A big part of the Kitchen Design process is deciding on the layout you will present to your client.

While certain layouts are more popular than others, the Kitchen Designer should be aware of all the basic Kitchen layouts along with their pros and cons.

Read on to become familiar with different Kitchen layouts to help you decide what would work best for your client’s space.

I have broken down Kitchen layouts into three categories:

  • Common Layouts
  • Island Layouts
  • Additional Layouts

These three categories will cover most of the layouts you will come across when designing Kitchens.

All of these layouts are starting points, and as you gain experience you will be able to tweak them to meet the needs of your individual clients and produce unique functional designs.

Let’s have a look at these layouts.

Common Layouts

There are some common layouts that show up in home designs again and again.

The common layouts in Kitchen design are:

  • The One Wall Kitchen Layout
  • The Corridor Kitchen Layout
  • The L-Shaped Kitchen Layout
  • The U-Shaped Kitchen Layout
The One Wall Kitchen
One wall kitchen layout
One Wall Kitchen

The One-Wall or Straight Run layout has all  the cabinets and appliances lined up against one wall.

It is a design that is ideal for a small space such as a studio apartment or a secondary kitchen in the basement. 

With all the work centers stretch along a single wall the cook’s back is towards their guests, so it is not a very social layout.

However, it is a good design for an open plan feel when you don’t have much space and is a basic layout to consider for those situations.

The Corridor Kitchen
Corridor Kitchen layout
Corridor Kitchen

The corridor Kitchen layout is also referred to as a two-wall, galley or a pullman Kitchen.

It is a layout were two runs of cabinets are opposite each other usually against two walls.

It can be a very efficient working arrangement for a single cook since all  the work zones are within easy reach.

Often this layout is closed off by walls, not allowing the cook to socialize with guests, but there are homeowners that prefer to go it alone. so this could be a layout option for them.

The L-Shaped Kitchen
L-shaped kitchen layout
L-Shaped Kitchen

The L-Shaped layout has cabinets on two walls at a right angle to each other.

A natural work triangle is produced in this layout with appliances arranged on the two walls for optimum food flow.

There is a generous amount of continuous countertop in this layout, but it does produce a corner that needs to be addressed to make that area functional.

The layout allows for a table to be placed in the room for an eat-in kitchen which is desirable for some homeowners, especially those with small children that would prefer a table rather than a high island counter for informal dining.

The U-Shaped Kitchen
U-shaped kitchen layout
U-Shaped Kitchen

The U-Shaped Kitchen was the layout deemed the most ergonomic and functional when Kitchen design was first studied.

Cabinets are positioned around 3 walls with a continuous run of countertop, allowing a single cook to efficiently move within the space.

This layout produces 2 corners that can produce challenges when developing a functional design.

Another con of this layout is if guests hang out in the kitchen they can often get in the way of the cook.

Since so many kitchens of the past were designed in a U-shape, you will come across them a lot when working on renovations.

If the design scope is to keep the layout, your job as the Kitchen Designer is to make the layout as functional as possible while updating it aesthetically.

Island Layouts

Islands are the number one asked for element by homeowners for their Kitchens.

There are a number of popular Kitchen island layouts you should be familiar with.

  • One Wall with Island Layout
  • L-Shaped with Island Layout
  • U-Shaped with Island Layout
  • Double Island Layout
One Wall with Island Layout
One wall with island kitchen layout
One Wall with Island Kitchen

The One wall with Island layout, consisting of a single back wall of cabinetry and an oversized island, is a desirable modern layout.

This layout is really an updated version of the enclosed Galley Kitchen.

It is great for an open concept space with the island defining the Kitchen.

The openness of the space makes this layout a very social one and it can be designed to accommodate two cooks.

This is a good layout to look to when renovating enclosed galley Kitchens to open them up to the rest of the living space.

L-Shaped with Island Layout
L-Shaped with island kitchen
L-Shaped with Island Kitchen

The L-shaped with an island is the modern version of the U-shaped Kitchen.

The island defines the Kitchen space and this layout has become one of the most popular Kitchen layouts for new home construction and renovations when the walls come down.

