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Best Kitchen Layout Ideas

Light filled kitchen with black quartz countertop

Whether you’re planning a kitchen renovation or designing a new space, understanding the best kitchen layout ideas for your lifestyle and home is crucial.

In this guide, we’ll explore kitchen layout drawings and how to use the kitchen work triangle concept to optimize space and efficiency during food prep. Whether you have a galley kitchen, a U-shaped kitchen or a kitchen layout with an island, the kitchen configuration you choose is the first important step in achieving a functional space you’ll look forward to cooking in.

Kitchen Work Triangle and Traffic Flow

When planning efficient movement between work zones in your kitchen, consider the kitchen work triangle. This concept involves positioning the three main work areas—refrigerator, sink, and stove (cooktop)—in a triangular layout. The goal is to minimize steps between these zones, ensuring seamless movement during food prep, cooking, and cleanup. By optimizing the placement of these elements, you’ll create an efficient and functional kitchen space.

Common Kitchen Layout Types

Explore these 5 popular kitchen layout ideas:

Kitchen Layouts with Island

A kitchen triangle diagram for an island kitchen is shown.

✔  Includes a central island for extra workspace, prep and kitchen electronics.

✔  Consider plumbing the sink and dishwasher into the island for a triangular workflow between all kitchen appliances.

✔  Kitchen layouts with an island are ideal for socializing especially when there is seating for work prep or quick meals.

✔  Requires sufficient floor space.

Galley Kitchen Layouts

A kitchen triangle diagram for a galley kitchen is shown.

✔  Long and narrow with parallel counters.

✔  Galley layouts are ideal for smaller kitchens to help maximize wall space.

✔  Efficient workflow but limited social interaction.

L-Shaped Kitchen Layouts

A kitchen triangle diagram for an L-shaped kitchen is shown.

✔  Forms an “L” with two adjacent walls or cabinets.

✔  Provides ample countertop surface.

✔  Great for open-concept homes and small kitchen layouts by optimizing corner spaces.

U-Shaped Kitchen Layouts

A kitchen triangle diagram for a U-shaped kitchen is shown.

✔  Three walls or cabinets create a U shape, also known as a horseshoe layout.

✔  U-shaped kitchen layouts maximize storage and prep areas.

✔  Suitable for larger kitchens, but can also be adapted for smaller kitchen layouts which aren’t open concept.

Open Concept Kitchen Layouts

A kitchen triangle diagram for an open-concept kitchen is shown.

✔  Open concept kitchen layouts integrate  with your existing living or dining areas.

✔  Creates a spacious, connected feel throughout the whole space.

✔  Ideal for entertaining larger groups.

Kitchen Traffic Flow:

  • Arrange key elements (sink, stove, refrigerator, prep area) in a seamless flow that suits your cooking style.
  • Prioritize efficiency to save time and energy.
  • If you cook frequently, ensure ample counter space and easy access to the stove and oven.
  • Optimize storage for utensils, pots, and pans.
  • For social gatherings, prioritize open layouts and ample seating areas. Islands can serve as focal points for both cooking and socializing.

Kitchen Walkway Distance:

  • To avoid congestion in your kitchen, focus on optimizing pathways and flow. Ample walkways (at least 48 inches wide) prevent bottlenecks.
  • To accommodate a wheelchair or mobility aid, provide 60 inch wide clearance.
  • Open kitchen layouts with islands and no closed corners allow easy circulation.
  • Clearance between counters, appliances, and storage areas ensures smooth movement so that when multiple appliance doors are open at once there’s enough clearance between them.


Standard Kitchen Dimensions:

  • When planning a kitchen layout, ensure comfortable heights for various elements. Standard countertop height is around 36 inches (91 cm) above a finished floor for most adults.
  • Adjust based on your height and preferences. Position appliances like ovens, microwaves, and dishwashers at convenient distances for easy access without bumping into each other.
  • For upper cabinets, aim for a height of 15-18 inches (38-46 cm) above countertops to ensure they’re accessible without straining.

Kitchen Storage Needs:

  • When planning your kitchen layout, evaluate cabinet space, drawers, and pantry organization. Take stock of each cabinet and pantry, identifying items that are rarely used, duplicates, or no longer serve a purpose.
  • Next – or if you are planning a new kitchen layout - consider your storage needs: think about deep drawers for pots and pans, pantry space for food storage, and built-in dividers for utensils.
  • Maximize efficiency by exploring innovative ideas such as pull-out shelves, hidden trash bins and custom drawer inserts to declutter and streamline your kitchen.
A small kitchen is shown with seafoam green cabinets and a table with chairs.

