If there is ever a misunderstood—and often wrongly maligned—kitchen layout, it would have to be the galley or corridor kitchen. Even its names do little to instill confidence, with galley evoking images of boats and corridor calling to mind school or office hallways.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Firmly planted on land, the galley kitchen is a classic kitchen layout that's versatile, durable, simple, and about as ergonomically correct as you can get.
A galley kitchen works beautifully with both your remodeling needs and your eventual cooking needs. Even though galley kitchens usually fit the need for small kitchen spaces, you might even want to consider installing one in a larger space simply because it works so well.
What a Galley Kitchen Is
A galley kitchen is a long, narrow kitchen that has base cabinets, wall cabinets, counters, or other services located on one or both sides of a central walkway. Less often a galley is called a corridor kitchen because its main traffic lane is a long, narrow aisle.
Since galley kitchens are small, they tend to be less expensive to build or remodel than with other kitchen layouts. Also, galley kitchens are ergonomically better than some other kitchen design layouts since key services are clustered around each other. This means that walking toward or reaching for items between the refrigerator, stove/oven, and sink is kept to a minimum.
Galley Kitchens Pros and Cons
Galley kitchens save space for other rooms in your house.
Because countertops and cabinets are the most expensive elements in the kitchen, this cost is drastically minimized since the space is smaller.
The major kitchen services such as water, electrical, and gas are clustered in the same area.
Galley kitchens are an excellent use of the tight, step-saving kitchen triangle design.
Less floor space means less kitchen flooring that you need to purchase.
Since galley kitchens are smaller, they tend to be ideal for do-it-yourself remodeling.
Galley kitchens tend to be tight for two or more cooks working at the same time.
Countertop space is limited in galley kitchens because there are fewer base cabinets.
Resale value tends to be lower for galley kitchens than for other kitchen layouts.
Atypical sink configurations such as 45-degree angles are not possible.
Appliances usually should be kept to standard sizes.
Galley Kitchen Design Considerations
Keep to the Basics
Kitchen islands, breakfast bars, and other similar things only take away room from the galley kitchen.
When building or remodeling a galley kitchen, stay with basics such as upper and lower cabinets, counters, refrigerator, sink, stove/oven, and a dishwasher. In most galley kitchens, it is impossible to build a permanent, full-size kitchen island, but a mobile island at the end of the kitchen may be a good compromise.
Be Mindful of Sink Size
Huge farmhouse sinks or sinks angled at 45-degrees are difficult to fit into galley kitchens.
Instead, look for scaled-down sinks and keep sinks parallel to the counters. Drop-in sinks with built-in rims take away even more countertop space. Instead, consider installing an undermount sink so that the countertop can extend all of the ways to the sink edge.
Discover Creative Space-Saving Ideas
Pushing kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling maximizes storage space. Though this does tend to create an imposing presence, you'll get as much storage as possible in this tiny space.
If storage isn’t all that important to you, then pull the cabinets down a few inches to give you more breathing room. Use lazy-susans and roll-out shelves to better utilize that often-wasted space at the back of cabinets.
Consider Blocking a Window
Losing a window is one of the more painful decisions to make, and it's a permanent one.
Does the window give you ample light and air? If not—and if you really need cabinets—you can install a drywall cover over the window, and then run the cabinets right across. This cover must be treated like any other wall system with drywall, insulation, house sheathing, house wrap, siding, and paint.
Think About Aisle or Walkway Width
The aisle or walkway running the length of a galley kitchen is its backbone. But it can become very narrow when several people are moving through the kitchen.
Even more importantly, accessibility can become a problem for those who use wheelchairs or walkers. If aisle width is an issue, consider clustering all of the services on one side of the kitchen only.
Use Light and Neutral Colors
Lighter tones will make your galley kitchen feel much larger. You can use brighter shades for nearly everything in your galley kitchen: counters, cabinets, flooring, wall paint, and even appliances.
Unstained or lightly stained maple, birch, and bamboo are good materials for cabinets if you want to keep colors brighter and lighter.