10 Fantastic Space-Saving Galley Kitchen Ideas

Long galley kitchen with white cabinets and purple area rug in middle of wood flooring

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Galley kitchens, long since removed from boats, now occupy more homes than ever That's because, while a large number of homes are supersizing, an equally large number are downsizing. People get rid of the big home and move into a downtown condo, taking advantage of the culture and fun and food afforded to them by urban cores.

A galley kitchen provides kitchen basics: counters, storage, range, oven, sink. Sometimes more, much more.

Pictured here is clearly a case of "much more": a galley kitchen whose entire left-hand wall is packed with ample cabinet space. The owners even managed to shoehorn in a wall-oven and microwave.

  • 01 of 09

    Galley Kitchen With Stainless Steel Appliances

    Stainless Steel Galley Kitchen

    Here's a galley kitchen that's long and narrow--the hallmark of galley kitchens--but with one side open to the living area. Ordinarily, there would be a load-bearing wall on that right-hand side, except you'll note that a load-bearing beam and supporting post carry that weight.

    Bring On The Light

    It's a nice, competent, lean kitchen design, nothing spectacular--but it works. Satin-finished oak cabinets do a nice job of reflecting light and making the already-bright kitchen even brighter. The stainless-steel appliances add even more light.

    Think About The Kitchen Triangle

    One workflow note: the stove and sink are on opposite sides. While this is only a stretch of about 40 inches and still part of the kitchen triangle, it's enough to irritate some cooks. After all, it's always easier to transfer that big double handful of sopping wet veggies to the pan when the sink and stove are adjacent.

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  • 02 of 09

    Galley Kitchen With Wood Counters and Breakfast Bar

    Galley Kitchen With Breakfast Bar

    Galley kitchens in the classic sense are narrowed, boxed-in corridors--walls on three sides. But not always. Here a kitchen island-cum-breakfast bar forms the "third wall," providing a visual stop between the kitchen and living area.

    What's so interesting about this plan is that island: it's double-tiered. A second "story" forms the table area for the breakfast bar, fronted with two bar stools (a sink is on the first level).

    At just about 12 inches deep, the breakfast might more accurately be called a "coffee/wine bar," as it's a great place for hanging out with the cook while consuming libations.

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  • 03 of 09

    Galley Kitchen With Island Forming One Side

    Galley Kitchen With Island
    NancyHugoCKD / Flickr

    Another open plan galley kitchen with an island forming one of the "walls." It's a most unusual, but appealing, design and here's why:

    1. Microwave: The microwave is always a problem in kitchen designs, as in, "Where to put it?" Hang it over the stove? But then you lose the chance for a legitimate kitchen hood. Make a dedicated, eye-level shelf? But then you lose cabinets. There is never a good place for the beast. The location shown here, knee-high in a base cabinet, is as good as any.
    2. Farmhouse Sink: Yes, farmhouse sinks (also known as apron sinks) have become quite popular, partly because the thin front wall means you can get up close to the action, saving your back. And they're big.
    3. Detached Pantry: The food pantry in the top-center of the photo is perfect for storing plates, bowls, linens, and anything else needed for a fully-equipped kitchen. 

    All in all, a fantastic galley kitchen design.

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  • 04 of 09

    Modern White Galley Kitchen

    Modern White Galley Kitchen
    NancyHugoCKD / Flickr

    In your mind's eye, a galley kitchen might be a dim, dark, claustrophobic corridor. Yes, there are those types.

    But you can do anything, as long as you keep within the proscribed space, right? You can even totally modernize it, as kitchen designer Nancy Hugo does here, with a white-on-white style.

    Yes, those are white subway tiles forming the continuous wall backsplash. And you're right for thinking that this kitchen island "wins" because of that generous overhang, which allows people to slide their legs underneath and get close to their food--no reaching necessary.

    If you look closely you can see that the island even has a prep sink at its far end. 

    Numerous can lights and three pendant lights finish off this contemporary kitchen.

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  • 05 of 09

    Galley Kitchen on One Wall

    Galley Kitchen On One Wall
    Daniel Rothamel/Flickr

    This homey galley kitchen is decidedly down to earth. It's a real working kitchen, complete with a dog calendar on the wall.

    What more do you need? Because this galley runs on a long wall, that length transfers to the equally long black engineered stone countertop (and counter space is always at a premium). The stainless steel undermount sink further enhances that counter space.

    The slide-in electric range is inexpensive and functional. The glass-front cabinets are airy and inviting.

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  • 06 of 09

    Fun, Nautical-Themed Galley Kitchen

    Nautical Themed Galley Kitchen
    Coco + Kelley/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This is a one-wall style galley kitchen, with everything arrayed on one side. Countertops are made of butcher-block wood and all shelving is open. The owners have even squeezed a clothes washer and dryer below the cabinets.

    Nautical Theme

    But what makes this truly fun is the nautical style. After all, the "galley" part of the galley kitchen is derived from the marine terminology--i.e., boats. So, the style is nautical with the British flag, white-against-dark color scheme, beadboard ceiling, wood-framed windows, and last but not least, the porthole-shaped window. The small door below the window even implies that you can go below decks.

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  • 07 of 09

    Modern Galley Kitchen with Wood Cabinets and Floor

    Modern Galley Kitchen with Wood Cabinets and Floor
    Doug and Laura Elfline/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    If you think a galley kitchen does not have ample storage, think again. 

    First, this kitchen design subverts the whole accepted galley kitchen notion that The Refrigerator Must Form the Back Wall. Not so here. The fridge is along the long outer wall. It must be, because of that pantry door. With a layout like this, you gain tons of storage space, but you lose prime real estate for the fridge. Also, you have to live with the fridge sticking out beyond the counters. You win some, you lose some. 

    Homeowners could partially cure the sticky-outty problem by replacing them with a counter-depth refrigerator. Yet true dimensions of these monsters still bring them out past counter depth--just not as far as regular fridges.

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  • 08 of 09

    White Euro Galley Kitchen With High Ceiling

    White Galley Kitchen With High Ceiling
    smartpackkit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The most notable aspect of this galley kitchen isn't that it's Euro-styled. It isn't the tiny stainless steel sink or the white cabinets. Nor is it the glass fronts on some of the cabinets.

    It's the high ceiling. In such a limited space, it's always great to have a tall ceiling to minimize the feeling of smallness. Even if you don't have a high ceiling, skylights can give you much of the same airy, open feeling.

    Another important feature is the counter-depth refrigerator. With these long sight-lines in galley kitchens, you want to avoid anything that sticks out, if possible. A counter-depth fridge helps with this. Here, the owners have managed to install one that extends no farther than the counters, and having it boxed in like this does smooth down the lines, as well.

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  • 09 of 09

    Small IKEA-Style Galley Kitchen

    IKEA Style Galley Kitchen
    smartpackkit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Here is a very suave galley kitchen styled along IKEA lines, with steel cabinets and long stainless steel cabinet pulls. Like many other Euro-style galley kitchens, it has a single-bowl sink that is abnormally small for most North Americans but which fits right in with European kitchens.

    A bulkhead over the left-side counter provides a place to mount the can lights. The counter overhang with a single bar stool lets your partner, spouse, or room-mate sit with you while you cook.

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