There are five basic shapes used for new kitchen designs – give or take individual variations, and whether or not a butler’s pantry will be included.
The straight or single-wall kitchen is an ideal solution for small homes and apartments. The triangle for performing kitchen tasks ergonomically becomes more of a ‘work line’.
Multi-purposing can be the key to creating extra workspace in a straight-line kitchen. For example, the dining table could be brought close to the kitchen and used as an additional surface for food preparation, or the kitchen could have an island with stools or chairs around it, perhaps replacing the dining table altogether.
Galley-style kitchens have cabinets on two walls, facing each other, and typically provide a walk-through or corridor from one living area to another, for example, or access to an internal laundry or butler’s pantry from the kitchen. Galley kitchens are incredibly space-saving yet still allow for the triangular placement of sink and dishwasher, stove, and refrigerator.
It’s very important to allow for enough width in a galley kitchen design, however, or it might become too cramped for comfort when doors and drawers are being opened on both sides of the galley at the same time.
The L-shaped kitchen offers more potential bench space than a straight-line kitchen, and more flexibility than a galley design. Some L-shaped kitchens will have the dining table incorporated into the kitchen area. With two open sides to the kitchen it means there is plenty of space for people to congregate and participate in cooking.
Where there is another dining area available within the home, the practicality of an L-shaped kitchen can be greatly enhanced by the addition of an island. The island may incorporate the sink and dishwasher, or the cook top, or it may just provide open bench space with storage underneath and stools placed around it for breakfasts and casual dining.
The U-shaped kitchen is a classic design, and still quite open-looking as a layout, offering a great amount of bench space and plenty of wall area for cupboard placement.
One of the drawbacks associated with a U-shaped kitchen, however, is having cabinetry built into two corners. Corner cupboards with fixed shelving can create dark, pokey spaces which can be useless for storing anything other than cookware and appliances that are not very often used. To get the most out of corner cabinets you will need to explore all of the options for pull-out and carousel-style shelving.
Having a G-shaped kitchen means that the kitchen is enclosed by walls on three or all sides. Quite often there will be a breakfast bar or peninsula of bench space forming a divider on one side. The confined area of a G-shaped kitchen can cause crowding and chaos at mealtimes in busier homes.
Think about the possibility of replacing the breakfast bar or peninsula with an island. The island would provide two ways for people to get into and out of the kitchen, and greatly improve the sense of flow for household members and guests. If it turns out that you’re going to be stuck with a G-shaped kitchen, clever planning can help improve the practicality of work areas and reduce the traffic bottlenecks caused by having only one relatively narrow entry and exit point for the kitchen.