Small Kitchen Layout Ideas

When planning the layout for a small kitchen, there are a few things to consider that can help you maximize space and functionality. Here are some small kitchen layout ideas to help get you started with your plan.

Be sure to utilize every available space by installing pull-out pantry shelving, vertical dividers for baking sheets and even hooks for hanging pots and pans. Use the inside of cabinet doors for spice racks or utensil storage.

A small built-in oven and gas top stove is shown.

Small Kitchen Appliances

Consider using compact appliances that are designed for smaller spaces. Slimline dishwashers, narrow fridges and compact stovetops can help save you valuable floor space, while built-in microwaves can give you more room on your countertops.

An open concept cabinet decorated with kitchen accessories is shown.

Open Shelving in Small Kitchens

Open shelving can also be a great addition if your kitchen has limited cabinetry. Not only do they give you more storage space, but they also create an open, airy feeling. Combine this with light coloured paint and accent colours to really make the space feel more open and larger.

A small wooden island is shown.

Small Kitchen Layout with an Island

Finally, if your small kitchen plans include an island, opt for a slim-profile island to give you the countertop space you need, while saving you floor space and making it easier to navigate your kitchen.

Kitchen Layout Design Tips

Follow these tips to avoid common kitchen layout mistakes in the kitchen:

Kitchen Work Triangle

The work triangle optimizes the arrangement between the stove, sink, and refrigerator. These three points form the core of kitchen activity. Keep the distance between them balanced: not too close to cause congestion, but not too far to hinder efficiency. Imagine drawing lines connecting these appliances – they should form a triangle. Adjust the layout to minimize unnecessary steps during cooking and food prep.

Avoid Poor Traffic Flow

Group similar functions together to create efficient work zones. For example:

Cooking Zone

Position the cooking range, oven and microwave close to each other. Consider landing zones with countertop space of 18 inches on either side of your stove or cooking surface for food prep.

Prep Zone

Locate the sink, cutting boards, and utensils in proximity. This area should facilitate easy food preparation.

Cleanup Zone

Place the dishwasher, trash bin, organic compost bin and cleaning supplies near the sink for seamless cleanup.

Avoid Poor Lighting

Optimize your kitchen workspaces with proper task lighting and ambient lighting.

Task lighting under kitchen cabinets.

Task Lighting

Install focused lights above work areas like the stove, sink, and countertops. This ensures clear visibility during cooking and prep.

Pendant lights hanging over a kitchen island.

Ambient Lighting

Use softer lighting over dining areas to create a pleasant atmosphere. Pendant lights or chandeliers work well for this purpose.

A kitchen with double windows.

Natural Light

Maximize natural light by designing the space around windows strategically. It enhances the overall feel of the kitchen and reduces reliance on artificial lighting.

Kitchen Finishes & Details

A mail file folder hung inside a kitchen cabinet door.

Consider a Family Kitchen Command Centre

Some kitchen layouts include a hidden kitchen command centre with a cupboard or area for mail, receipts and paperwork that often gets dumped on countertops. It’s a clever way to keep your kitchen clutter-free and create clear sightlines in an open-concept kitchen.

Dekton kitchen countertop pictured.

Kitchen Materials

Countertops: Choose durable materials like granite, quartz, Dekton or solid surface kitchencountertops. These withstand daily wear and tear.

Backsplashes: Consider materials like glass, ceramic, or natural stone. They protect walls from splashes and add visual appeal.

Close up of engineered hardwood in a kitchen.

Kitchen Flooring

Opt for resilient flooring options such as ceramic tiles, engineered hardwood, or vinyl. They should be easy to clean and resistant to spills.

Kitchen with dark green and grey cabinetry.

Colour Palette

Coordinate colours for a cohesive look. Stick to a harmonious colour scheme throughout the kitchen. Lighter shades create an open, airy feel, while darker tones add warmth and coziness.

Balance bold colours with neutrals to avoid overwhelming the space. Consider the overall aesthetic and your personal preferences.

Kitchen Layout Ideas FAQ

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