Understanding The 6 Basic Kitchen Layouts

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

You’ll learn all about the most popular kitchen layouts and the pros and cons of each. All of them can work for a functional and beautiful space 


6 Most Popular Kitchen Layouts

Hammers start swinging next week in our kitchen and so my brain is a one track mind right now.

Typically it’s one track, but it’s focused on things like true crime or Taco Bell. Which sounds like the name of a killer true crime podcast.

I digress.

The “Work Triangle” in a Kitchen

Although unplanned, I did a deep dive into the kitchen work triangle in this post, so if you’d like to understand the basics and why/how it all works in different kitchen layouts, it’s a great post that is super helpful. Even full of diagrams if you’re a visual learner!

In the TL;DR version, the work triangle is the space between where you get your food (fridge), where you prepare your food (sink/countertop), and where you cook your food (range).

Now let’s talk about the basic kitchen layouts that you could choose in your own home.

L-Shaped Kitchen

white L shaped kitchen with pink oven and pink retro fridge
L-shaped kitchen with retro appliances via HGTV

The L-shaped kitchen design plan is one of the most popular kitchen designs. This layout has two adjacent walls that form an L shape. The countertops, cabinets, and cooking equipment are stored on both walls, with the other two neighboring walls open.


  • Potential increase of countertop space
  • Easier for additional seating


  • Blind corner cabinets may be annoying
  • Kitchen triangle may be far apart

U-shaped Kitchen

Similar to an L-shaped kitchen is the U-shaped kitchen. Like L-shaped kitchens, all countertops, cabinets, and cooking equipment are stored on all three walls. Depending on the size of your kitchen space, U-shaped kitchens will typically have more countertop space than an L-shaped kitchen but less than a kitchen with a large island.

U shaped kitchen with sage green lower cabinets and open wood shelves
U-shaped kitchen layout via Heartbeet Kitchen

The U-shaped kitchen is especially good if you have a larger kitchen. Sometimes a U-shaped in a smaller kitchen will feel cramped and difficult to work with or access your cabinets.


  • Lots of cabinets
  • Good workflow with the kitchen triangle
  • Great for multiple people in a kitchen at once


  • Usually nowhere to add seating
  • May feel boxed in
  • Requires a considerable amount of room

Galley Kitchen

A galley kitchen is long and narrow. In a galley kitchen design, you have two walls of cabinets that face each other with your workspace in between.

galley kitchen with sage green cabinets and wood window trim and french door
Galley kitchen layout via Apartment Therapy

This is the design that will be in our second flip house and our first time designing a galley kitchen, but I’m excited to see how it ends up working out!

If your home is smaller or a shotgun-style house where it’s narrow and long, the galley kitchen can be an efficient way to have a functional working kitchen. Ideally, your walls of cabinets would have at least 7 feet of space in between them but can have up to 12 feet in larger kitchens.


  • Easy to move around workspace
  • Kitchen triangle is optimal here


  • May feel cramped or closed in if your space between the cabinets is too narrow
  • Not a lot of area for more than one or two people to be in the space at once

One-Wall Kitchen

A one-wall kitchen is exactly what it sounds like – the entire kitchen, including appliances, cabinets, and countertops, is arrayed along one wall.

The one wall kitchen is great if you have a substantial home because it allows you to move freely from one end to the other but still have the rest of the kitchen open to the rest of the house, which makes it easy for more of a connection from the kitchen to the rest of the home.

one wall modern kitchen with wood flat panel cabinets
Modern one wall kitchen layout via Apartment Therapy

The beauty of a one-wall kitchen is it can also work in smaller homes! It would be all the benefits, just on a smaller scale. It’s what we did at our first flip house and it was stunning!


  • Vast open space with plenty of cabinets and countertops
  • Good layout if you have a large family or entertain frequently
  • Excellent flow of traffic/workspace
  • Simple, minimal design


  • Can feel cramped if there is too much on one wall and your home is small
  • No option for a true kitchen triangle
  • May have fewer cabinets and counter space

Island Kitchen

This is the kitchen we will be creating in our own home, and I’m so very excited! I’ve always dreamt of a kitchen with a large island that you can scoot a seat up to or just have extra prep space.

The island kitchen is also popular with homes that boast an open floor plan.

white upper cabinets and black kitchen island with leather barstools and rattan pendants

In our flip house, we did technically a one-wall kitchen, but we had a large island for added seating.


  • Great for extra seating
  • Great for entertaining
  • Adds more prep space/counter space


  • Home/kitchen must be big enough for an island to work

Peninsula Kitchen

In our current kitchen, we have the peninsula.

SW white upper cabinets Sherwin Williams Peppercorn lower kitchen cabinets

Our peninsula isn’t functional because the countertop has no overhang, so it’s not like we could pull up stools to enjoy it.

However, the peninsula kitchen may be a good option if you don’t have the space to add a whole island.

A peninsula kitchen is when you have a set of cabinets that attaches to a wall of cabinets and turns 90 degrees.

If your kitchen is small or you don’t have an open concept in your space, adding a peninsula offers the opportunity to have a smaller kitchen but still have the storage, countertop space, and workspace you need. It will also be inviting for family or guests to have them in the kitchen while you’re working or cooking.


  • Adds extra counter space to an existing kitchen design
  • Make your small kitchen feel much larger
  • Offers counter space for work, prep, or entertaining similar to an island


  • Can create difficult angles to reach things
  • May get in the way of appliances or other items in your space

Which of the Kitchen Layouts is Best?

As usual, there is nothing that will dictate what is “best” other than your own needs and your family’s needs. Your home and space will also dictate what layout is best as well.

For example, in our current home with a wall between our living room and kitchen, the best chance of us getting the space we needed was the peninsula kitchen. However, once we take the wall down and add a steel beam, we will have an open concept, and an island kitchen makes sense.

If you have a narrow home or a narrow kitchen, a galley kitchen or a one-wall kitchen may be your best solution.

When developing your kitchen plan, there are several variables to consider. Make sure you’re using your kitchen space effectively by creating a design that offers adequate storage, countertop space, working areas, and traffic flow before settling on a design.

Happy kitchen planning!

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