Galley Kitchen: Make This Simple Layout Work For You

Classic One-Aisle Galley Kitchen
Steve Cole / Getty Images

Think that galley kitchen has less-than-luxurious connotations? Yes, the name should be changed, as it evokes images of tiny propane stoves on sailboats (it is often called a corridor-style kitchen, too).

Shifted to land, the galley kitchen is a classic and it's about as ergonomically-correct as you can get. It works beautifully with your remodeling--and your eventual cooking needs. Find out why this simple, inexpensive, DIY-able kitchen layout may be just what you need:

What Is It?

A galley kitchen is defined as a long, narrow kitchen that has counters on either side of a central walkway. The counters can be interspersed with appliances, sink, cabinetry and other functional items.

What Benefits Does This Layout Have?

Galley kitchens are, by nature, small. So, you have the cost-saving benefits of size. Also, galley kitchens are ergonomically superior to other kitchen design layouts.

  • You save space in your house for other rooms.
  • Because countertops are one of the most expensive elements in the kitchen, this cost is drastically minimized.
  • The major kitchen services (water, electrical, etc.) are kept together.
  • An excellent use of the kitchen triangle design.
  • You save money because you can use stock kitchen cabinets.

Can I Remodel My Galley Kitchen Myself?

Yes. A typical galley kitchen might range from 100-150 square feet, a very manageable size for a DIY remodeling job. Because floor space is reduced--most of it taken over by base cabinets--you can probably install the flooring yourself.  

What Are Some Tips?

The galley kitchen can be remodeled much like any other kitchen, but there are a few exceptions. Take note of the following:

  1. Use Kitchen Designs Appropriate for the Galley Kitchen. Kitchen islands, breakfast bars, and other similar things only suck away room from the galley kitchen. You’ll need to keep the galley kitchen to the basics: upper and lower cabinets, counters, refrigerator, sink, stove/oven, and possibly a dishwasher.
  2. Watch the Sink. Huge farmhouse sinks or sinks angled at 45 degrees are great ways to waste space. Instead, look for scaled-down sinks and keep sinks parallel to the counters.
  3. Find 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. If storage isn’t all that important to you, then pull the cabinets down six 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.
  4. Consider Blocking Off a Window. This is one of the more painful decisions to make. Does the window give you ample light and air? If not—and if you really need cabinets—you can install a drywall “plug” over the window, and then run the cabinets right across.
  5. Use Light and Neutral Shades. 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.