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Galley Kitchen Design Ideas

make the most of a narrow kitchen space

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Elegant Galley Kitchen DesignElegant Galley Kitchen Design

The term ‘galley kitchen’ sometimes brings about thoughts of a ship’s compartment where food is cooked and prepared. How do you visualize the space?

Descriptive words could include long, narrow, small and compact, room enough for one (oh boy!) and generally not very well loved by some cooks because of the restrictive nature of the design.

I love the elegance of the space shown above, courtesy of our friends from Traditional Home.

So what do you do if your home currently has, or will have, a galley kitchen? Keep in mind that a galley kitchen can be defined as a kitchen with two units of the same size facing each other, but it could also refer to a U-shaped kitchen design. The eating area is typically found at one end of the kitchen.



Ideas for Creating a Functional, Beautiful
Galley Kitchen Design

Galley Kitchen DesignsGalley Kitchen with Neutral Color Palette

Here are some design & decor tips to make the most of a long and narrow space. (It would be great if all galley kitchen designs were as grand as the photo shown, but most of us will work with a little smaller space!)

Maintain at least three feet of space between the two counter top areas, with an overall width of eight to twelve feet.

If your kitchen will be utilized regularly by more than two people or is open at both ends and will be used as a pass-through, widen the space between the counter top areas to at least four feet if possible.

The working triangle of the kitchen space, where the stove, frig and sink are located, should be about eight feet in length maximum. Otherwise you will lose efficiency by having to walk too far while preparing meals, etc.

A window above the sink on an exterior wall will bring in natural light. If your galley kitchen design is U-shaped, a window placed at the end of the ‘U’ may cause you to lose a bit of overhead cabinet space but will serve to let in more light and enhance the feeling of openness.

Ideas for Galley Kitchen ThisOldHouseNatural Light Abounds in this Galley Kitchen

Add a skylight. Or, make sure the eating area has plenty of natural light if it is placed at one end of the galley kitchen.

Open up the space by removing the upper cabinets from the interior side of the kitchen area to expose the eating area/family room space.

You will lose some upper cabinetry but again, it will make the space feel larger. Add a storage unit such as a buffet or cabinet in the eating area if there is enough space, to make up for the upper cabinets you lost.

Think about task lighting carefully. Of course you’ll include overhead lighting, ceiling cans would be great, but consider under counter as well. The photo shown here from ThisOldHouse.com shows an example of this.

If you open up the interior side of the galley kitchen (or a portion of it), turn it into a snack bar on the opposite side of the counter and add pendant lighting. If you have an open area above the upper cabinets, add some soft lighting there as well.

A light overall color palette will make the space appear larger, and is particularly important if your galley kitchen design is small.

Counter tops, cabinetry, flooring...all of these elements in lighter shades and textures will enhance the open feeling.


If you love color and need to see some in the galley kitchen, use accessories such as rugs, cabinet pulls, tile back splash accents, artwork, lighting and other types of accents to liven things up. Use the color in bright small splashes as opposed to large blocks. Great example in this photo from HomeDesignFind.com

Keep the functional appliances, etc. on the kitchen counter that you need and use daily


Vintage StyleGalley Kitchen Vintage Galley Kitchen Design

Avoid clutter and unnecessary ‘stuff’ in the galley kitchen as it will just look small and cluttered as a result.

If you don’t use it every day, store it in a cabinet.

Plan carefully, utilize these galley kitchen design ideas, and you can create a functional space that will be a pleasure to be in!




You might also enjoy:

Small Space Decorating Ideas

Multi Purpose Dining Rooms

multi purpose dining room ideas



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