Galley kitchens don’t always get the best press. Seen by some as the preserve of smaller spaces, all the attention and plaudits seem to be focused on open-plan kitchen designs and kitchen islands. This is the sexy side of modern kitchens. Galley kitchens don’t tend to get a look-in. And that’s a shame, because galley kitchen design ideas have got a lot going for them. For example, it’s not always highlighted enough that the galley kitchen is the preferred design of many professional chefs. Indeed, in terms of cooking safety and efficiency, there really is no equal to a galley design.

Not only that, don’t think that galley kitchens are only for (or best for) smaller spaces. In fact, a galley layout in an open-plan space can offer the best of both worlds. So, without further ado, let’s look at some great galley   kitchen design ideas.

Galley Kitchen Design Ideas: The basics

Let’s cover the basics first. What exactly is a galley kitchen, and what are the key design principles behind the look? Essentially, a galley kitchen features two parallel runs of units and appliances. This leaves a central corridor in between to work in. Taking the name from the compact galleys that can be found on ships, the galley kitchen design is one that really optimises the space you have, by packing in plenty of storage and work areas.

The design is a firm favourite in professional kitchens, because it brings everything the chef needs together into a compact and efficient space. Similarly, the fact that so much is packed into the space means that galley kitchens are ideal for small spaces. However, it’s really important to be clear that the galley kitchen layout can work equally well with all kitchen styles.

Galley kitchen design ideas: Symmetrical or asymmetrical?

The galley kitchen design ideas you select really depend on the space you have at your disposal. It’s true that galley kitchens are a great solution for a space-strapped small kitchen, but medium-sized kitchens and even open-plan designs can also be ideal for a well-designed galley layout. The crucial thing to bear in mind is that if the two opposite runs of the galley are too far apart, the kitchen will lose a lot of its efficiency.

Broadly speaking, when it comes to galley kitchen design ideas, choosing your galley look means you have two layout preferences. The first of these is a symmetrical design. It can be relatively symmetrical as opposed to absolutely symmetrical. However, it is usually the case that the length of the opposing runs and the arrangement of units to each side mirror each other.

On the other hand, if you want to mix things up a bit and you prefer giving a slightly unusual spin on things, an asymmetrical look could be just what you are after. There are several ways to do this. One approach is to set a bank of appliances or tall units on one side opposite a run of wall and base units on the other side. Alternatively, you could mix tall and wall units on one run opposite a row of base kitchen units.

Galley Kitchen Design Ideas: Getting the aesthetics right

Although there is no such thing as a hard and fast rule when it comes to galley kitchen design ideas, there are several design principles that are well worth bearing in mind. The first of these refers to putting tall cabinets along one wall. Ideally, so that the sink and cooker top are far enough apart, the length of the wall should be at least 12 feet. The sink and stove should be at least a foot away from each other, with a distance of at least 3 feet being the optimum.

If the wall is 12 feet this allows plenty of space to accommodate the units on opposite side, such as the fridge and oven. This design not only looks great, it also helps to keep everything neat and tidy, the countertops free of clutter, as well as providing you with ample storage solutions.

The obvious alternative to the above is to opt for an asymmetrical layout featuring both wall and base units all along one of the runs. Again, it is ideal if you have 12 feet of space to play with. The natural combination is to have up to three tall units at one end and three base units at the other end of the run. This galley kitchen organisation can be a real god send if the space is on the narrow side. If there isn’t a tall bank of units as you enter the kitchen, it makes the space feel more open and creates an airy feel.

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Galley Kitchen Corridors…

Another key consideration, dependent on the layout of your home, is whether or not the galley kitchen is closed off at one end. One of the most common galley kitchen layouts can be found in older properties – often terraced houses. Here the far end of the kitchen can lead to the garden and/or another room, usually a utility-type space. Especially, if one end opens up to the garden, the corridor of the galley kitchen is likely to become a busy thoroughfare.

For a couple at home, this won’t be too much of a problem. However, if you have a family with small children and pets, it could be a problem. Having such a busy thoroughfare running through the space where you could be preparing food with sharp utensils, hot pans and boiling water is far from ideal. If the corridor is on the narrow side, it can be a good idea to position the sink and the cooker on the same run on one side. Strictly speaking, it has been proven that to have these two key areas opposite each other is best. As parts of the ‘golden triangle’, it creates the most efficient workspace. However, people would be happy to lose a little efficiency if it helped to create a safer environment for the family.

And Galley Kitchen Closed-Off Walls

In many ways, a galley kitchen that is closed off at one end provides a safer layout. As there is only the one entrance, it gives the cook (the person in charge of the heat and potentially dangerous implements) a greater awareness of the comings and goings around them. But, in any kitchen, it’s important to make good use of any available space. So, it is important to think carefully about how to make the best use of a closed-off kitchen wall.

Of course, if there’s a window at the end, it’s important to retain all the natural light and not block it off. Alternatively, this might be the perfect place for a stool, some open shelving, possibly a picture or statement piece of artwork. If space is particularly tight, this could be the ideal place to position a mirror to help to create the illusion of a bigger space.

Other Galley Kitchen Design Ideas to consider

Of course, these days many people want their kitchen to be much more than simply a working space for the cook of the household. Nowadays, kitchens are expected to be social spaces as well. It’s certainly true that the conventional galley kitchen isn’t great a sociable setting for a cook. It makes up for it by being such an effective workspace. However, all is not lost.

