Modern kitchen layouts are referenced by the shape they make when viewed on a floor plan. The most popular kitchen configurations are the L, U and G-shapes. We will take a look at those in a future post. Two other types of kitchen layout, less frequently requested but worthy of mention because of their extraordinary efficiency, are the galley kitchen and the single wall (a.k.a “efficiency”) kitchenette.
The single wall kitchenette has always been a popular space saver in efficiency or studio apartments. It may even be be installed in a closet–so hidden from view by folding doors when not in use. Today there are companies that manufacture complete kitchenette modules in varying sizes. They work well in applications where space is limited, say for a nanny suite or efficiency rental unit in a private residence. They fit the bill when super efficiency is the driving principle.
The galley layout makes for an extremely efficient chef’s kitchen. It’s gotten a bad name because it is usually found in older homes or row houses that squeeze the kitchen into a space that is too small. Also, that kitchen space is usually doing double duty as the main corridor to the back door and portal to the basement stairs. People almost always want to take out a wall to open them up to an adjacent room or move the kitchen out into an addition. When a galley is properly sized, however, it makes a superbly functional and surprisingly open layout.
Here is a great example of how a fresh approach to the galley layout can do everything we expect an open plan kitchen to do. This modern galley kitchen was created by removing interior partition walls in the center of a Tenleytown residence. It is open the dining room on one end and the living room on the other. The removal of a central partition wall allowed for a seating bar (facing the chef) to be included in the plan. This is not the picture that typically comes to mind when we think “galley.”
Here’s another example. We we created this one in a Kalorama town home. We’ll call this a modified galley because it actually turns the corner at one end of the room. Nevertheless, the primary task areas are set across the aisle from each other. Incidently, the original kitchen this galley replaced had a U-shaped layout. In this case, it wasn’t the U layout that was the problem. The big issues were that it was a window-less dead end room. One way in and one way out–completely disconnected from any other room. To be fair we should point out that there was a clear purpose to the original design and it was entirely appropriate to the design trends at the time the home was built. It’s just that times and tastes change.
To meet the needs of the minimalist kitchen, the galley layout is worth considering. Again, it’s poor reputation is tied to the 40′s and 50′s housing stock so prevalent in older Washington DC and Bethesda Maryland neighborhoods. Many of these homes are models of efficiency. Often they were built to be as small (and affordable) as possible and still shelter a family of four. The original kitchen design in many of these house? The galley. Why? Because it makes such efficient use of space. So, giving that tried & true layout some breathing room brings us to the modern galley kitchen.