Galley Kitchen Ideas: Practical & Chic Kitchen Layout Designs

A galley kitchen is a classic yet practical kitchen layout that makes the most of a narrow footprint. With cabinets and countertops lining each side and an open corridor down the middle, galley kitchens are space-efficient and allow for easy movement. Though galley kitchens are narrow, they can also look quite chic with the right design choices. Here we’ll explore lots of inspiring galley kitchen ideas, layouts, and designs to make your galley kitchen as functional and stylish as possible.

Introduction to Galley Kitchen Layouts

A galley kitchen gets its name from the galley kitchens commonly found on ships, trains, and airplanes. Just like a ship galley, a residential galley kitchen has a narrow footprint with appliances, cabinets, and countertops lining each side.

The typical galley kitchen layout places the sink and refrigerator on one side with the stove and oven on the other. Upper cabinets provide essential storage overhead. Galley kitchens are usually no more than 10 feet wide, though the length is variable. This narrow corridor layout minimizes steps between cooking stations but also limits room for multiple cooks.

Benefits of a Galley Kitchen Layout

There are several advantages that make galley kitchens a smart choice for many homes:

  • Efficiency. The galley layout cuts down on unnecessary steps, making meal prep more efficient. Everything is within arm’s reach.
  • Space. Galley kitchens maximize space in a narrow area. The layout is a great option for small kitchens including studio apartments or condos.
  • Accessibility. The straight workflow facilitates an accessible kitchen design without awkward corners. This makes galley kitchens handicap accessible.
  • Budget. With cabinets and counters only on two walls instead of three, galley kitchens can be more affordable to remodel. Appliances also only need to be placed on two walls.
  • Ventilation. The enclosed layout naturally ventilates cooking fumes down the central corridor and outside.

Galley kitchen layouts offer many perks for modest spaces. Next, we’ll explore ways to design them with style.

Designing a Stylish Galley Kitchen

Though galley kitchens are narrow, they don’t have to lack style or visual appeal. Here are some top design tips for creating a chic galley kitchen:

Use Light Colors

Painting the cabinets and walls in light natural colors like white, beige or light grey will instantly make a narrow galley kitchen look larger and brighter.Soft neutral colors also provide a clean, crisp backdrop for adding style with textures and accessories.

Add Textures

Include interesting textures like subway tile, shaker cabinets, butcher block counters, and woven baskets to add warmth and dimension without clutter.

Zone It Out

Designate different zones like food prep and clean-up to make the space feel organized. For example, place the sink on one end and the stove on the other.

Include Multipurpose Furniture

Incorporate space-saving galley kitchen furniture like rolling carts, hutches with built-in benches, and banquette seating with storage underneath.

Go Vertical

Install pull-out shelves, racks and customized storage solutions so you can maximize every inch of vertical space.

Let in Natural Light

Windows, skylights and glass cabinet doors will help brighten up a dark galley kitchen layout. Consider removing top cabinets on one side to open the space even more.

Add Pendant Lights

Draw the eye up by hanging pendant lights over the center work area or above the sink and stove.

Use Mirrors

Strategically place mirrors to visually double the space. Try framing a mirror on the wall or the back of a hutch.

Style with Plants

Bringing in greenery is an easy way to soften the look of a narrow galley kitchen. Use hanging plants, potted herbs on the counter, or a living wall.

Stick With a Color Scheme

Tie the whole kitchen together through color – for example using all white cabinets with black hardware and light wood accents.

With some creativity and smart storage solutions, galley kitchens can look and function beautifully. Next, we’ll look at some specific galley kitchen layout options.

Galley Kitchen Layout Options

Though most galley kitchens have a similar double-sided narrow footprint, there are some variations on the classic layout to consider:

Single Galley Layout

The most common galley kitchen layout has the cabinets, sink and appliances lined up on one wall with the stove and prep area on the opposite wall. This creates a straight workflow.

