Designing a new kitchen is an exciting endeavour, and for those working with limited space, the galley kitchen layout offers a practical and efficient solution. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of galley kitchen design styles and ideas, giving you inspiration and guidance for creating your dream kitchen. From understanding what defines a galley kitchen, giving you lots of useful narrow kitchen design ideas, to suggesting creative design strategies, our UK design and build team will cover it all!

What is a Galley Kitchen?

A galley kitchen is a unique and efficient layout characterised by its long, narrow design with parallel countertops, cabinets, and appliances. Originating from the compact kitchens found on ships and aeroplanes, the galley kitchen maximises space utilization while presenting a streamlined and functional workspace. Despite its space-saving advantages, designing an aesthetically pleasing and functional galley kitchen can present challenges that require thoughtful consideration.

How Do I Make My Galley Kitchen More Functional?

Create Spaciousness with Directional Flooring

A galley kitchen with directional flooring.

Your type of kitchen flooring can significantly impact the perception of space in a galley kitchen. Choose flooring with directional patterns, such as diagonal tiles or hardwood planks laid parallel to the longest walls. As you can see in this Fawnbrake Avenue kitchen design, the long, wider planks deliver an optical illusion that creates a sense of movement and visually expands the dimensions of the narrow galley kitchen.

Choose Vertical Storage to Make More of Your Space

A galley kitchen with vertical storage.

Given the limited horizontal space in a galley kitchen, making use of vertical space is essential. Incorporate floor-to-ceiling cabinets to maximise storage capacity like in this Broomwood Road kitchen extension. This design choice not only provides ample storage but also draws the eye upward, creating an illusion of height and spaciousness in the kitchen. And a bonus? No dusty, hard-to-clean cabinet tops!

Lose Cupboards for Open Shelving

A galley kitchen with open shelving.

For a more open and airy feel, consider replacing some upper cabinets with open shelving. This not only contributes to a visually lighter aesthetic but also allows for easy access to frequently used items, as you can see in this Mandrake Road galley kitchen design. Arrange your favourite cookware and accessories on the shelves to personalise the space and showcase your culinary style.

Keep Appliances Out of Sight

Galley kitchen with a scullery to keep appliances out of sight.

To maintain a clean and uncluttered look, consider integrating appliances seamlessly into the cabinetry. Panel-ready dishwashers and refrigerators with custom cabinet fronts create a cohesive aesthetic while concealing functional elements. You could also build on a laundry room or scullery to house your appliances near enough the kitchen for convenience while freeing up space in the kitchen itself. This approach, which we used in this Crawthew kitchen extension, contributes to a streamlined and organised appearance in the galley. 

Make the Space More Sociable

Galley kitchen with seating on the kitchen island.

Even in a galley kitchen, it’s essential to create a space that encourages social interaction. Designate a cosy corner or incorporate a small breakfast nook with a stylish table and chairs. Or you can put seating onto your kitchen island like in this Wigglesworth kitchen extension. This not only adds a touch of intimacy but also transforms the kitchen into a more inviting and communal space, making it a central hub for family and friends.

Work a Galley Kitchen into an Open-Plan Living Space

A galley kitchen integrated into an open-plan living space.

For a more expansive and versatile layout, consider integrating your galley kitchen into an open-plan living space, as we did in this Muswell Avenue kitchen extension. This seamless transition enhances the flow between the kitchen and adjoining areas, creating a sense of continuity and openness. Consistent design elements and colour schemes help maintain visual harmony throughout the entire space.

Go All White to Open Up a Narrow Space

A galley kitchen with an all white colour scheme.

Colour has a profound impact on the perception of space, making it a crucial element in galley kitchen design. To create a bright and open atmosphere, consider an all-white colour scheme. White reflects light, making the room feel larger and airy. Choose white cabinets, countertops, and appliances to achieve a cohesive and visually expansive look. The result is a galley kitchen that feels open and inviting.

