A well-formed plan Kitchen de­sign ad­vice, tai­lored to your lay­out

When you’re de­sign­ing a new kitchen, the way your units and ap­pli­ances are ar­ranged can have a huge im­pact not just on how the room looks but on how well it will work. Ex­perts give their ad­vice on four dif­fer­ent shapes

House Beautiful (UK) - - Contents -


This type of ar­range­ment has units fit­ted along one or on two op­po­site walls (pic­tured right). Floor space be­tween the units needs to be at least 1.2m so that there’s com­fort­able ac­cess to cup­boards and draw­ers, and enough space to turn and get to ap­pli­ances on the other side of the room. With units on both sides, the sink, cooker and fridge are best po­si­tioned con­ve­niently close on ei­ther side, not di­rectly op­po­site each other. On a sin­gle run, place the sink in the mid­dle with the fridge and cooker on ei­ther side, leav­ing at least 1.2m be­tween them if pos­si­ble.

‘With care­ful plan­ning a gal­ley kitchen needn’t feel cramped,’ says Graeme Smith, se­nior de­signer at Sec­ond Na­ture

Kitchens. ‘A tall larder, for in­stance, will hold a sur­pris­ing amount of pro­vi­sions. Use a mix of ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes, and in­clude ei­ther glazed wall units or open shelv­ing so the room doesn’t feel hemmed in.’

Pros If well-planned this de­sign can be ef­fi­cient and stream­lined.

Cons It can feel a bit like a cor­ri­dor with ap­pli­ances far apart.


An L-shaped lay­out is an open ar­range­ment with a ta­ble or is­land added if space al­lows, and it’s easy to re­tain the work tri­an­gle of sink, fridge and oven by spac­ing them out on both walls. Good light­ing is im­por­tant as nat­u­ral light may not reach the whole room.

Com­bin­ing a sec­tion of tall cup­boards with floor and wall units cre­ates var­ied stor­age and breaks up the lay­out. Al­ter­na­tively, use wall and base units on the long­est wall only, then in­stall base units only on the short wall.

In a small kitchen, opt for a hob and built-in oven as they will look sleeker than a cooker. ‘L-shaped kitchens of­fer op­ti­mum counter space but re­mem­ber the three-point place­ment of the hob/oven, sink and fridge that al­lows you to suc­cess­fully move be­tween the three ar­eas,’ says Rebecca Hughes of Rebecca Hughes In­te­ri­ors. The ap­pli­ances should be no less than 1.2m apart and no fur­ther than 2.7m.

Pros It’s adapt­able and spa­cious with the pos­si­bil­ity of adding a ta­ble or is­land.

Cons A large kitchen could mean ap­pli­ances are far apart with a lot of walk­ing be­tween them.


This lay­out is formed by lin­ing three walls with cup­boards or by adding a penin­sula that brings the units around to cre­ate the shape. Don’t make this run too long, how­ever, as you could feel cut off from the rest of the room.

‘Of all the pos­si­ble lay­outs in a kitchen, the U-shape is po­ten­tially the most ef­fec­tive and er­gonomic,’ says Graeme Smith, se­nior de­signer at Sec­ond Na­ture Kitchens. ‘The wrap­around shape can make the most of a com­pact kitchen, but is equally ef­fec­tive if you have the lux­ury of more space.

‘If there’s enough room, add an is­land or a dining ta­ble and chairs within the U-shape, re­mem­ber­ing that you’ll need at least 1.2m for easy ac­cess all around it.’

Pros You’re sur­rounded with units so ap­pli­ances are within easy reach and are more ac­ces­si­ble.

Cons The two cor­ners need to be fit­ted with flex­i­ble stor­age to be as use­ful and ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble.

An is­land looks im­pres­sive, and pro­vides stor­age and ex­tra space for food prepa­ra­tion and eat­ing. As you’ll need at least 1.2 m be­tween the is­land and units or wall, it’s un­likely to fit into a small kitchen. Is­lands start at around 1m square, but 1m by 2m is bet­ter, though it could fill a larger space pro­vided it doesn’t ob­struct move­ment be­tween the main ap­pli­ances.

Ap­pli­ances – such as a hob, wine cooler or small sink – can be fit­ted, while a work­top over­hang of 30cm to 45cm will cre­ate a break­fast bar to use with stools. ‘Con­sider the height and de­sign of your stools. Ones that tuck un­der your break­fast bar will give a stream­lined look,’ says Melissa Klink of Har­vey Jones. You will also need to think about di­rect­ing the elec­tric­ity and water sup­ply to the cen­tre of the room, which will add to the costs.

Pros Can make good use of a large kitchen by of­fer­ing stor­age and con­ve­nient food-prepa­ra­tion ar­eas.

Cons Takes up a lot of space in small to mid­dle-sized rooms and may block ac­cess.

In this kitchen, two rooms were merged to cre­ate a long, gal­ley style (left and above). As there are no wall units, the room feels wide, and quartz and wood sur­faces are used to break up the space. At the end, a free­stand­ing larder gives height and plenty of stor­age. Along­side it the im­pres­sive French doors seem to fore­shorten the ap­pear­ance of the room.

This gen­er­ous-sized L-shaped kitchen keeps the space feel­ing open and has enough room to add a ta­ble and chairs.

The fridge-freezer strad­dles the cook­ing and eat­ing zones, with the oven and hob on the long run of units and the sink on the short re­turn look­ing out to the gar­den.

The penin­sula sep­a­rates the kitchen from the sit­ting area, and has a small break­fast bar at the end for ca­sual dining.

A penin­sula forms the third side of this U-shaped kitchen lay­out (left and above). It cre­ates ex­tra stor­age and makes good use both of the area in front of the win­dow and floor space that would oth­er­wise be wasted, while leav­ing ac­cess to the wall of cup­boards along­side it. The cooker, fridge and sink are within reach of each other to make meal prepa­ra­tion eas­ier and ef­fi­cient.

This kitchen (left and above) shows an is­land work­ing at its best. In a new ex­ten­sion

with a wall of win­dows, units are fit­ted on op­po­site sides and the space in the mid­dle is filled with the is­land. It forms a link be­tween the two runs of units, cre­at­ing sym­me­try and a calm de­sign. As well as con­tain­ing cup­boards, the is­land has a long break­fast bar, sink and book­shelves.

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