A guest post by Vicky Clary edited by Deb Villeneuve

In many homes, the kitchen is the center of activity and family interaction. Understanding kitchen layout pros and cons will help you with this crucial part of designing your new kitchen. Luckily, homeowners have a variety of options to choose from. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each layout will help you pick the right one for your needs.

The Work Triangle

Before you can decide which kitchen layout is right for you, it’s important to be familiar with the concept of the work triangle. Work triangles are made up of three components: the sink, stove and refrigerator — the hot spots of activity in your kitchen. Imagine an invisible triangle in your kitchen, with one of these three major appliances at each point, and a workstation between each appliance. This is the work triangle. With ample space to work and a clear path between each point, work triangles allow for maximum efficiency. The work triangle is one of the most important features of many functional kitchen designs. As you’re deciding which kitchen layout is right for you, consider where your work triangle will be placed.


Layout #1: L-Shaped Kitchen


This classic kitchen design offers an open floor plan with miles of counter space. The L-shaped kitchen features counter space along two walls forming an “L” shape. This kitchen is usually in a square- or rectangular-shaped room, or in a space that feeds into another room, such as a living room or dining room.

Room for an island
 The open floor plan usually features plenty of space for an island. In fact, islands work especially well in L-shaped kitchens because they help control the flow of traffic, giving the cook space to work and the family a separate place to lounge and talk.
With lots of floor space to wander around in, L-shaped kitchen designs can seem even more roomy than they really are.

Spacing can be problematic
L-shaped kitchens can be very spread out, with appliances lining the counter top spaces extending along two walls. This is inefficient for the kitchen user.
The layout of the corner cabinet can be difficult to maneuver
The corner cabinet of any L-Shaped kitchen will naturally be the largest and the deepest, but getting pots and pans out of the corner can be difficult.


Layout #2: Galley Kitchen

Galley kitchens are shaped like hallways. With the sink on one side and the oven and refrigerator on the other, galley kitchens work nicely in smaller homes and apartments.

Small space for a small house
Galley kitchens squeeze into small spaces without taking up too much space in the house.
The work triangle is small
Galley kitchens are naturally narrow, with little space between one side of the kitchen and the other. This keeps all appliances and cabinets within easy reaching distance, and means that kitchen users do less maneuvering to access the tools and appliances they need while cooking


Flow of traffic
The flow of traffic in a galley kitchen runs straight through the middle of the kitchen, and straight through the workstations. This can make galley kitchens feel small and cramped, and can make preparing complex meals a challenge.
No work space flexibility
The narrowness of galley kitchens limits the possibilities for renovation in the future and allows no room for an island in the middle.


Layout #3: Zone Kitchen


Zone kitchens are among the only modern kitchen designs that don’t make use of a work triangle. Zone kitchens often have an irregular design, and feature a workstation for each separate activity that takes place in the kitchen. The workstations (the cooking area, eating area, baking area and cleaning area) in a zone kitchen are spread out.

Open flow of traffic
 Zone kitchens allow multiple people to work in different locations at one time without getting in one another’s way.
Aesthetically interesting
Zone kitchens have a varying landscape that can be more visually interesting than some other kitchen designs.

Less intuitive layout
 The absence of the work triangle runs counter to many modern kitchen designs, which can make the zone kitchen difficult to get used to.
Careful planning required
 Zone kitchens may require more careful planning to ensure that the design is as efficient as possible.


Layout #4: U-Shaped Kitchen


A U-shaped kitchen gets its shape by lining three sides of a room. This layout is not quite as open as the L-shaped kitchen, but offers even more counter and storage space.

Flexible floor plan
U-shaped kitchens may feature an open floor plan, or an island in the middle for additional work space and cabinetry.
Intimate and yet spacious
This kitchen design creates a naturally enclosed space for food preparation, yet leaves plenty of room for many people to cook and interact all at once.

Multiple sets of corner cabinets
Corner cabinets are both a blessing and a curse. Deep and large, but difficult to reach into, U-shaped kitchens feature multiple sets of corner cabinets, so you’ll have plenty of dark cabinet spaces where it can be easy to lose pots and pans.
Can be confining
Some people find U-shaped kitchens to be confining, and cut off from the rest of the house. Kitchen layouts are so varied in form and function that you can easily pick the right layout for your lifestyle. Thanks to the wide variety of choices, there’s a practical option for every homeowner.

Author Bio: Vicky Clary is the Marketing Director Curtis Homes, a semi-custom homebuilder of Southern Maryland Communities. They have been assisting homeowners in creating the home of their dreams for the last 50 years.