Kitchen eating nook
Tria Giovan

Creating Space

How well your kitchen functions depends as much on smart organization as it does on square footage. No matter how much room you have. There are ways to create openness and maximize functionality.

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One-walled kitchen

The One-Wall Kitchen

The traditional one-wall kitchen is just that: a single bank of cabinets along one wall of a space, with a fridge, sink, and stove integrated into it (nearly always arranged with the sink in between the other two). It may be one wall of a studio apartment or loft, or it may be a dedicated kitchen small enough that it can hold cabinets and appliances on only one wall, leaving room for a table and chairs.

Adding an Island
Tria Giovan

Adding an Island

In a one-wall kitchen, an island can double or triple the storage and workspace and can also potentially accommodate some seating, resulting in what may feel like a vastly larger kitchen. The sink and stove can also be moved out of the wall and into the island, so that not all tasks require facing the wall.

In any case, with this type of kitchen, use all the vertical space you can to maximize storage.

Galley kitchen
Robbie Caponetto

The Galley

The galley (or corridor) is considered by many to be the most efficient form a kitchen can take. With two banks of cabinetry and appliances on parallel walls, close together, everything can be easily accessed by the cook.

Some galley kitchens have an eating area at one end or the other, which has the benefit of keeping diners our of the cook's way, as long as they don?t have to walk through the galley to get to the table.

Opening up kitchen space
Eric Piasecki

Opening Up the Space

If you remove the upper half of one wall in a galley or other small space, you lose the capacity for upper cabinets on that wall, but you gain a sense of spaciousness and the potential for a counter with seating on the opposite side. You can make up for the loss of storage by placing additional cabinets on the outside of a peninsula of half-wall.

Tiny colorful kitchen
Roger Davies

The Tiny Kitchen

This kitchen in a studio apartment has all the necessary parts but in underscaled versions to preserve a sense of spaciousness.

The apron sink is half the usual size. A mini-fridge fits under the counter -- a full-size fridge would have taken over the space. The narrow island has a slightly curved top to handle counter seating.

midsize kitchen
Antoine Bootz

Midsize Kitchens

L-shaped, U-shaped, G-shaped -- kitchens that have cabinetry wrapping multiple walls have taken on new forms over recent decades, with peninsulas extending into spaces, islands floating in the middle of them, or all but the perimeter walls gone.

The most popular kitchen layout now may be the L-shaped with an island -- with or without seating -- which fits neatly into the corner of a home.

Midsized kitchen
 Tria Giovan

More Midsize

This relatively slender island keeps the sink near the stove for efficiency. It also allows for both counter seating and a wide aisle, making the room appear quite large.

Minimalist Kitchen

Minimalist Kitchens

Also on the rise is what might be called the un-kitchen, where the more obvious kitchen elements (such as the refrigerator and upper cabinets) are downplayed or tucked out of sight, and the kitchen area is designed with the same sensibility as the living space it has merged with.

The fridge may be slipped discreetly into the island in the form of drawers, or it may be in an adjacent pantry, along with copious storage space and an extra sink, nearby but out of view.

Deluxe kitchen
Tria Giovan

Deluxe Kitchens

Today's kitchens take too many forms to name or diagram, but many are now large enough to accommodate an island and a dinner table and an office nook and sometimes even laundry machines.

The bigger the kitchen, and the more numerous its sinks and appliances and functions, the more thought needs to go into the layout to ensure that the primary function can be performed efficiently.

Double island kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn

Space Layout

With deluxe kitchens, think in terms of work zones, or stations -- sink, stove, and refrigerator in one area, perhaps a drink fridge and snack cabinet in another, and a baking center in a third.

And never underestimate the value of a second sink in a large space. Also think strategically regarding traffic flow. You don’t want people to have to walk through the main cooking area to grab their soda and bag of chips.

From Kitchens, A Sunset Design Guide, by Karen Templer

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