What Is A Galley Kitchen And How To Make The Most Of It

What Is A Galley Kitchen And How To Make The Most Of It

At home, space is a commodity; we often wish we had more. The kitchen is one room where Southerners would always welcome some extra square footage. Bigger isn’t always best though, and galley kitchens are the proof in the pudding. Small but mighty, these slim kitchens pack a whole lot of potential into a limited amount of space. In fact, when designed and organized efficiently, a galley kitchen can be one of the most functional layouts available. Here’s what to know about this oft underestimated kitchen layout.

What Is A Galley Kitchen?

“A galley kitchen is a type of kitchen layout that is anchored by two parallel countertops of cabinet walls facing each other with limited space in between,” explains interior designer Laura Lubin. “This design is often found in smaller homes, but is rapidly on the rise for kitchen design.”

Narrow but full of potential, galley kitchens are similar to an aisle with countertops on both sides. That aisle can either become a dead-end on one side, or act as a hallway to a dining area. 

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Galley Kitchen Ideas

Remember Scale

“Of course, the most important thing to remember with a galley kitchen is scale,” says Lubin. “You can minimize counter overhangs, thickness of material, and appliance layout to make it far more functional.”

Maximize Vertical Storage

When space is limited, you have to make the most of what you’ve got. Lubin recommends taking advantage of just about every inch from floor to ceiling to accommodate tight borders. Cabinetry both below and above the countertop will help, as will prioritizing long but narrow appliances. To max out sky-high storage potential, interior designer Sandra Drews Lucas recommends choosing tall cabinets or pantries with double swinging shelf units.

Keep Appliances Small

A slim fridge and counter-top appliances that can be tucked away, like a blender and toaster, can seriously save space. Microwave drawers can also work wonders in sparing valuable counter space.

Organize Efficiently 

“By organizing efficiently you are maximizing your linear space usage,” says Lubin. “Overall, galley kitchens require thoughtful organization and design to make the most of the available space at hand.”

Every inch counts, so there’s no room for wasteful or counterintuitive organization. Store items where you’ll use them and by size, says Lubin. Lucas also recommends incorporating cabinet inserts to maximize storage potential. Organization also matters outside the cabinets. For example, be sure to save counter space for cooking preparations.

“I would keep most—if not all—appliances on one wall and a large amount of storage and workable space on the other,” suggests Lubin.

Open Shelving

Lucas reveals that open shelves can open up a space much more than upper cabinets can. However, open shelving storage needs to be kept very tidy, otherwise it risks appearing unkempt. 


Stay Out Of Sight

While open floor plan configurations keep the kitchen in the spotlight, a tucked-away galley can effectively hide kitchen mess. This can be an ideal setup for bustling hosts who need their kitchen to be in full working order—with all the chaos that goes with it—and still want to maintain a put-together appearance in the dining and living rooms. This concept of keeping the kitchen private is often called a ‘back kitchen.’

“We are currently designing ‘back kitchens’ in a galley kitchen configuration in many new homes to keep the ‘cooking mess’ out of sight, so embrace that advantage,” says Lucas, who recommends keeping service-oriented features out of the kitchen. “Add a dry bar with an under-counter refrigerator or a serving island, if space allows in an adjacent living space.”

Creative Cabinetry 

“We often use antique mirror cabinet fronts and lighter cabinetry color to make the space feel larger,” reveals Lubin. Lewis adds that painting the cabinets and walls the same color can have a widening illusion, too.

Decorate The Ceiling

“Wallpapering the ceiling can draw your eye away from the narrowness of the galley,” says Lucas. Plus, the ceiling is a stellar space to add interesting visual design with big impact in a tight space. There won’t be much room for accessorizing in galley kitchens, so designers suggest building in style anywhere you can.

Embrace Minimalism

Clutter is an enemy to a tidy and effective galley kitchen. Too much stuff can overwhelm prized counter and cabinet space, so keep out any unnecessary additions. Purely decorative accessories will find a better home in other rooms, and be mindful not to include anything too bulky to disproportionately decorate the space.