When designing a kitchen, the layout is one of the biggest decisions you need to make. While this is often guided by the shape of the kitchen area, you should also consider how to use the space most efficiently. This is particularly true if you are working with limited space as usability and storage will be at a premium.
The good news is some kitchen shapes are better suited to certain areas. Certain shapes will also better fit your requirements and working style. Here we explore the different kitchen shapes and how to choose the best one for your home.
What are the main kitchen shapes?
While each kitchen design will vary slightly, the overall shape will fall into one of four general categories:
This is the simplest layout, with all the cabinetry placed along a single wall. This shape is most popular in smaller properties (e.g. apartments) as it requires minimal space. However, such simplicity needs to be carefully planned to make sure it provides all the required functionality.
This layout, designed to make the best use of a narrow space, features cabinetry along two parallel walls. Sometimes referred to as a ‘walkthrough kitchen’, this shape is particularly popular in longer, thinner properties (e.g. terraces). The best galley kitchens balance the need for storage and bench space with light and visual relief, making the space feel less overwhelming.
This is arguably the most common shape and suits many different sized kitchen spaces. As cabinetry is placed along two walls in an L shape, it’s an open design that can easily accommodate multiple cooks. It is quite a practical layout, but the placement and spacing of different work zones need to be carefully considered.
As the name suggests, this layout features three walls of cabinetry forming a U (or horseshoe) shape. This shape is particularly popular in older style homes as it can easily be created by opening up a wall. When planning a U-shaped kitchen, it’s best to limit the distance between the different work zones.
In addition to the above, kitchen designs might also include an island bench. Islands are extremely popular here in Australia and help make the kitchen space more social. As such, they are great if you love to entertain, and your living space is open plan.
Which shape is the most efficient?
More often than not, the shape will be dictated predominantly by the existing space – especially if no walls are being removed or relocated.
Experienced designers will always work with the existing space and have solutions that address the specific needs of the client. These may include things like improving flow and or functionality such as increasing storage or having more space for food preparation. They will also address concerns like helping to make space more family orientated, or better suited for entertaining.
As you can see, each kitchen shape has its good and bad points. Each shape also has its spaces and home styles that it is most suited to. As such, there is no set ‘best kitchen shape’.
L shaped and U shaped kitchens have corner cupboards and these are often criticised for being hard to access and dark. These days there are plenty of options to help overcome these problems.
That being said, most designers recommend keeping your kitchen shape simple. Depending on your home’s floor plan, this usually means a one wall (possibly with an island bench) or galley kitchen. When done well, these designs are usually the most functional and use the space most efficiently.
Importantly, neither of these shapes feature corner cabinetry. While there are now plenty of ways to work with a corner, most don’t fully optimise the space. And those that do (like corner lazy susans) generally add additional costs to your cabinetry budget.
Need help planning your kitchen shape?
If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen but aren’t sure where to start, give Zesta Kitchens a call. Our team of experienced designers are experts in getting the most from any kitchen area. We also offer a free design consultation service and can guide you through the whole planning process.