L-Shaped Galley

An L-shaped galley kitchen layout places cabinets on two adjoining walls, creating an L shape with cabinetry on three sides instead of two. This provides more prep and storage space.

U-Shaped Galley

A U-shaped galley kitchen uses three walls for cabinetry with the sink and appliances on one wall, stove and prep area on another, and a third wall of cabinets, breakfast bar or table.

Split Galley

Also called a broken galley, this layout splits the kitchen into two zones. One wall holds the sink and fridge while the other side across from it houses the stove and additional prep space.

Peninsula Galley

This galley kitchen layout incorporates a peninsula or kitchen island to separate the kitchen from dining or living areas without fully closing it off.

Galley Kitchen with Island

Though not typical, a narrow galley kitchen can accommodate a small kitchen island along one counter to add prep space and storage without eating up floor space.

There are lots of possibilities when laying out a galley kitchen. Incorporating an L-shape, U-shape or peninsula can help maximize efficiency and storage. Now let’s look at some real-life examples!

10 Beautiful Galley Kitchen Design & Remodel Ideas

Need some inspiration for your own galley kitchen design? Here are 10 stunning real galley kitchens showcasing creative solutions for maximizing narrow kitchen layouts:

1. Light and Airy Single Galley Kitchen

This bright single galley kitchen uses crisp white cabinets, light wood accents, and decorative glass cabinet fronts to give the illusion of space. The paneled refrigerator blends seamlessly into the cabinetry.

2. Compact U-Shaped Galley Kitchen

By using three walls instead of two, this U-shaped galley kitchen gains extra storage and prep space without increasing the footprint. The colorful tile backsplash and accessories add personality.

3. Rustic Chic Galley with Brick Wall Accent

Exposed brick walls add striking visual contrast in this rustic-chic kitchen. White shaker cabinets keep the space feeling light. Open shelves provide handy access to everyday dishes.

4. Narrow Kitchen Peninsula Remodel

This renovated galley kitchen features a central peninsula/breakfast bar that defines the kitchen zone without closing it off completely. Pendant lighting and luxurious marble finishes elevate the aesthetic.

5. Vintage Galley Kitchen Makeover

Preserving the vintage charm of the original kitchen, this remodel increased function with a peninsula, new tile floor, and pops of sage green. Open shelving fits the cottage style.

6. Sleek and Modern Single Galley

This contemporary galley kitchen remodel traded dated finishes for a sleek modern aesthetic with glossy cabinets, marble counters, subway tile, and stainless steel appliances. Recessed lighting enhances the modern vibe.

7. Galley Kitchen with Island

Though less common, this galley kitchen squeezes a narrow kitchen island along the counter, providing a small eat-in dining space without sacrificing workflow.

8. L-Shaped Galley Kitchen Remodel

This renovated L-shaped galley kitchen opened up the space by demolishing the wall enclosing it. White shaker cabinets and herringbone floor tile achieve a light and airy farmhouse aesthetic.

9. Open Concept Galley Kitchen/Dining

Knocking down the wall separating the kitchen and dining room transformed this narrow galley into an open concept space. The peninsula allows for casual dining while preserving a linear workflow.

10. Black and White Minimalist Galley

The dramatic black and white color scheme gives this single galley kitchen a clean-lined, minimalist aesthetic. Open shelving, a slim chimney hood and glass cabinet fronts enhance the modern style.

No matter your preferred design style, there are lots of ways to make a narrow galley kitchen both beautiful and highly functional. Utilizing space-saving layouts, smart storage solutions and light, airy colors can take a galley kitchen from cramped to chic.

