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A Guide to Kitchen Layouts

Most people would agree that the kitchen is the heart of a home. It’s a place to gather, to share stories, to congregate at the end of the day and to meet at the beginning of new ones. Creating an inviting kitchen can be one of the most crucial parts of home planning, and it all starts with your kitchen layout. Your plan for countertops, appliances and cabinetry must fit within this layout and is determined by the following:

  • The size of your space

  • Shape of your space

  • Types of appliances you would like to add

  • Functionality - what do you use your kitchen for most? Cooking, baking, entertaining, family meals, etc.

  • Budget

Common Kitchen Layouts

Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes and not one layout is perfect for every home. Below are the most common kitchen layouts.

One Wall / Pullman

This is a simple and efficient design for small spaces with everything on one wall.


Also known as a walk-through kitchen this design consists of two walls, parallel countertops and a walkway. This design utilizes the work triangle concept and eliminates the corner cabinet dilemma.

L Shaped

An L-shaped design contains 2 perpendicular walls and an open space in the middle. This design cuts down on foot traffic in the kitchen and an island can easily be added for more work and storage space.

U Shaped

Also known as a horseshoe shape, a u-shaped kitchen contains 3 walls of cabinets, appliances and countertops. This design surrounds the cook on all 3 sides and depending on the size of the space, an island can be added for additional workspace.

Variation: G-shaped - an added countertop onto the Ushape


As mentioned above, an island can be added to just about any design as long as there is space available. An island adds extra surface for working and for storage and it isn’t limited to square and rectangle shapes. Some of our favorite islands we have created for clients are odd-shaped designs created specifically for a particular space.

Variation: Peninsula - an attached island

Is the Work Triangle Really Dead?

First of all, what actually is the work triangle? It’s a concept that most kitchens in the last several decades have adapted. It connects all the main sections of your kitchen together and typically includes the fridge, range and sink to create a working flow.

Although this is a great idea in theory, we would argue that the triangle should be used more as a guide and not necessarily a hard and fast rule. Whereas decades ago a kitchen primarily was used by one person preparing a meal in a box shaped room, it’s now a place for cooking by multiple people, eating and living that often expands into the living area of a home.

New Concepts

Work zones are a fairly new concept that are redefining the work triangle. These zones are small spaces throughout a kitchen used for certain tasks like meal preparation, coffee/tea, food storage, cleaning/waste, etc. that make a kitchen efficient and functional. Another point of interest that has changed drastically in the last decade are all the new appliances that have come on the market. Items like warming drawers, microwave drawers, double ovens, etc. have changed the layout of the traditional kitchen completely.

The Sullivan’s Approach

At Sullivan’s we believe in a hybrid approach to kitchen design that allows you to have both form and function when choosing your layout. We take the time to sit down with our clients to determine the best plan for your particular space. Our ultimate goal is this: Maximize your space, Make it functional for you & Create the aesthetic environment you desire.

See our Kitchen Galleries for inspiration.


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