Maximize your efficiency

Understanding Kitchen Layouts and Work Triangles

With so many options for customizing your kitchen, understanding the basics of an efficient kitchen will help to design your space most effectively.  Kitchens can be designed in 5 basic layouts, or GLUGS: Galley, L-Shape, U-Shape, G-Shape, or Single-Wall.  In all these layouts, having an efficient work triangle is key to maximizing your kitchen’s efficiency.  

There are three main elements to any kitchen: cooking, cleaning, and storing. The work triangle embodies these three elements through your range, sink, and refrigerator.  The National Kitchen and Bath Association suggest that each leg of the triangle should measure between 4 and 10 feet to allow the cook better access to the three main elements with a total perimeter not to exceed 26 feet.

  • Each leg should be 4-10 feet
  • Traffic should flow around the triangle, not through it
  • No side of the triangle should cut through an island or peninsula for more than 12 inches
  • You can have more than one triangle by adding additional sinks or work spaces
  • It’s best to keep the range as far away from traffic as possible
  • It’s best to keep the refrigerator as close to traffic as possible, so that traffic does not enter the triangle.

5 Basic Kitchen Layouts

1. Galley

Galley kitchens feature two straight, opposing work spaces creating a hallway-like kitchen. Galley kitchens are perfect for narrow spaces with an ideal width of about 7-12 feet. Galley kitchens can be more efficient if the range is on the opposite side as the sink and refrigerator.

2. L-Shape

L-Shaped kitchens are one of the most popular and versatile kitchen layouts with two perpendicular work spaces. L-Shaped kitchens are often modified with a center island to increase prep space and sometimes house either the sink or range, and can offer additional dining space.

3. u-shape

U-Shaped kitchens are another versatile configuration which surround the cook on three walls, offering an ideal work triangle. With cabinets on three sides, U-Shaped kitchens really maximize cabinet space and work areas.

4. G-Shape

G-shaped kitchens are a variation of U-Shaped kitchens where there is a peninsula on one end.  This extra storage and work space opens opportunity for additional cooks—especially if two sinks are included in the design.  The peninsula also may offer additional eating space.

5. Single-Wall

Single-Wall Kitchens are the simplest kitchen layout where all appliances and cabinets are found on one wall.  This type of kitchen is popular in small apartments or condos.  To maximize efficiency in this style of kitchen it is best to place the sink between the range and refrigerator.  One trade secret is to be aware of how appliance doors open.  In this format, it is best for refrigerator doors to open away from the kitchen sink.