Kitchen Layout Guide

The shape or layout of the kitchen is often determined by the existing structural elements within the home. If your budget permits, you can alter these structural elements to suit your lifestyle and needs. If however, your budget is is limited, then some careful thought and planning is required because some layouts are not suitable for certain tasks. This guide will help you determine the best shape for your needs.

The L shaped kitchen

The L shaped kitchen is also known as a corner, two wall and peninsula kitchen. It can be defined as kitchen cabinets being attached to 2 adjacent walls at right angles to each other. If one leg of the cabinetry is not attached to a wall, it is still an L shape but the proper term for this run of cabinets is known as a ‘peninsula’. (See Fig 2)

L shaped kitchen illustration

An illustration of a standard L shaped kitchen

This kitchen (See Fig 1) is the most popular type of kitchen layout. As far as the ideal work triangle is concerned it works efficiently for one cook as long as the L is not too big. If space permits it can easily incorporate a dining table, meals area or the much coveted kitchen island. More often than not, this type of kitchen layout opens onto an adjoining room making it the perfect kitchen for socialising with family and friends.


  • there is no through traffic to interrupt the work triangle
  • efficient for one cook as long as the work triangle does not exceed 7 metres
  • you can incorporate a kitchen island if the room is large enough

It can support two cooks if you decide to incorporate a kitchen island with this layout. If this is your aim, consider fitting a prep sink, kitchen sink, oven or cooktop in the island for maximum benefit.


  • Inefficient if the kitchen is large
  • Not ideal for 2 or more cooks
The Planet kitchen by Varenna (Poliform) Photo 3

Fig 1. An L shaped kitchen. Image Credit – Poliform

The Planet kitchen by Varenna (Poliform) Photo 1

Fig 2. An L shaped kitchen with peninsula. Image Credit – Poliform

Clients often complain about accessibility into the corner base cabinets with this type of layout. There are many ways to overcome this problem. If the room is large enough you could forgo the storage space and have a void in the offending corner. Alternatively if you are lacking storage space, consider using a swing-out corner unit specifically designed for this type of problem.

The kitchen island

The kitchen island can be used in combination with a single wall, galley, L shaped, U shaped and a peninsula kitchen.

This kitchen layout is ideal for more than one cook. The island can double as a food preparation area, cooking, dining or entertaining area.

Island kitchen


  • Seriously, do I have to spell this out? This is kitchen nirvana!


  • Everybody wants one but few can have it. You need a large amount of room to accommodate an island.

 The U shaped kitchen

Also known as a three wall, c shaped  and j shaped kitchen.

The U shaped kitchen is the most efficient and versatile. It is compact and efficient, especially for one cook.

U shaped kitchen

Featuring maximum counter space on three sides, this kitchen offers plenty of preparation, storage and serving space.


  • no through traffic
  • compact and efficient


  • not good for socialising

The peninsula kitchen

This kitchen shape really lends itself to open plan kitchens. A peninsula is attached to one wall of a kitchen. It adds extra cabinetry without adding a wall. It is a good solution when you have plenty of floor space but have a shortage of walls.

Peninsula kitchens can act as a room divider as well as diverting traffic away from the work triangle.

Peninsula kitchen


  • adds additional counter space and cabinetry
  • works well for open plan kitchens


  • none that I can see

The galley kitchen

Also known as a corridor and parallel kitchen.

The galley kitchen is ideally suited to rooms where there are opposed doors or windows. Suitable for rooms with a minimum depth of 2400mm. (600mm counter + 1200mm clearance + 600mm counter = 2400mm). The 1200mm clearance is to stop hitting the opposing cabinetry when bending over.

Galley kitchen

It is an efficient kitchen for one cook but watch out for through traffic!


  • everything is in close proximity


  • work triangle can be broken by through traffic
  • limited design options

The single wall kitchen

Also known as  linear, single line and one wall kitchen.

The one wall kitchen is ideally suited to narrow rooms. It is the simplest solution where space is limited. Due to the limited counter space of single wall kitchens, it is best to keep the oven under the counter. When designing the layout you should try to design a 1200mm (minimum) landing space between the sink and cooktop and have at least a 1200mm space in front of the run of kitchen cabinets so that you can move freely even when the base cabinet doors are open.

Single wall kitchen plan

Normally you would find the fridge located at one end of the kitchen layout and there is usually a lot more walking between appliances as there is no kitchen work triangle. An example where you would often find this type of kitchen would be in a hotel room.


  • takes up little room


  • longer area to cover by walking
  • limited counter space