When remodeling a kitchen, deciding on the right design layout is crucial. After all, the exact location of your various countertops and appliances will dictate just how smoothly you can cook, clean up, and chat with your guests while rinsing the arugula.
You probably have a dream kitchen already built in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for your space. That’s why, in the latest installment of our Dream Kitchen Remodeling Guide, we highlight the various kitchen design layouts you should consider, as well as their pros and cons.
For starters: “The size of the kitchen will largely determine the layout, since many kitchen functions require certain amounts of space around them to be the most efficient,” explains Nancy Vayo, senior interior design leader for Ikea North America.
But plenty more will dictate the best kitchen layout for your space. Here’s how to choose which one’s right for you, based on your space, tastes, and more.
Good for: Lovers of efficiency and those in possession of some serious space
That shouldn’t come as a shock. An island can ensure a strong and efficient work triangle if it contains your sink, cooking unit, or refrigerator. Plus, it can provide an extra surface for dining, doing homework, or making cocktails.
Yet the key word is space. The minimum recommended size for an island is 40 square inches, plus a clearance zone of 31.5 inches. Don’t have the square footage to accommodate that? Choose a less supersized option.
2. Kitchen peninsula
Good for: Island wannabes lacking the square footage
As stated above, you need a hella lot of space to pull off a workhorse kitchen island. A more realistic option for many people is what’s known as a peninsula-style kitchen. You still get an island (sort of). It’s just connected to a wall, which makes it a peninsula.
“This is perfect for homes without enough room to allow for a decent-sized kitchen island and the necessary circulation around it,” explains Carib Daniel Martin, a residential architect near Washington, DC. “A peninsula provides stool space and an open feel in a more space-efficient layout.”
3. Single-sided kitchen
Good for: Narrow spaces
The single-sided kitchen is a straight run designed along just one wall.
“This solution is most suitable for narrow spaces and small households, where only one, or a maximum of two, people work in the kitchen at a time,” says Vayo. “With all appliances and cabinets against one wall, the work triangle is reduced to a straight line.”
And if the height of the room permits, upper cabinets or open shelving can be designed to go to the ceiling and make the most of every last bit of space.
4. Galley kitchen
Good for: People who are limited in space but full of ambition
You love to cook and spend hours in the kitchen, yet have a narrow space to do so, with windows, or even doors, situated on the short walls of the room. Don’t despair—there’s still a layout for you. It’s called a double-sided (aka galley) kitchen, in which work surfaces and storage space line both sides of your space.
Still, you’ll need to resist the urge to cram as much as you can into this layout. For instance, you’ll need to plan a minimum of 47 inches between opposite kitchen units so that doors and drawers can be opened freely from both sides at a time, says Vayo.
5. L-shaped layout
Good for: Easygoing entertainers who go with the flow
“The L-shaped kitchen layout works best for those who are wanting to merge their dining table with their kitchen area,” says Martin. “You can use this to create a separate eat-in kitchen or as a part of an open living area.”
How to choose a kitchen design layout you’ll love
Before you get locked into a kitchen layout, experts suggest you look beyond available space and consider these crucial points, too.
Appliances: “Many remodeling guides suggest that choosing your kitchen layout and cabinetry should be completed before you choose your appliances, but this may not be the best option for everyone,” notes Jason Larson, founder and CEO of Lars Remodel and Design in the San Diego area.
Usage: Be honest about how you currently use your kitchen—and how you want to use your new space. Is it the heart of your home where your family often hangs out, or your solitary retreat? Are you all about dishes that take hours to prepare? Or are you more of a microwave chef?
For instance, if your goal is to create a chef’s paradise, you may sacrifice seating space to make room for large and luxe range appliances.
On the other hand, if your intent is to create a family gathering space, room to comfortably hang out will take precedence over where to put your stove.
Flexibility: Finally, if you’re remodeling an existing kitchen, “don’t get hung up on the current locations of your fixtures and appliances,” says Martin. “In the overall budget of the project, the cost to relocate these items is minimal, but the impact on the new design can be transformational.”
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