There are always three sides to every story

The long established basis for functional kitchen design is the work triangle. Most simply explained the 3 main “stations” in a kitchen are food storage, cooking and clean up represented by the fridge, the range and the sink and that moving between these areas is made easiest if they are in a loosely triangular position with any one side of the triangle ideally being between 4 to 9 feet. From the work triangle concept come the basic kitchen layouts.

The most common being L shaped, U shaped, Galley, “in line “or variations of these created by combining some of the basic shapes or by the addition of islands or peninsulas.

The design of your home may help dictate which kitchen shape is the best solution for you but before you settle on a plan that forces you to use a particular shape go back to that initial question about who is going to be in there and what are they going to be doing.

Then if you or your dream builder cannot possibly fit the kitchen layout you prefer in your floor plan, reconsider the floor plan. Kitchen functionality is a major part of home satisfaction for most people.

Let’s look at the basic shapes and see what they offer:picture `1.png

L shaped layouts are the most popular and work very well in open concept plans.  With work space located on two walls there is no need for traffic to cross making the L shape one of the best options for more than one person in the space at a time.

The L shape kitchen can be tiny and basic or easily expanded to include additional work spaces.  Adding an island is very popular in this layout.

U shaped kitchens are a favourite for one cook kitchens with their compact triangle.   A well-designed U shaped kitchen can incorporate all the necessities at arm’s reach without seeming restricted.  The U shaped kitchen in its smallest form is definitely a one person kitchen and may be listed as grounds for divorce if multiple person use is attempted.

The U kitchen layout adapts well to expansion and the addition of an island can kitchen even a professional cook can appreciate.

The space shaving and efficient galley kitchen is gaining in popularity with the move toward smaller living spaces

A Galley kitchen is composed of two straight banks of cabinetry across from one another forming a “hallway”.

The galley is efficient and space saving. If placed carefully in a floor plan it can serve dual purpose as the access to the master bedroom end of a home.

The one walled kitchen is a compact and can be inexpensive. Generally there is no more than 8 feet of counter space and some have the bare minimum (a 24” section and a 33” section).

The one walled kitchen provides good work flow. Primarily used in rental spaces it can be seen as a less desirable option and the space can be limited. However the placement of an island or a kitchen table with multiple use close to the island can really boost the functionality and appeal of the one walled kitchen.

The triangle is the basis for the well-designed kitchen but the 3 main stations need not be all…there may be stations added in your ideal kitchen for many other activities. The goal is to try not to not stretch the distance between the 3 major areas too far or place stations for multiple person use within the traffic flow.

This “Kitchen Biz” illustration shows the classic L shaped kitchen with the main work triangle in grey, blue and red expanded by storage and food preparation stations (orange and yellow).

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The Richelieu hardware illustration gives us a great visual of the intended use for each area.   

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The Quick fix to expand the functionality of many kitchens is the addition of an island as in this clean lined kitchen by Glenwood.


Larger multi-purpose kitchens can be created by expanding or combining the basic shapes.

The G shaped layout gives a large functional space very popular for use in open living space plans.  The G can be created by expanding an L with the addition of a peninsula that wraps around as in this Glenwood example.

kitchen 14.jpg

Think of the kitchens of family and friends you have been in; wander around display kitchens set up in store displays and think of your life and those you share it with to try to determine what kitchen layout is the basis of your dream kitchen.

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