Create Flow with Curved Edged Cabinetry

The straight lines inherent in galley kitchen layouts can sometimes contribute to a monotonous feel. Injecting a sense of flow and elegance can be achieved by incorporating curved edged cabinetry. These curved elements not only break the visual monotony but also add a touch of sophistication to the space. The result is a galley kitchen that is both functional and visually pleasing.

Maximise Space by Removing Doors

In the pursuit of efficiency, consider removing cabinet doors to open up the space visually. Open shelving not only provides easy access to essentials but also contributes to a more spacious and open feel. This minimalist approach not only enhances accessibility but also allows you to showcase your favourite kitchenware, adding a personal touch to the design.

Add Colour and Texture with Kitchen Wallpaper

Introducing colour and texture through kitchen wallpaper is a creative way to make a design statement in a galley kitchen. Whether opting for a subtle pattern or a bold print, wallpaper can add personality and dimension to the space. This is an excellent option for those looking to experiment with design elements without committing to permanent changes.

Focus Lighting on Key Prep Spaces

Proper lighting is crucial in any kitchen, and in a galley layout, it becomes even more significant. Install task lighting under cabinets and above key work areas to ensure ample illumination for food preparation. Pendant lights above countertops serve a dual purpose, providing both functionality and a stylish design element.

Embrace Large-Scale Glazing to Increase Natural Light

If possible, incorporate windows, skylights, or glass doors into your galley kitchen design to maximise natural light. Natural light not only enhances the overall ambience but also creates the illusion of a larger and more inviting space. Consider installing skylights or strategically placing large windows to flood the kitchen with sunlight, creating a bright and welcoming atmosphere.

Use a Slim Kitchen Island

While a traditional island may not be suitable for a narrow galley kitchen, a slim or narrow kitchen island can offer additional counter space and storage without compromising the flow. Choose a design with built-in storage or a pull-out countertop extension for added functionality. The slim profile ensures that the island complements rather than obstructs the workspace.

Incorporate a Plate Rack

Free up cabinet space and add a touch of charm by incorporating a plate rack into your galley kitchen design. A plate rack not only provides a designated space for your dinnerware but also serves as a decorative element. It’s a practical solution for those who want to combine functionality with a touch of traditional kitchen style.

Stretch Your Space with a Side Extension

A galley kitchen enlarged with a side extension.

For those willing to make a more significant investment, a side extension can be a transformative addition to a galley kitchen, as you can see in this St Anns Road kitchen extension. This architectural enhancement not only expands the physical dimensions of the kitchen but also provides an opportunity to introduce larger windows or doors. This, in turn, enhances natural light and establishes a stronger connection with the outdoors, making the kitchen feel more spacious and welcoming. Side returns are often unused, neglected space, and a kitchen side extension adds so much value and lifestyle benefits to your home! And the best part? You don’t need an architect for your kitchen extension.

Designing a galley kitchen requires a balance between form and function, and with careful consideration, this layout can result in a space that is both stylish and efficient. By incorporating these creative design ideas, you can transform your galley kitchen into a personalised and functional hub that meets your specific needs and reflects your aesthetic preferences. Whether you’re looking to maximise space, introduce colour and texture, or enhance sociability, these ideas provide a comprehensive guide for creating the galley kitchen of your dreams. Remember, even in a narrow space, innovation and thoughtful design can lead to a kitchen renovation that is both visually stunning and highly practical.

See more kitchen design ideas here.

Plus Rooms – Design and Build Your Kitchen Extension with Us

At Plus Rooms, we are a full-service design and build company for all types of home extensions in the greater London area, including loft, kitchen, and kitchen diner extensions. We’ll work with you through the entire process, from costing your extension to designing your kitchen and managing planning permission for your kitchen extension, building the project, and ensuring that it is completed to your satisfaction. Be inspired by our kitchen extension design ideas and client reviews, and start your journey towards the exceptional home you deserve.