Most kitchen floor plans take into account the relationship of the sink, cooktop and refrigerator- the three components that make the kitchen a useful space. Designers refer to this as the "working triangle". In order to create a functional kitchen, it's important to understand which triangle configuration works best in the space. What we find is that most kitchens end up fitting into one of four basic floor plan designs. Every home is different, so the details and exact arrangement will always be a bit unique, but starting with the basics is a great way to see the potential for your kitchen remodel. Here, we take a look at each.
The U-Shaped Kitchen
This award-winning Morrow kitchen has a classic U-shaped layout.
The U-shaped kitchen is perhaps the more versatile. Maximizing the kitchen with appliances and cabinetry arranged across three walls, the U-shaped floor plan provides a lot of opportunity to find the right configuration. This type of layout can be scaled easily into the largest of kitchens, down to spaces that are fairly small, so it works for a variety of homes, styles, and budgets. In very general terms, the working triangle is spread out so that each zone claims a wall. Sometimes the U-shaped layout works better when an island, placed in the middle of the space, takes up one of the zones, freeing wall space up for more storage, or a feature such as a family communication center or wet bar.
The L-Shaped Kitchen
This chic kitchen in Blue Ash uses a traditional L-shaped floor plan.
As the name implies, L-shaped kitchens are arranged along two adjacent walls. Just like U-shapes, they can be enhanced with the use of an island. The choice of using an L-shape over a U-shape is usually dependent on the logistical considerations of the kitchen itself and its relation to the rest of the house. Some L-shaped kitchens may also utilize the other two walls, but in minor ways that don't play a large part in the function of the working triangle. In an L-shaped kitchen, it's worth taking the time to see if ganging two of the working zones together on one wall works out. This is particularly true if the two walls are not equal in length- the longer wall may need to bear more of the workload.
The Galley Kitchen
This Lebanon kitchen uses a galley floor plan to make the most of the long, narrow space.
Galley kitchens offer a unique solution for arranging the working triangle, and is not as applicable as the U- and L-shaped floor plans in most homes. The typical factor for the use of a galley instead of the other options is that the room is narrow or that the end wall of the kitchen isn't conducive to cabinetry or a workspace. The galley layout has two functional walls across from each other. Most galley kitchens do not have an island. This means that one wall will have two of the triangle's features, while the other holds the third. One way to consider which zones go where is to think about focal points, and to look for ways to give each zone its own space.
The One-Wall Kitchen
This kitchen in Delhi uses a one-wall layout with the addition of an island.
Some homes have a layout in which the entire kitchen can only occupy a single wall. For the most part, we see this in open floor plan homes, where the boundary between kitchen and living space is blurred. An island is an extremely useful addition to the one-wall layout. Not only does it provide a spot for one working zone, it can create a visual barrier to the kitchen. One-wall kitchens are ideal for entertaining. The largest hurdle with a kitchen that relies on one long run of functional space is to ensure that each component is put in a place that's optimal for how it will be used, and that the working zones aren't placed too far away from each other.
[This blog is updated annually with new images and edited for clarity as needed. The previous version was published on June 27, 2017.]