How to Plan Your Kitchen Counter Layout

How to Plan Your Kitchen Counter Layout

Because the kitchen is a room where so many different kinds of activities take place, it’s essential to consider counter layout carefully before  building or remodeling.

The counter layout should provide room for cooking and food prep, storage for all your practical needs, and comfortable access to the three major focal points of your kitchen: the stove, refrigerator and sink. These three stations collectively make-up the “work triangle,” the area in the kitchen that you will move between most often. In addition, there are several layout designs popular among homeowners for their functionality.

Here are a few common kitchen counter layout options to consider before remodeling:

1. Galley

galley_kitchen_layout.pngGalley kitchens maximize available space to enhance functionality, which is why they are generally found in small or cramped spaces. It is a straight and narrow layout, with easy movement between two long counter areas. Generally, the wall side of the kitchen contains a counter with appliances, and the other counter provides open space for food prep, warming and plating.

This is a great layout for meal preparation, since it’s easy to alternative between the two parallel countertops. It also provides ample light and good airflow circulation, which is why this is the preferred layout for restaurants.

That said, this layout limits interaction with guests because of its narrow design and lack of dining space or counter island.


l_shaped_kitchen_layout.png2. L-Shaped

The L-Shaped countertop layout is becoming more and more popular with the increasingly common great room and loft-style living. It consists of countertops lining two adjacent, perpendicular walls in an “L” shape. Because this type of kitchen opens into other rooms of the house and keeps the work triangle unobstructed, it serves as a convenient way to flow from the dining or living room into the kitchen.

l_shaped_kitchen_layout_island.pngThis layout is ideal for entertaining, sharing the kitchen with multiple cooks, and engaging with guests in other parts of the home without leaving the cooking area. However, you will need to add a table and chairs or a counter island to provide comfortable seating.

Similar to the L-Shaped layout, the Double L-Shaped counter layout features two sets of adjacent, perpendicular countertops, each defining a zone. One acts as the primary counter space with appliances and work triangle, while the other is usually reserved for seating, dining and socializing with guests.


3. U-Shaped

u_shaped_kitchen_layout.jpgTo maximize counter space in smaller, single cook spaces, a U-Shaped layout is a classic solution. It acts like a wide galley kitchen with one closed end, keeping visitors outside the work stations while remaining open to other parts of the home. This layout virtually surrounds the cook with appliances and counter space, but it can be too narrow to include a table and chairs.

Usually, a counter island is a good solution for seating in a U-Shaped layout, but make sure your space is large enough to accommodate one. Industry guidelines recommend at least 3½ feet between the island and surrounding cabinets and appliances so that doors can open properly and people can maneuver safely.


g_shaped_kitchen_layout.jpg4. G-Shaped

And finally, we arrive at the G-Shaped counter layout, a modified version of the U-Shaped layout. Here, you have all the benefits of the “U” but with an added countertop “peninsula” (no upper cabinets) that adjoins the kitchen with the dining room, or another area of the home. This layout is best for U-Shaded layouts in spaces that are too small to accommodate a full counter island.


If you have an idea for an alternate layout, or questions about which layout would best suite your space, talk to the experts at GNH. And stop in to see our beautiful Latham showroom today for kitchen layout ideas and inspiration!


Sources:, 6 Popular Countertop Layouts from Moraware, Merillat Kitchen Layouts, Kitchen Design 101 from Omega Cabinetry


If you’re beginning a kitchen remodeling project, the design experts at GNH Lumber are ready to field your questions! And check out our FREE Kitchen Planning guide!

Topics: Kitchens

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