What Is a Galley Kitchen?

Galley kitchen with marble coynterops and stainless steel appliances

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

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.

Galley Kitchen

A galley kitchen is a long, narrow kitchen layout with services on one or both sides. An aisle runs down the center of a galley kitchen. Sometimes, the galley kitchen deadends at one end or it can be a pass-through kitchen.

Galley Kitchen Basics

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.

The countertops can be interspersed with appliances like fridges, sinks, cabinetry, and other functional items.

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 Kitchen Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Space savers

  • Lower overall cost

  • Tight cluster of essential kitchen services

  • Good use of classic kitchen triangle design

  • Less kitchen flooring to purchase and install

  • Perfect for do-it-yourself remodeling

  • Lower cost on cabinets and counters means more money for other items

Cons
  • Not good for more than two cooks at a time

  • Less countertop space

  • Lower resale value

  • Standard sink configurations only

  • Hard to find space for larger size appliances

  • Poor traffic flow when it's a dead-end galley kitchen (open only on one end)

Pros

Galley kitchens save space for other rooms in your house. Galley kitchens are an excellent use of the tight, step-saving kitchen triangle design.

Because countertops and cabinets are the most expensive elements in the kitchen, this cost is drastically minimized since the space is smaller. Less floor space means less kitchen flooring that you need to purchase.

The major kitchen services such as water, electrical, and gas are clustered in the same area.

Since galley kitchens are smaller, they tend to be ideal for do-it-yourself remodeling.

Finally, because you don't have to spend as much money on pricey countertops, cabinets, and flooring, more money is freed up to spend on appliances, the sink, or on other parts of your house.

Cons

Galley kitchens tend to be tight for two 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 to avoid overcrowding galley kitchens.

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.

Minimize 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.

Use Space-Saving Devices

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. But doing so can provide more flexibility when laying out the galley kitchen.

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.

Watch Now: Designer Kitchen Tips

Article Sources
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  1. The Galley Kitchen Is Hot: The Increasing Appeal Of Smaller Cooking Spaces. National Kitchen and Bath Association