Designing a Small Galley Kitchen Under 10 Feet

Galley kitchens are prime choices for modest kitchens under 10 feet wide. Here are some great tips for maximizing function and style in an extra narrow galley layout:

  • Stick with 30-36 inch upper cabinets. Don’t overload the space with bulky 42 inch cabinets.
  • Use glass cabinet doors and open shelves to keep the space feeling light.
  • Opt for slim countertop appliances like a low-profile microwave and induction cooktop.
  • Install pull-out pantries, corner lazy susans and other specialized storage solutions.
  • Add mirrors or reflective surfaces to visually enlarge the space.
  • Paint the walls, cabinets and ceiling the same color to make the kitchen appear larger.
  • Include space-saving fixtures like recessed wall ovens and range hoods.
  • Squeeze in a skinny breakfast bar for casual dining if possible.
  • Limit upper cabinets to one wall to open up the look.
  • Use pendant or recessed lighting rather than overhead fixtures which can overwhelm the space.
  • Stick with light neutral colors like white, light grey and beige.

With some creativity, galley kitchens under 10 feet wide can still look and function beautifully. The long narrow footprint allows you to get the most from a very compact kitchen.

Galley Kitchen Storage Solutions

Since galley kitchens tend to be low on square footage, smart storage is essential to maximize function. Here are great galley kitchen storage ideas:

Pull-Out Pantries & Drawers

Install pull-out pantry units, spice racks, utility drawers and full extension roll-out shelves for easy access to kitchen items.

Lazy Susans

Lazy susans maximize corner cabinet space in galley kitchens. Great for storing spices, cans and other small items.

Under Cabinet Organizers

Metal racks, baskets and other organizers allow you to utilize all the vertical space under both wall cabinets and counters.

Kitchen Carts & Islands

Even narrow galley kitchens can usually fit a skinny cart or island with storage baskets for extra storage and prep space.

Vertical Wall Storage

Wall-mounted pot racks, shelving units and floating spice racks keep items off the counters while utilizing vertical real estate.

Multi-Tier Wall Cabinets

Stack two rows of wall cabinets with staggered depths to double storage. Great for dishes and glassware.

Narrow Appliances

Select low-profile, narrow fridges, stoves, microwaves and dishwashers to save precious inches.

Banquette Seating

Use space efficiently by installing banquette seating with storage drawers built right into the base.

Creative storage solutions like pull-out drawers, customized organizers and extra cabinets make the most of every inch in a galley kitchen layout.

Galley Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Remodeling a tired or outdated galley kitchen is a smart way to boost functionality and the overall aesthetic. Here are some great galley kitchen remodel ideas:

Upgrade Kitchen Cabinets

Replacing old cabinets with new shaker, recessed panel or flat-front cabinets can totally transform the look of your kitchen. For a budget option, reface existing cabinets.

Install New Countertops

Swap out worn laminate counters for fresh quartz, granite, or solid surface countertops to update the aesthetic. Butcher block also looks great in galley kitchens.

Replace Kitchen Sink and Faucet

Installing a sleek undermount sink and modern faucet completely updates the kitchen’s look for less. Select a dual-function faucet to maximize functionality.

Change Out Tile Backsplash

Tile backsplashes protect the walls and tie the whole aesthetic together. Upgrade to on-trend subway tile, marble mosaic or hexagon tile.

Update Kitchen Lighting

Swap outdated fluorescent lighting with new recessed cans, pendant lights, and task lighting. Under cabinet lights illuminate the counters.

Replace Kitchen Flooring

Stained or outdated flooring can really drag down a kitchen’s aesthetic. Replace with new vinyl, tile, hardwood or laminate floors.

Add Glass Cabinet Doors

Swapping solid cabinet fronts with new glass doors instantly opens up dark galley kitchens. Great for displaying dishware.

Install High-End Appliances

Though pricy, replacing major appliances like the fridge, stove and dishwasher with stainless steel models lifts the whole kitchen’s aesthetic.

Open Up the Space

Consider knocking down walls to open the galley to adjacent dining areas for a more modern, airy layout if possible.

Even modest galley kitchen remodels can make a big impact. Focus on the elements that date a kitchen the most like cabinets, counters and backsplashes.

Small Galley Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Remodeling an extra narrow galley kitchen under 10 feet wide comes with challenges. Here are great small galley kitchen remodel ideas:

Limit Upper Cabinets

Skip bulky upper cabinets and opt for open shelves or glass-front cabinets. This opens up the space visually.

