One-Wall Kitchen Layout Basics

Modern Scandinavian kitchen

 

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There's something to be said about simplicity. And one of the simplest ways to understand kitchen design is with the kitchen triangle. This design concept enables the cook to move between the refrigerator, stove, and sink in a three-point, non-intersecting fashion. Can you get even more basic than this? It turns out that you can.

How about a tight cluster of those basic services, where the cook has everything at their touch and nothing is too far to walk to? This is the concept that powers the one-wall kitchen layout.

One-Wall Layout Basics

All kitchen services, cabinets, and counter are along one wall

Similar to a galley kitchen, which has two counters

A favorite design for small homes and condos

Counter and cabinets run for about 8 feet, more or less

Less expensive than other layouts because it is smaller

Lends itself well to do-it-yourself building

Lower value than other kitchen layouts

What a One-Wall Layout Is

In a one-wall kitchen layout, all of the cabinets, countertops, and major work services are arrayed along one wall. The other three sides of the kitchen are open and often face living areas.

Major work services include the refrigerator, sink, and stove or oven. A dishwasher is often included as a major service. If it plugs in or is plumbed in, and it's necessary, it's more than likely a major service. Things that can be moved aren't included—items like a microwave or coffee maker.

With the one-wall layout, the counter typically is around 8 feet long. If the counter were any shorter, you would not have enough room to fit those major services. The order of the work services is less important than with other layouts due to the layout's small size.

One-wall kitchen layouts are often augmented with mobile kitchen islands or carts. These pieces allow more countertop space for food preparation.

One-wall kitchen layouts are similar to galley kitchens, which have two rows of cabinets and countertops separated by one aisle.

Kitchens with one-wall layouts are often found in rental homes, apartments, condos, and small detached homes.

Pros and Cons of the One-Wall Layout

Pros

  • Inexpensive: Limited counter space means lower costs, as counters tend to run up kitchen budgets considerably. Fewer wall and base cabinets are used, too.
  • Easier DIY Options: Because you do not have to join up counters or other complicated work, the one-wall design is the easiest for the do-it-yourself homeowner to undertake. Usually, a single countertop with one sink cutout is used.
  • Compact Design: The one-wall layout is the best way to create space in the rest of your kitchen if needed for a table or other uses. Also, because the kitchen footprint is minimized, more space can be used for living areas.
  • Good Workflow: All of the major cooking functions are kept within a few feet of each other. You never have to move very far with a one-wall layout.

Cons

  • Lower Perceived Value: Unless the house requires the one-wall kitchen design, many homebuyers may have a difficult time accepting it. So, selling the home may be more difficult. Kitchens are often designed this way because there is no other option due to space or cost limitations.
  • Lower Resale Value: Resale values are lower for minimal kitchens simply because homebuyers place such a high premium on the kitchen nowadays.
  • Fewer Countertops: You do save money on countertops—but this means having fewer countertops for cooking. If you love to cook, no doubt you will find yourself adding rollaway kitchen islands or putting cutting boards over the sink as impromptu counter space.
  • Design Decisions: The one-wall design does bring up new decisions by virtue of its compact size. For instance, where do all of your cabinets go? Since you have so little space, you have fewer places to put them. Yet if you cut back on cabinets, you have less storage space.

Tips For One-Wall Kitchen Layouts

Liberally use mobile islands or small tables. If space permits, you may even be able to install a narrow permanent kitchen island.

In higher-end homes, increase the value of your one-wall kitchen layout by installing premium countertops such as quartz or concrete. Use quality cabinets. Install premium appliances.

If possible, consider locating the kitchen along a wall that doesn't have a window. Windows reduce the number of wall cabinets you can install.