How to Plan a Successful Kitchen Layout

When it comes to designing your own kitchen layout, you have tons of decisions to make. We’ll walk you through major kitchen styles, design considerations, and how to nail the kitchen work triangle.

Types of Kitchens

Before you make any other decisions, you need to figure out what style of kitchen will work best for the way your family lives. Here are the major kitchen styles.

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Single Wall Kitchen

Just like the name suggests, these kitchens are typically used when space is a big concern or you’re going for a minimalist aesthetic. Single wall kitchens have been increasing in popularity in the last couple of years with the rise of micro apartments, tiny houses, and people choosing to live more modestly as they become aware of their environmental and economic footprint. Many people are even hiding single wall kitchens away with creative cabinetry and folding doors.

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Galley Kitchen

Originally created to maximize space on ships and eventually trains and planes, the galley style kitchen is designed to have the most efficient work triangle possible. A galley kitchen traditionally consists of two facing linear runs of cabinetry with appliances alternating sides.

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L-Shaped Kitchen

One of the most common kitchen layouts found in open plan homes is the L-shaped kitchen. Typically tucked into a corner at the back of a house, these kitchens are meant for entertaining and opening up to an adjacent dining area or great room. Oftentimes, people will add a kitchen island or work table to L-shaped kitchens to create an eat-in kitchen experience or provide more counter space for food prep.

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U-Shaped Kitchen

The U-shaped kitchen layout is often found in traditional homes where the kitchen is closed off from other rooms. These kitchens maximize every inch of usable space for storage. With the development of the Lazy Susan and other solutions, corners cabinets have become just as useful as those accessed from the front.

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Peninsula Kitchen

Peninsula style kitchens turn one arm of a U-shaped kitchen into an open counter for serving or dining. These also might be referred to as a breakfast bar or eat-in kitchen. Peninsula kitchens are designed into many open plan homes and are also common in older homes that have been renovated with the wall between the kitchen and dining room cut open or removed.

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Island Kitchen

Of course islands can be added to a variety of kitchen layouts. Kitchen islands have become staples of most modern homes because of the open floor plan. They typically contain either the kitchen sink and dishwasher or the cook-top and oven alongside a place for dining. An emerging kitchen island trend is employing a worktable with open storage below, rather than built-in cabinetry. Primarily a nod to the farmhouse kitchen of the early 1900s, worktables provide an opportunity for display alongside added counter space.

Modern kitchen Inspiration

All of our homes at Porch Light Plans have large kitchen islands designed for entertaining and modern open plan living. Whether L-shaped or single wall kitchens, the added island will no doubt become the gathering spot of the home for you and your loved ones.

Kitchen Work Triangle

When creating a custom home floor plan or working on planning a kitchen, you no doubt will have to wrestle with creating an efficient kitchen work triangle. The concept is simple: find the right spacing between refrigerator, sink, and range to minimize heavy lifting and bump-ins, especially with the inevitability of having too many cooks in the kitchen!


Kitchen Design Rules of Thumb

Typically, you’ll want to allow for 4’ to 5’ for your main kitchen aisle or circulation area. This 4’ to 5’ will allow you plus a second or third person to easily navigate the space without getting in each other’s way. It also provides ample room to open the oven and dishwasher without impeding the flow of traffic.

How to Lay Out Your Kitchen

First, consider the placement of your refrigerator. Most people find that having it bookend the kitchen works best. Be sure to plan a few extra inches between the side of your refrigerator and and the wall so that it can open fully. Manufacturers are constantly exploring new models with integral hinges that minimize the need for extra room around these large appliances, so if space is a big concern, consider a built-in model.

Once you’re refrigerator is located, you can think about the range and the sink. These appliances are most commonly located centered across from one another so that you can easily transfer freshly washed veggies or ready-to-strain pasta from one to the other by just turning around. Regardless of the shape of your kitchen, you will want to plan for at least a 24” wide section of counter on each side of the cook-top to give plenty of space for pots, pans, and food.

Don’t stress out. While there’s a little bit of science behind maximizing your kitchen work triangle, it shouldn’t be overthought. Just create a logical arrangement and don’t place appliances at opposite ends of a sprawling space!

Need some inspiration?

Check out this curated Pinterest board full of 2019 kitchen design trends.

Building a new home?

Work with us to customize the perfect kitchen in your dream home.

Caleb Amundson