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What Is a Galley Kitchen & How Do You Plan for One?

Defined by their corridor-like design, the galley kitchens of today are hot, hot, hot in home design trends. In no way do they resemble the narrow ship kitchens for which they were named. Today’s galley kitchens run from tiny to massive and can be both economical and luxurious. One thing is for sure: homeowners (and designers alike) love them.

Galley kitchens are narrow and consist of two parallel walls that include all the kitchen necessities: sink, refrigerator, stove, pantry, counter space and cabinets – usually lots of cabinets… we’re talking floor to ceiling storage. Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of a galley kitchen and tips for including one in your remodel project.

Pros and Cons of a Galley Kitchen

Pros of a Galley Kitchen:

  • As there is only the corridor in which you work, galley kitchens are a wonder in workspace efficiency.
  • Originally, galley kitchens were, by nature, small. So, for those on a tight budget, galley kitchens can be cost-effective. For those thinking about an extravagant galley kitchen… this “pro” may not apply.
  • Small households work well with galley kitchens as there won’t be too many cooks in the kitchen.
  • Galley kitchens can have ample storage with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. The trick is to make the most of your storage space. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Cons of a Galley Kitchen:

  • Because of that floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, galley kitchens tend to not have much in natural light and therefore, are a little on the darker side.
  • Smaller galley kitchens can feel tight and isolating in a not-so-cozy way.
  • Depending on the size of your galley kitchen, counter space can be limited, not allowing for ample workspace.
  • Because of their corridor-like appearance, galley kitchens are not ideal for entertaining larger groups.

Tips for Including a Galley Kitchen in Your Remodel

Whether you’re thinking about upgrading your galley kitchen or you want to design one from scratch, we’ve got the tips and tricks you’ll need before you start your galley kitchen project.

Keep it Simple: Galley kitchens are meant to be simple. Adding breakfast bars, kitchen islands, huge farmhouse sinks and other bulky items will take away from not only the entire concept of a galley kitchen but space. Let it be known now – you do not want to waste space in a true galley kitchen.

Include Ample Space-Saving Storage: One of the best—and most stylish—features in a galley kitchen is the ability to create floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and storage. To get the most out of this space, things to consider include baskets, labeled bins, glass-front cabinet doors, lazy Susans and roll-out appliance shelves.

Lighten Up: If the galley kitchen you’re designing will be on the smaller size, consider lighter, more neutral tones as this will give the feel of a much larger room throughout the space. Our suggestion: lighten up all over, from the flooring, counters and backsplash, to the cabinets, paint and appliances.

Let’s Talk Lighting: Light fixture placement is essential in a galley kitchen – especially if you want to give the illusion of more space. A well-lit kitchen can truly make the space feel larger. Adding character with lanterns, hanging cluster globe pendants, chandeliers and recessed lighting can give personality to your galley kitchen as well.

When to Incorporate an Island: Breaking from the true galley kitchen for a modified one, a fun way to include an island is to use it as an entire galley wall, opening to another room in your home. Doing this means you can create a breakfast bar, homework space, second sink, entertaining space… the options are endless.

Final Thoughts on Designing a Galley Kitchen

Typical galley kitchens range from 100-150 square feet and are approximately seven to eight feet in length. If this fits the bill with your plans, the above tips and advice will really help you make the most of your space.

If, however, you’re opting for a larger galley kitchen, consider these a guide to making your galley kitchen the best it can be… but most importantly, just have fun and enjoy your new, trendy kitchen.

Comparing Kitchen Island Styles And Shapes

You may think that if you’ve seen one kitchen island, you’ve seen them all. But this popular kitchen element has a lot more layers than you can believe. From a variety of styles to a wide range of shapes, there are many different options available to homeowners. Narrow down your choices to reveal the kitchen island of your dreams with this comparison of the different kitchen island styles and shapes.


  1. Galley Island

If you try to imagine a kitchen island in your mind, the style that probably appears is a galley island. This is your standard, rectangular kitchen island that stands in the middle of an open concept kitchen. You can walk around it entirely because it doesn’t connect to any walls or furniture. This style usually accommodates bar-style seating on one side.

While a galley island may be traditional or common, it is extremely functional and is designed to carry a lot of the weight in a kitchen. Housing the sink and dishwasher or a kitchen range, you’ll typically find one large appliance installed into a galley island.

  1. L-Shaped Island

When choosing custom cabinets, especially for a larger kitchen, you may decide you want to expand your kitchen design to include an L-shaped island. This style provides additional storage and countertop space by taking advantage of any available square footage in your kitchen. Its formation is meant to follow the flow of your kitchen cabinets, standing parallel along each side.

If cooking is your passion and your kitchen is often a busy workstation, an L-shaped island may be the perfect style for you. But if you prefer a more open concept design, this style may provide too many barriers and feel too spread out for your liking.

  1. U-Shaped or Circular Island

The U-shaped island is similar to the L-shaped island in that it follows the flow of your kitchen and is more suited for larger homes. Its pros and cons are predominantly the same — you gain storage and prep space in exchange for a more open concept design.

Similarly, a circular island exists that eliminates the corners of the U-shaped island for a completely rounded design. A circular island is one of the less common choices when it comes to kitchen islands. But this unique design can be the perfect fit in certain modern designs. In order for this type of island to maintain its functionality, you will have to have custom cabinets created to work with the unusual shape.

  1. Portable Island or Cart

If you love the look of a kitchen island but have a smaller home or are a renter, a portable island or cart is a great alternative. This portable piece of furniture can be positioned anywhere in the room and can even be tucked away on demand. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many even with the capability for bar seating. You will find some varieties with wheels for easy navigation and others that resemble freestanding furniture (like a bookshelf or buffet table).

Not that you know all of the different styles and shapes of kitchen islands, which type will you choose for your home?


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