What Is a Galley Kitchen?

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Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, but they primarily fall into one of five different layouts: L-shaped, U-shaped, G-shaped, one-wall, and galley. Of the five, galley kitchens are the perhaps the most efficient, both in terms of actually cooking and maximizing space. “Galley kitchens are longer, narrow spaces that provide upper and lower cabinets in a walkway-type layout,” says Abbe Fenimore, founder and principal designer of Dallas-based firm Studio Ten 25. Essentially, all of the “stuff” that makes up a kitchen—appliances, storage space, and countertops—run along two parallel units, forming something of a corridor.

What Does “Galley” Even Mean?

The term “galley” actually refers to kitchens on ships, planes, and trains, where the elongated spaces necessitate hallway-like floor plans. But galleys have transferred to terra firma and are found in many homes, particularly smaller ones.

What Kinds of Spaces Are Best Served by Galley Kitchens?

“Galley kitchens are always a great option for smaller homes for obvious, space-saving reasons,” says Fenimore. You’ll find that they’re common in apartments, which inherently have smaller footprints, and also in older homes, where kitchens are tucked away and not used as a social space.

“But it can be fun to see a galley-style kitchen in a larger home, too,” she adds. “They can create a sleek and organized feel to an open concept space.” If you’re incorporating a galley kitchen into an open floor plan, forget about the corridor concept—use an island to create one of the parallel units that define a galley kitchen. Just because you need two parallel sides doesn’t mean they need to be identical!

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