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Three Layout Styles to Maximise Space in a Small Kitchen

No matter the size of your kitchen, a well-designed layout can make a small kitchen spacious

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By House & Garden | November 13, 2023 | Kitchen

Making the most of space in a kitchen is a problem most city inhabitants have to deal with - we've gathered three design ideas to steal if you're puzzled about where to put everything

Although the kitchen has supposedly become the heart of the home, growing in size and prominence and incorporating sitting and dining rooms in its footprint, many of us urban dwellers face the opposite situation, squeezing kitchens into ever smaller spaces. It's very common now to find that a kitchen occupies one sad-looking wall of a sitting room, or to have to navigate tiny galley kitchens. But if you want to add a bit of character to a kitchen when it's in the middle of your living space, and maximise storage and character, there are a few clever design solutions that can help. We've picked a few of our favourites.

The open plan U-shape

Most people who live in flats now are faced with incorporating kitchens and dining areas into living rooms. The trick Beata Heuman and her senior designer Fosca Mariani used in this small London flat was to differentiate between the cooking and sitting areas – previously all found in the one space – by installing a U-shaped kitchen. This immediately created an additional surface on which to serve food or use as a bar. ‘It also provided a wall against which to place a banquette, which was something the owners really wanted,’ says Beata.

The U-shaped kitchen opening into an open-plan dining and living area. Image via Unsplash.

The open galley

A galley kitchen is a familiar enough layout, but this idea from Zoe Zimmer's small but ingeniously designed flat in Notting Hill adds a little more panache in an open-plan area. First of all, the galley functions as a passageway from one end of the flat to the other, avoiding closing off any spaces with doors. Although it is largely separated from the sitting and dining area by a wall, the large open space allows one countertop to serve as a bar, so that Zoe can be in the middle of the action when entertaining. The final clever touch is the mirror at the back of the kitchen, which reflects the sitting room, and also bounces light around infinitely with mirrors at the back of that room.

The galley is open at both ends, forming a passageway from the entrance to the bathroom. Image via Unsplash.

The one-wall wonder

In a completely open plan loft in Shoreditch, the architect Rients Bruinsma has created an extremely clever design for the classic one-wall kitchen. First of all, it is built onto the outside wall of the bathroom, which is situated in a marble box in the middle of the flat. The smart walnut cabinets conceal a washing machine and dishwasher, and also offer a little bit of open shelving and plenty of storage high up in the top cabinets. It may look compact, but it has everything Rients needs to cook ‘huge meals’ and entertain guests.

The walnut kitchen was built onto the outside of the marble bathroom. Image via Unsplash.

This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK