A long and narrow kitchen configuration with a central walkway that has cabinetry, countertops, and appliances built along one or both walls, the galley kitchen is often found in older city apartments and historic homes. While it might feel dated and cramped to people used to open plan kitchens, the galley kitchen is a space-saving classic that appeals to those who enjoy having a self-contained room for meal prep, with the added benefit of keeping kitchen mess out of sight from the main living space.
Check out these tips for designing a comfortable and efficient layout for a galley-style kitchen, or for optimizing the one that you already have.
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Add Cafe-Style Seating
Many galley kitchens have a window at the far end to let in natural light and air. If you've got the space, adding a place to sit and have a cup of coffee, or to take a load off while performing meal prep will make it more comfortable and functional. In this small galley-style kitchen in a Georgian style apartment in Bath, England, designed by deVOL Kitchens, a small cafe-style breakfast bar is built right next to the window. In a single galley kitchen, consider installing a fold-out wall-mounted table. In a larger double galley kitchen, try a small bistro table and chairs.
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Follow the Architecture
Interior designer Jessica Risko Smith of JRS ID followed the natural curve of a bank of bay windows on one side of this galley-style kitchen with custom built-in cabinetry that hugs the space's irregular curves and creates a natural home for a sink and dishwasher, while maximizing every inch of space. Open shelving high up near the ceiling provides added storage. The kitchen is accessed by a wide case opening that feeds into the adjacent dining room for ease of movement.
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Skip the Uppers
In this spacious California galley kitchen from real estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino, a neutral palette mixed with natural wood and industrial touches creates a streamlined look. A pair of windows, a glass double door leading to the outside, and bright white walls and ceiling paint keeps the galley kitchen feeling light and bright. Apart from a floor-to-ceiling block of cabinetry built to house the refrigerator and provide extra storage, upper cabinetry was omitted to preserve a feeling of openness.
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Install Open Shelving
A cafe-style seating area by the window in this galley style kitchen designed by deVOL Kitchens is a cozy spot for meals, reading, or meal prep. The designers took advantage of the space above the bar-style counter to hang some open shelving to store everyday essentials. A glass framed picture leaning up against the wall acts as a de facto mirror, reflecting the view from the adjacent window. If you want to enhance the effect and don't need the extra storage, hang a vintage mirror above the bar instead. If you don't want to stare at yourself while you eat, hang the mirror so the bottom edge is just above eye level when seated.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Incorporate Peekaboo Windows
Interior designer Maite Granda carved an efficient galley kitchen into a sprawling Florida home that is partially divided off from the main living space with peekaboo shelving and long, narrow windows above the sink and high up near the ceiling above the cabinets to let in natural light. If you don't have the option of installing windows in your galley kitchen, try a mirrored backsplash instead.
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In this streamlined and contemporary double galley style kitchen designed by Sebastian Cox for deVOL Kitchens, black wood cabinetry with a Shou Sugi Ban aesthetic adds depth and contrast against the pale walls and flooring. The room's abundance of natural light keeps the dark wood from feeling heavy.
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Dress It in Black and White
In this modern galley-style San Diego, CA, kitchen from interior designer Cathie Hong of Cathie Hong Interiors, black lower cabinets on both sides of the wide kitchen add a grounding element. Bright white walls, ceilings, and naked windows keep it light and bright. A simple gray tile floor, stainless steel appliances, and bronze accents complete the clean design. A single pot railing fills a blank space on the wall while providing a convenient place to hang everyday items, but you could also swap that out for a large-scale photograph or piece of art.
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Keep It Light
While having adequate storage is always a bonus, there is no need to add more than you need, which will only encourage you to accumulate more stuff that you probably don't need. In this generously proportioned galley kitchen design by deVOL Kitchens, appliances, cabinetry, and countertops are confined to one wall, leaving space for a large dining table and chairs on the other. The glass table has a light profile that keeps the focus on the garden view.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Add an Interior Window
In this galley kitchen design by deVOL Kitchens, an atelier-style interior window with black metal framing over the sink allows natural light from the entryway on the other side to stream in and creates a sense of openness both in the kitchen and in the adjacent hallway. The interior window also reflects the natural light streaming in from the large window at the far end of the kitchen, making the relatively small and contained space feel more expansive.
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Preserve Original Features
This adobe-style home and Los Angeles historical landmark built in 1922 from estate agent and interior designer Julian Porcino features a carefully updated galley-style kitchen that maintains the original character of the home. Copper pendant lighting, a hammered copper farmhouse sink, and black stone countertops complement and keep the focus on original architectural details like warm dark stained beams and window casings. The kitchen island accommodates the oven and stovetop, while bar seating creates an updated feel.
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Use a Soft Palette
In this galley kitchen designed by deVOL Kitchens, a large cased opening allows natural light from the adjacent room to flow in. To maximize space, the designers ran cabinetry and a built-in hood vent all the way up to the ceiling. A soft palette of off white, mint green, and natural wood keeps it feeling light and airy.