Install Sliding Doors

Use space-saving sliding doors on corner and base cabinets to maximize access.

Choose Light Flooring

Install light hardwood, vinyl or tile flooring to reflect light and make the kitchen appear larger. Dark floors can overwhelm a small space.

Use Patterned Tile Backsplash

A bold tile pattern distracts from the tight quarters and adds visual interest. Opt for a white background.

Add a Mirror Backsplash

Mirror backsplashes practically double the space, making even the narrowest kitchen appear larger.

Include a Skylight

Skylights let natural light pour into dark galley kitchens. This can make the space feel more expansive.

Add Pendant Lighting

Draw the eyes up with hanging pendant lights. Position over the sink, stove or central work zone.

Install Sliding Shelves

Maximize tricky corner cabinet spaces with sliding shelves and trays that pull all the way out.

With some creativity and smart design choices, even the smallest galley kitchen can be highly functional and beautiful. Focus on lighting and storage solutions to maximize the compact layout.

Galley Kitchen Remodel Costs

What’s the cost to remodel a galley kitchen? Since galley kitchens typically have less cabinetry, countertops and floor space, they can often be renovated for less than larger L-shaped or U-shaped kitchens.

Here are the average costs to remodel a galley kitchen:

  • Minor remodel – $5,000-$15,000
  • Major remodel – $15,000-$35,000
  • Luxury remodel – $40,000+

Factors impacting galley kitchen remodel costs include:

  • Layout changes like removing walls
  • New cabinetry or cabinet refacing
  • New countertops
  • Backsplash materials like tile or quartz
  • Type of sink and faucet
  • Kitchen island inclusion
  • Flooring upgrades like tile or hardwood
  • Appliance upgrades
  • HVAC, plumbing and electric updates

While a full gut remodel will fall on the pricier end, more modest galley kitchen remodels can be completed for $15,000 or less. Focus on big visual changes like cabinetry, counters, backsplash and flooring to get the most impact for your remodel budget.

Designing an Accessible Galley Kitchen

With their straight workflow and lack of awkward corners, galley kitchen layouts naturally lend themselves well to accessible kitchen designs. Here are tips for designing an ADA compliant, wheelchair accessible galley kitchen:

  • Include a 60 x 60 inch wheelchair turning radius
  • Allow for at least 40 inches of clearance between counters
  • Install cabinets with adjustable heights and pull-out shelves
  • Include kneewalls under the sink and cooktop
  • Place everyday dishes and cookware within easy rolling reach
  • Install an ADA compliant sink with lever handles
  • Choose an induction cooktop that doesn’t get hot to the touch
  • Opt for easy-open cabinet and drawer hardware like pulls
  • Incorporate open shelving for easy access to frequently used items
  • Make sure all cabinets and drawers are easy to grasp and pull open from a seated position
  • Install an ADA compliant refrigerator with freezer drawer on the bottom
  • Include ample task lighting throughout

With good planning, even a modest galley kitchen can be made fully wheelchair accessible. Focus on adaptable cabinets and sufficient clearances.

Achieving a Modern Galley Kitchen Design

Galley kitchens easily lend themselves to a contemporary, modern aesthetic. Here’s how to design a modern galley kitchen:


Select minimalist flat-front cabinetry in a glossy lacquer. Opt for handle-free cabinets with touch latches. Include some open shelving.


Quartz, marble, concrete and laminate countertops all complement modern kitchens. Keep countertops streamlined with minimal seams.


Stick with a sleek and simple backsplash like glass, stainless steel or a single large-scale tile.


Polished concrete, vinyl plank and porcelain tile floors work well for modern galley kitchens.


LED recessed can lighting paired with central linear pendant fixtures create a contemporary look. Add undercabinet lighting.


Opt for minimalist hardware like cut-out pulls or handleless cabinets. Use black, matte grey