Plan… Galley and linear kitchens are the obvious choice for narrow rooms but can be the star of larger spaces, too
So much has changed in the way we design and use our kitchens over the last decade, but there’s something reassuring in how the galley layout has adapted to the new-found sense of space, and thrived. Named after a ship’s kitchen, galleys were originally designed to be both compact, ergonomic and ultra-efficient, maximizing every inch of space for both storage and preparation. Professional kitchens also follow a similar linear plan with rows of cookers or hobs divided into specific stations for prepping different types of dishes. Where there’s room for a parallel run of units – a double galley – you can introduce the classic work triangle, arranging the key task zones of fridge, cooker and sink in this pattern to cut down on the legwork. This is not only successful in narrow rooms that have enough width to take two rows of units, however. It’s exactly the format that’s so popular in open-plan spaces, with along island providing the second leg, often creating a sociable casual seating area and a natural boundary for the kitchen zone at the same time.
Maximizing Kitchen Space
- Tall Stories
Open-plan kitchens and capacious islands are partly to blame for wall units falling out of fashion – when you’ve got oodles of space, it’s easy to see why you would want to keep the look open and not have to reach overhead for everything. But wall units will always have a valid place in a narrow room where you can make the most of the height and still have usable work surface. Popular options include lift-up doors and tall, sleek fat-fronted ones in a striking material. But, if you’re really not a fan of cupboards, try open shelving or even cubbyholes.
- Storage walls
In double galleys, storage ‘walls’ or ‘banks’ are a great solution for both open-plan and closed schemes, giving over the whole wall to a combination of storage and appliances. Opt for a pull-out larder or pantry cupboard, which both have narrow shelving, making items easily visible. And it makes sense to group built-in equipment, such as ovens, microwaves and coffee machine, in a column, row or block. If you need extra workspace, ft a bank at one end of the run only, or two running symmetrically either side of a work zone housing the hob, sink or both, depending on the length of the run. When allocating storage, group types of products together and remember to reserve the prime locations nearest the hub of the kitchen for regularly used dishes, ingredients and appliances. A well-organized kitchen will save you precious time so be ruthless when you decide what goes where, and cut out unwanted clutter. ‘Think through carefully how you will use the surfaces, storage and the appliances together,’ suggests Patrick Walls from Soup Architects. ‘Don’t try and cram too much in and select the integrated appliances early in the process to help the designer and manufacturer to maintain minimal detail.’
- Drawers vs Cupboards
A mix of both will serve you well in any kitchen and can be designed in such a way that any handles and all the cabinetry lines align.Drawers are great for pots, pans, chinaware and condiments as you can pack a lot into the space and still access it easily. Fitting drawers under the hob also puts the maximum range of utensils, dishes and herbs and spices to hand. Cupboards excel at hiding larger pieces of kit, including food mixers and perhaps even a freestanding microwave. It’s important to reserve adequate surface area near the hob and oven, fridge and sink to unpack food and put down food dishes. And you’ll need a separate larger area for preparation with room to spread out ingredients, dishes and utensils. This is often best placed on the island and can double up for serving.
- Clearing the way
Don’t forget to calculate adequate clearance room for opening doors and drawers properly and give careful consideration to what’s placed directly opposite appliances, such as the oven and dishwasher. Plan for a walkway of at least 1m wide between two rows of cupboards, slightly more for a single run and the wall. ‘We often suggest smaller cabinet doors – for example, three at 400mm instead of two at 600mm – so you can still get past them,’ says Tomas Hinton of Tomas Kitchens Plus. Also, beware of the dishwasher door that blocks the entire walkway when fully open. If your space is really cramped and of-the-shelf cabinet dimensions just don’t work, a bespoke scheme may be a worthwhile investment, providing the optimum use of space as well as some clever design solutions.
- Making it Sociable
A place to sit seems to inch ever nearer the top of most wish lists and needs careful thought in a small narrow room. There’s often opportunity at the end of the room if you have a blank wall. But even if there are doors either end, and the room is essentially a corridor, don’t give up hope. Where space allows, try to reserve a breakfast bar area, even it’s only big enough to tuck a couple of stools under. If the room is not quite wide enough for a double run of units, consider a narrow second run with shallow base cupboards or even open shelving beneath a narrow worktop. This will still provide lots of extra storage, prep and serving space. If your kitchen is open-plan, design the island to be wide enough to include an overhang with bar stools, or look at a variable height unit where one end drops down to table height for comfortable dining. Make this the end that houses the fridge, wine cooler and coffee machine, and all the necessary services will be right where you need them. Planning is Everything A good kitchen space designer will be able to come up with ideas for the trickiest of spaces but, if you feel you want to explore the room’s.