Kitchen layouts

When choosing the layout of a kitchen it is important to consider which parts of the kitchen you will be using the most, and the distance between them. When preparing meals you will often have to move between storage areas such as kitchen cupboards, fridges and freezers and preparation areas such as the fridge before moving to cooking areas by the hob, oven or microwave. Thus there are three main locations. When preparing a plan of the kitchen's layout these three areas can be considered as points on a triangle, the 'work triangle'. Ideally there will be no obstructions between these points on the triangle, thus providing an uninterrupted route between food storage, preparation, cooking and serving areas.

Most traditional kitchens are based on four main kitchen layouts: galley, corridor, L-shaped or U-shaped. The position of the windows and doors usually determines the choice of layout.

Galley kitchen

This is a single corridor arrangement of cooker/hob/oven, sink and fridge which tends to be seen in small kitchens with some work top space (DLF, 1996). Benefits of this type of kitchen are that items can be slid along the worktop without the need to carry them across the kitchen, and that two people can work side by side (DLF, 1996), (Howie, 1972).

However, a galley layout does not allow a work triangle of movement from storage to preparing and cooking areas so the total distances you travel in your kitchen may be further than those required by other layouts (DLF, 1996). Think about where you will be eating your food and how you will transport the food there, you may require space for the use of a kitchen trolley to transport food or drinks to another room (Goldsmith, 1984).

Corridor kitchen

A corridor kitchen has two facing worktops. This format is often seen in smaller kitchens and can incorporate the work triangle.

If you require support when walking or for standing this type of layout can be the most helpful providing the distance between the parallel worktops is not over 1200mm wide (Howie, 1972), (Goldsmith, 1984). However consider the amount of walking and carrying required from one side of the kitchen to another. Adjacent storage and worktop space is important to ensure safety and conserve energy.

Handrails could be fitted along the sides of the worktops and used to hang up a walking stick or crutch (Government of South Australia, 2008).

U shaped kitchen

This is a layout with units along three walls. The position of the oven/hob, fridge and sink form a 'work triangle', providing there is no interruption by obstructions such as a door.

The work triangle provides an opportunity for an uninterrupted work sequence between food storage, preparation, cooking and serving area (see picture on left).

The U shaped kitchen is one of the preferable layouts for circulation space for a wheelchair (Government of South Australia, 2008).

L shaped kitchen

This standard kitchen layout is suitable for a corner or open space. It usually consists of one long and one short wall of cupboards and appliances with the remaining space used for a dining table and chairs. This layout also provides scope for the circulation of a wheelchair (Thorpe, 2006), (Government of South Australia, 2008).

Advice last checked: 09 May 2017 Next check due: 09 May 2020

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
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  1. Goldsmith, S. 1984  Designing for the Disabled
    3rd  Ed. RIBA Publications Ltd :  UK Evidence type: 2
  2. Government of South Australia 2008  Kitchen Design: meeting everyone's needs
    View reference   Last visited:  13/12/2013 Evidence type: 2
  3. Howie, P. 1972  A pilot study of disabled housewives in their kitchens
    Disabled Living Activities Group of the Central Council for the Disabled :  UK Evidence type: 3
  4. Thorpe, S. and Habinteg Housing Association 2006  Chapter  Chapter 10: Using the kitchen: Design considerations  in  Wheelchair housing design
    2nd  Ed. BRE Press :  UK   p26 Evidence type: 2