cabinets that follow the curves. It will mean having to pay out more for bespoke kitchen furniture for you may not need a lot of it to create a dramatic effect.
Choose the best kitchen layout for you
Galley kitchen layout
What is it? Aptly named after a ship’s small kitchen space, the classic galley has one row of units and the double galley has two parallel runs of units that form one central corridor in which to work.
Floor plan of a galley kitchen
Why choose this layout? The Galley kitchen layout is the perfect layout for narrow rooms but its often used in many open-plan spaces as well. The way the galley layout is used in open spaces is with the use of long islands that run parallel with the kitchen units across one wall. If planned correctly the galley kitchen layout can be exceptionally functional besides being long and narrow in most cases.
Ideally, you should try to keep the wet area and the cooking zone separate with a length of worktop in between. The length of the worktop in between the cooking zone and the wet area should be roughly 3 metres long.
You will want to aim for a minimum distance of 1.2 metres between facing doors and try to implement a triangular cooking zone with the sink and hob on one side and the fridge on the opposite side. If space is not an issue, try to avoid having tall units. Tall units can give the illusion of making the kitchen look narrower than it is. For the same reason, choose pale coloured paints to help keep the room bright, light and airy.
Another tip is to try to avoid installing too many wall cupboards. By having too many cupboards on the walls, your kitchen can feel smaller and look cluttered.
U-shaped kitchen layout
What is it? As the name suggests, this layout is comprised of units which run around three walls in the kitchen in a U shape.
U-shaped kitchen floor plan
Why choose it? The U-shaped layout is extremely practical because you can use the center for cooking while having the fridge and the sink at either end of the U that go hand in hand to create the perfect working triangle. The U-shape layout is ideal for those who want plenty of workspace.
Design tips when choosing a worktop for such a large area, try and pick something striking which will enhance the look of the kitchen. You may want to consider materials such as Corian, which is a solid surface and can sweep around corners seamlessly. If you have a room that is quite compact, you want to aim for having 2 metres in the centre. Another way to get more out of a small room is to ask your supplier if it is possible to have reduced depth worktops and units. Not all suppliers can provide reduced depth worktops and units, but it’s worth asking. If you have a larger room, you could consider having a large table and chairs or even an island at the centre of the U.
If you have an open plan room and you do quite a lot of entertaining, it might be a good idea to have the bulk of your kitchen designed as a U-shaped island. Another option would be to create a G shape with a peninsula joined to one of the walls.
L shape kitchen layout
What is it? The L-shaped layout is a truly versatile design. It is comprised of two runs of cabinets that run along adjacent walls at right angles.
L shape kitchen floor plan
Why choose it? The L-shaped layout will allow you to create the ultimate working triangle. You can have the cooker at one end of the L, the hob on the other and the sink in the middle. The L-shaped layout can be a bit trickier to work with, but it can feel more open.
When installing a new kitchen using the L-shaped layout, you have to make sure that there is enough space in between each zone. It might be worth considering installing a bank of built-in appliances at one end, which would give it a streamlined effect not to mention ease-of-use.
Kitchen designers design the layout of kitchens with ergonomics in mind. Most kitchen designers agree that the best ergonomic placing for the hob is on one wall, the fridge, and the sink on the other. Be sure to check that there is enough workspace between these elements. The L-shaped kitchen layout is an efficient layout for one cook, but two cooks are likely to get in each other’s way. Installing an extra sink could make the L-shaped layout more efficient if two cooks are going to be working together in the kitchen. Another little suggestion could be to place a small dining table at the side if there is enough space.
Island kitchen layout
What is it? The Island kitchen layout is one of the most popular kitchen layouts of the last decade. As the name suggests, there is an island in the centre of the room, and the surrounding walls have the kitchen units and worktops.
Island kitchen floor plan
Why choose the island layout? The island layout is best suited to larger spaces. The island itself can be used in a variety of ways such as somewhere to prep, cook and even entertain. Having an island in the kitchen can reduce the amount of legwork between workstations. If it is a large room, an island can make the most of some of the unused space.
A hob, sink, dishwasher, wine cooler, and recycling bin should easily fit into an island layout as well as leaving plenty of room left over for storage. There should be at least 1 metre in between the kitchen cabinets and the island. Having at least one metre in between the island and the cabinets will ensure you can open the drawers and doors. You might want to consider adding a worktop overhang, which would allow you to create a breakfast bar seating area.
You want your kitchen to be as efficient as possible. To cut down the amount of time it takes moving from one point to another, it’s always a good idea to have all of your working elements on one side of your island. By having all of the elements on one side, you can avoid walking around in circles and becoming irritated.
One of the most important steps in creating the perfect kitchen is getting the layout just how you want it.