The island produces a very social Kitchen space by providing a place for guests to perch outside of the working zones and still allows the cook to participate in the action occurring in the rest of the living space.

This is most likely going to be a Kitchen layout that you will work with the most.

Becoming an expert in this type of design will really help to further your career as a Professional Kitchen Designer.

U-Shaped with Island Layout
U-shaped kitchen with center island
U-Shaped with Island Kitchen

The U-Shape with an island Kitchen layout is one that is gaining in popularity as home sizes increase.

It requires a large space to ensure that appropriate clearances are met for the design.

Never try to squeeze an island into a U-shaped Kitchen if the minimum aisle clearances cannot be met.

Also be aware that the poor placement of island can impede access to key  appliances.

This layout is an ideal plan for a Kitchen that needs to accommodate multiple cooks.

The potential downfalls of this layout is that it can be a very expensive layout to produce due to the amount of product needed to fill the space.

Keep this in mind as you sketch ideas for your client.

Double Island Layout
Kitchen layout with two islands
Double Island Kitchen

Again, as homes and Kitchen spaces become larger, a double island design could be the solution to a functional layout.

The double island layout is inspired by commercial Kitchen design and it is an excellent solution for a multiple cook Kitchen.

It is a great design for homes where specialty cooking or baking is happening, since it allows for multiple workstations.

This layout provides a Wow factor in an open plan space and shows a lot of creativity on the part of the Kitchen Designer.

If you decide to present a double island option to your clients, make sure you think through the different activities that are proposed for the space and that the space can accommodate them.

Additional Layouts

There are a few additional layouts that you will want to be familiar with.

They include:

  • The Peninsula Layout
  • The Double L-Shaped Layout
  • The G-Shaped Layout
The Peninsula Layout
Kitchen with a peninsula
Peninsula Kitchen

A peninsula Kitchen is where one of the cabinet runs protrudes from a wall.

Often this Kitchen layout is specified when a wall is removed between the Kitchen and the living space, but there is not enough room for an island.

The peninsula counter is accessible from both sides giving options to extend the depth of the counter or to add a dining bar.

The peninsula can define the kitchen and direct traffic away from the cook and can be a great way to modernize a Kitchen in an older home.

The Double L-Shaped Layout
Kitchen with two L-shapes perpendicular to each other
Double L-Shaped Kitchen

Another alternative Kitchen layout is the double L-Shaped.

It places two L-shaped cabinet runs opposite each other.

This layout is a good alternative design to a U-Shaped design and can more easily accommodate two cooks.

The design allows for two distinct work zones with ample countertop and storage for each cook.

A downside can be that household traffic tends to cut through the middle of this Kitchen design.

Do consider this layout however if you are renovating an older home.

I could be the layout that really modernizes the space and keeps renovation costs in check!

The G-Shaped Layout
Kitchen design as a G-shape
G-Shaped Kitchen

This last additional shaped layout is the G-shaped Kitchen.

It is a U-Shaped plan with an extra run of countertop, typically in the form of a peninsula.

This is a design that can provide additional countertop and storage when there is no room for an island.

The design can allow for a continuous flow of countertop between workstations.

This layout can feel enclosed since it only allows for one way in and out of the Kitchen.

Watch the placement of the refrigerator in this layout since you do not want to block that entrance, causing traffic jams.

I recommend you study these layouts before you begin inventing your own.

They were developed over time and have been found to work in most situations. 

I’d love to hear what your favorite layout to work with is or if you have “invented” a unique layout for a client.

Please leave me a comment below.

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Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

2 Comments on “Choosing the Perfect Layout for your Client’s Kitchen

  1. I’m seriously considering a kitchen remodeling service because our family has outgrown the current layout, and it’s become a bit of a traffic jam during meal prep and family gatherings. I’m hoping for a more open and functional kitchen that fosters a better flow and creates a more inviting space for us to enjoy quality time together. We love your tip on how a studio apartment or a second kitchen in the basement are two examples of small spaces that would benefit from the One-Wall or Straight Run arrangement, which has all the cupboards and equipment lined up against one wall.

    • Hi Lily,
      Having a functional kitchen can be a life changer for a household. Work with your designer to get the layout just right for your space. Good luck with your renovation.

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