Before you start selecting countertops and drawer pulls, you have to answer one of the most fundamental questions of kitchen remodeling: What layout design should you use?

When looking for layout ideas for modestly sized kitchens, you're likely to come across both galley and L-shaped designs. Which is better? As with most kitchen remodeling questions, it depends on your space and how you plan to use the room. The following guide can help you decide whether a galley or L-shaped kitchen is best for you.

Galley Kitchens

What Is a Galley Kitchen?

A galley kitchen features two opposite walls of cabinetry and countertops. Often, the two sides of the room are separated by a walkway that's approximately 4 to 6 feet across. It's not common to use an island in this layout, but particularly large galley kitchens may have the space to accommodate one.

The two ends of the room are typically used as entrances, but one end might be dedicated to a window instead.

See examples of galley kitchens of various shapes and sizes in the video below:

Galley Pros

If you're short on kitchen space, a galley design may be at the top of your list. This is one of the best arrangements for small kitchens because you can pull it off without requiring much width.

You've probably heard of the work triangle. The idea is that your sink, your stove and your refrigerator should be arranged in a triangular fashion so you can easily move between them as you prepare a meal. Doing this with a galley kitchen is easy; two fixtures go on one wall, and the other goes across from it.

Galley Cons

A galley kitchen can feel closed-in. It requires proper design and decor to ensure that it won't feel too dark or crowded. Furthermore, this layout doesn't typically work for open floor plans.

If the kitchen is too narrow, a galley layout won't work well. As soon as you open a cabinet or an appliance, you'll cut off all flow of traffic.

Along those same lines, if your kitchen is a major traffic pathway through your home, you'll probably grow frustrated when people walk through your workspace as you're trying to move back and forth from one row of cabinets to the other.

The narrow format of a galley kitchen can make it hard for multiple people to cook at once. The layout works better in one-cook families.

Who Should Use a Galley Layout?

A galley kitchen layout can be a great choice if you:

  • Have a small kitchen with limited layout options.
  • Want an efficient work triangle.
  • Have a way to allow natural light into the room.
  • Can keep your kitchen from being a main line of traffic throughout your home.
  • Prefer for one person to cook at a time.

L-shaped Kitchens

What Is an L-shaped Kitchen?

As the name implies, the L-shaped design relies on two sides that meet at a right angle. The cabinets and appliances are positioned along these two sides, which are also considered the "legs" of the design. The two sides may be of equal length, or one may be shorter than the other.

View examples of L-shaped kitchens in the following video:

​L-shaped Pros

This is a rather classic design for kitchens. It is a flexible arrangement that works well in moderately sized rooms.

It's almost as easy to incorporate the work triangle principle into an L-shaped kitchen as it is with a galley design. When two of the fixtures are along one of the legs, and the other is on the adjoining leg, a triangular arrangement is the natural result.

If you have an open-concept kitchen, an L-shaped design can work really well for you. The L sits along the outer walls. Opposite the cabinets, the room is open, allowing for an easy view of the living or dining areas.

Whether or not you have an open-concept home, an L-shaped design can be used with or without an island. An island gives you additional workspace, but it's not an essential component of an L-shaped kitchen.

L-shaped Cons

When multiple people set to work in an L-shaped kitchen, the single work triangle can quickly become crowded. Therefore, this arrangement is best for one cook at a time. However, if your counter space is long enough, one cook can prep ingredients at one end while another bounces between the refrigerator and the stove.

Furthermore, size can be an issue. Tiny kitchens may not have enough space to build the L. On the other hand, if your kitchen space is quite large, you'll likely find that an L-shaped design requires you to walk too far to efficiently move between appliances. However, an island can sometimes remedy this issue.

Who Should Use an L-shaped Layout?

With these features in mind, the L-shaped kitchen might be your best choice if you:

  • Have a moderately sized kitchen – neither too big nor too small.
  • Would like to include a kitchen island, space permitting.
  • Want to make good use of the work triangle concept.
  • Desire for your kitchen to be open to another room in the house.
  • Usually have just one person cooking at a time but want the option to fit two in the kitchen as needed.

Based on these suggestions, will you choose a galley or L-shaped kitchen for your home? Either style can be beautiful and functional. Making a final decision about what design to use should depend largely on the size of your room, the layout of your house, and how your family uses the kitchen.

For expert layout advice, contact NDA Kitchens to schedule a free design consultation. Our team will help you select the best layout for your home, and we can transform your space with a 3 Week Kitchen Renovation.