Galley Kitchens

Galley kitchens...the name says it all. Think tiny kitchen on a boat. Stand in one spot and make a meal. Some yahoo had the bright idea to translate this seafaring cook's super-efficient layout into home kitchen design.

Actually, many galley kitchens today do make beautiful, efficient workspaces. Island kitchens are often a basic galley layout...just with a much more open feel.

Efficiency experts love them. And some cooks do too. But many galleys are frustratingly small and/or inconvenient.

If yours is not ideal, you may feel stuck between two claustrophobic parallel rows of cabinets that often dead-end into a wall...a place only a Navy submarine veteran could love.

And what if there are two cooks in the kitchen? Watch out! (See Small Kitchen - Two Cooks for helpful ideas.)

If your kitchen needs help - better traffic flow, more light, space, or openness to the rest of the house - here are some remodeling ideas to improve it!

Ways to improve a galley kitchen

Here's a typical layout. The space is shut off from the rest of the house. It's lonely in there!

But hey!...It won't take too many steps to cook dinner.

Opening up a wall to create a pass-through is one of the least expensive ways to cure a closed-in kitchen.

Depending on the placement of appliances, you may have room for a nice big "window" to connect you to what's going on in the next room.

And if that room has enough space, you can make the pass-through an eating bar.

NOTE: If the wall is load-bearing, you'll need to add a header or a beam to hold up the house! ALWAYS CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL WHEN MESSING WITH WALLS.

Take it a step further and knock down one wall to create a peninsula. Looks like an island but it's connected to a wall at one end.

If you can borrow more space, add a raised bar or pull up shorter stools to a countertop-height bar.

This solves another issue in the original layout - refrigerator access! No more people squeezing past the cook for a cold beer or a cheese and pickles snack.

Transform your galley into an island kitchen!

Since this design removes two walls, you may need the support of a pillar - the funny little circle I've drawn on the end of the island. Sometimes a pillar adds charm to your design.

You may not need visible support if your contractor can add ceiling beams to support the house.


Okay, this is the WORST! And many original designers of homes with these kitchens are guilty of this design mistake:

A door at the end, leading to another room - traffic flow nightmare!

Especially if that's a popular little room at the other end. Sometimes it's just a laundry room...but it might be a mudroom that leads outside. Downright inconvenient, any way you look at it.

Here's a solution: Put another entry door into that room off the kitchen so it can be accessed from a hall or another room.

Then borrow a little space and carve out a pantry for your kitchen!

Yes it's still a galley kitchen, but the interruption of foot traffic running through is eliminated.

Now if the stove wall could be opened onto the next room, you've not only added a lot more storage but also a more open feeling to the room.

L-shape Kitchens   

U-Shape Kitchens   

Island Kitchens

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Thinking of remodeling?

Keep a notebook or scrapbook of notes, clippings and ideas.

Kitchen magazines are expensive - look through them in the grocery checkout line. If you see pix of a kitchen you really like, buy that magazine.

Stop in at home centers and pick up any free cabinet manufacturers' catalogs.