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Sevenoaks A21 / M25 junction 4
Sevenoaks A21 / M25 J4

Ahoy there! Tips for planning a galley kitchen

The term ‘galley’ originates from kitchens on ships, planes and trains where the narrow space necessitated a kitchen layout that would be efficient and compact, making the most of every inch of space.

The practical nature of galley kitchens has led to their style being widely adopted in kitchen design. Whether they are part of a larger open-plan room or self-contained in a smaller environment, the galley kitchen can be a wonderful space to cook in and there are innovative ways to make sure it works for you.

A galley kitchen is made up of two parallel runs of cabinetry, which form a central corridor. Because of its functionality, it’s often the preferred design for many professional chefs. It is a safe and efficient environment to work in.

The galley style provides an ideal layout for small kitchens, particularly in flats or in older properties where an open plan layout isn’t feasible. However, the galley layout is also popular in spaces where open-plan kitchen/dining is possible, but where space needs to be carefully managed.

A beautiful symmetry

With galley kitchen layout, there are essentially two design principles – symmetrical or asymmetrical.

With symmetrical design, as you’d expect, both sides of the kitchen cabinetry mirror each other in style, height and length – depending on the space, window and door layout, this might be the preferred option.

However, for some rooms, it might be more appropriate to opt for an asymmetrical design or a mixture of the two. For example, on one side of the space there could base level cabinetry and worktops and on the other, full height cabinets and appliances. It’s also possible to have a combination of tall and wall units on one side with base units along the other.

A mixture of wall cabinets, open shelving, base cabinets and drawers is a good way to vary the design and create interest.

A culinary haven or a busy thoroughfare?

Depending on the household, one galley kitchen might provide a tranquil place to cook and create, whereas the galley corridor in another home could regularly have people passing through. Whatever the circumstances, it well worth considering who will be using the kitchen and whether the layout should be adjusted to take this into account.

The traditional ‘triangular’ formation with the sink, cooker and fridge at the perfect equidistance for cooking may not be appropriate in a busy galley kitchen. If there are young children regularly walking (or running) through the space, moving to either side of the kitchen with hot water or sharp utensils wouldn’t be practical. It’s easy to enhance safety by making simple design decisions such as having the cooker and sink on one side of the kitchen.

Hardworking walls

In a small space, walls or particularly a section of wall can give the illusion of space when used creatively.

This could be something as simple as a painting or piece of art to draw the eye.

A mirror is also a great way to bounce light or extend the feeling of space. It’s possible to get really creative with blackboard paint for shopping lists or children’s drawings.

Using shelving rather than wall units is also a good way to break up the layout and, if carefully curated, shelves can be a great design tool. Keeping the same colour as the cabinetry gives a seamless look and using them for glassware or storage containers can be practical as well as attractive.

The storage revolution

We are lucky to live in the age of innovative storage solutions! Whether it’s a drawer to keep large pots or cereal boxes, or a pull-out larder or pantry cupboard, there are so many ways to ensure that a small kitchen space isn’t limiting.

Somewhere to sit?

Depending on the available space and the requirements of the household, sometimes it’s possible to incorporate seating into a galley kitchen.

It might be a small table at one end of the room or, if this isn’t possible, there may be space for a small peninsula or to adjust part of the worktops for enable a breakfast bar or a place to sit and work on a laptop.

That feeling of space

Creating a feeling of space in a galley kitchen is a pivotal part of design considerations.

Using gloss worktops is a great way to bounce around reflection and light in a modern space, or cabinetry and drawers without handles can also help to create sleek and uninterrupted lines.

Space can also be enhanced through décor with the use of a tiled floor or a bold splashback to focus interest in different areas and eyelines.

For some spaces, it might give a calmer, more tranquil feel to hide away kitchen paraphernalia rather than have them on display.

Tambour doors are a popular way to provide easy access to what you need, with the ability to hide them away in an attractive and modern way when it’s time to close the kitchen!

Find out more about designing your perfect kitchen

Read more about how to plan the ultimate kitchen for your unique space.

Jack Hone

Chief kitchen designer (and chef in a previous life), who loves creating perfect spaces for people to make memories in.