How about a galley kitchen with an island? If space allows, an island can be a great addition to a galley kitchen.

In this twist on a galley kitchen, the island essentially replaces on of the runs to become an intrinsic part of the kitchen’s functional layout. Sitting parallel to a longer run, typically featuring the cooker or sink, the island could accommodate the other. If not positioned on the island, the sink or range is staggered on the opposite run. This maintains the triangular aspect that underpins safe and efficient kitchen design. It reduces the amount of turning required between the stove and the sink.

Make your galley a sociable setting

If you have the space for an island within your galley kitchen design, then it can be a real advantage. What’s more, it can work in a couple different ways. For those who class themselves as serious cooks, extra work surfaces are highly desirable. Keeping the island top provides a considerable amount of extra workspace. However, you can get the best of both of both worlds with an island in a galley kitchen. How? Well, you could easily keep one side of the island clear for extra cooking space and still use the opposite side of the island to accommodate the rest of the family in a socialble setting. This is a great way of making a galley kitchen a more socialble proposition.

It’s important not to force something into a space that it is really too small for.  Therefore, you should only consider incorporating an island into a galley kitchen if you have plenty of space for it. It’s not the sort of thing you should try and squeeze into the space you’ve got. However, even if a kitchen island isn’t a sensible or realistic option, all is not lost. Your galley kitchen can still be a sociable space.

Even if an island is a bit ambitious, there is often enough space with the galley space for either a breakfast bar or a small peninsula. Indeed, it can give you extra storage space, as well as a dining/social area.

A table in positioned in between the two opposing runs of a galley kitchen can work too. However, you do need to be careful when you are planning the space. You don’t want to push the two sides too far apart. This will make the kitchen a lot less efficient.

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Lighting galley kitchen design ideas

Good lighting is vital in any room. But in space such as the typical galley kitchen it can the key to making the tight, narrow space seem so much bigger. There are a few simple tips and tricks that can work wonder. Firstly, let in as much natural light as possible. This is sometimes easier said than done. The most important thing is to avoid blocking any windows or overcrowding them with too many cabinets. Bear in mind that shelving will allow to light to flow around the room fluidly and more naturally.

Layered lighting is another must-have in a galley kitchen. Don’t underestimate the effect achieved combining the strength of main overhead lighting with the likes of strategically placed shelf-lighting and lamps. Similarly, task lighting – such as spotlights – to highlight workspaces are great additions.

Galley kitchens: Colour and finish

If you are thinking about galley kitchen design ideas, you need to remember the importance of space. In a long and narrow kitchen, the colour scheme you choose should enhance the design. It should make the room look and feel spacious.

The most obvious choices are light and neutral-coloured cabinets. This will instantly create a bright atmosphere. Granite or timber worktops offer a sophisticated finish and contrast. If you want to add a layered look, consider adding soft pastel tones across the scheme.

Dark colours aren’t necessarily out either in a galley kitchen. However, you should certainly think about choosing a gloss finish if you plump for darker tones. The finish will enable light to bounce around the space. This creates the impression of space. Another tip is to use contrast. For example, pair dark units with light flooring and countertops. This will stop the colours overwhelming the space.

In smaller spaces – as galley kitchens often are – it’s also really important to remember that adding too much detail to the space can be too overwhelming. However, that doesn’t mean that a statement wall, tiled backsplash or a mirror can’t work well.

If you consider the lighting and colour just as much as you think about the layout of a galley kitchen, you’ll be onto a winner.

More Galley kitchen ideas

We’ve covered the main design principles of a galley kitchen and explained the main dos and don’ts. Now it’s time to round off with a few final galley kitchen design ideas. For the bold and brave out there, why not draw the eye with bold colours and a statement gallery wall? Mix bold dak tones with softer and contrasting pastels to accentuate a wall of statement art prints.

Alternatively, it’s always worth remembering that when it comes to any aspect of interior design, simple is often best. Don’t make things overly fussy, just plump for simplicity and savour every bit of space.

How about ditching the wall cabinets? It’s another bold move and slightly unconventional; but ditching the cabinets for open shelving can be a really impressive design statement to catch the eye with.

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Last but not least: More ideas

The galley kitchen design template stems from the galley of a ship. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a galley kitchen lends itself to a classic country-style design just as much as it does an ultra-modern chef’s kitchen.

Keep things fresh and bright with neutral walls and cabinets, but consider adding rustic elements, such as dresser-style shelving to evoke the timeless farmhouse kitchen look. You can create even more country charm to your galley kitchen by using natural woods where you can, or the likes of wicker as storage.

If you want to really optimise the space you have, single galley designs can be ideal to make the most of the light. Thin reflective surfaces, skylights and exposed brick – the perfect recipe for a side return extension to the kitchen, amongst many other things.

Finally, keeping things all white can be the most effective way to open up the narrow space of a galley kitchen. Clean lines and crisp designs work wonderfully with white. Little pops of colour, such as plants or small appliances can be the perfect complement to a functional but decidedly stylish kitchen design.

Galley Kitchens: The Verdict

They are certainly not everybody’s cup of tea. However, galley kitchens have got a lot more going for them than a lot of people realise!

Hopefully, this blog has given some food for thought. Galley kitchens aren’t just for small homes and spaces. Nor are they only for professional chefs to ply their wares. No, galley kitchens can tick many boxes and float many boats. Get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team if you’d like any more information about galley kitchen design ideas.