How To Make The Most Of Your Galley Kitchen

by | Apr 12, 2019 | Signature Kitchen & Bath Blog | 0 comments

Here’s an interesting article by Elizabeth Stamp for Architectural Digest on galley kitchen advice.

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Few people will step into a potential apartment or house and think, Oh yay! A galley kitchen! But the pint-size spaces, distinguished by their narrow layout with parallel counters, are a fact of life for plenty of urban dwellers. “It’s so often that we get projects that people ask us to open up the galley kitchen,” says designer Sarah Zames, founder of the Brooklyn-based firm General Assembly. “But there are cases where you can’t do that, such as in prewar buildings where lots of times you can’t move pipes the way that you would want to.” There are also instances where you might not want your kitchen to feel like a part of your living room. “It’s coming back into style to consolidate your kitchen and not necessarily have it open,” says Zames. “I’m getting more people asking me to do that. It’s not always a given that you want everything open.” If you’re sticking with your hallway-like space, either by choice or out of necessity, there are plenty of galley kitchen ideas to make the most of your meager square footage and create a less claustrophobic feel. Zames shared her tips on how to enhance your galley kitchen, whether you’re doing a full renovation or just trying to clear a little counter space.

Open It Up (But Just a Little Bit)

You don’t need to demo an entire wall to open up a galley kitchen. “The first thing that I would do is see if there’s anyway [to] create some sort of opening to the other spaces from it,” says Zames. “You could open up just the corner of it and add some open shelving to break that hallway feeling.” She recalls a project where even a small opening made a big difference. “We weren’t able to open it up to the living room, because there were some pipes in the way, but we opened it up partially and put shelves that hung from the ceiling,” she says. “I thought that was a nice happy medium. It kept the kitchen out of the dining area, and you kept the functional storage, but it was still visually connected to the other space.”

Ditch the Upper Cabinets

“The goal when designing a galley kitchen is to make it feel the least cavernous as possible,” Zames says. “Reduce the number of tall cabinets that you’re going to use, or consolidate your tall storage into one place. She recommends putting the refrigerator and pantry in one area and keeping storage focused in that space, then doing open shelving or limited upper cabinetry.

Incorporate Light and Dark

“Another way to reduce that feeling that you’re in a hallway is to break up the materials,” she says. “Keep the base cabinets in a heavier, darker material and then do the upper cabinets in a lighter colors to connect it more towards the ceiling.”

Go Glossy

Zames recommends using glossy tile or surfaces to brighten the space. “With materials, you can use things that are a little more reflective,” she says. “Getting as much natural light bouncing around in there as possible is pretty key.”

Work in Wood

Another option is to bring in wood to make the kitchen feel more connected to the rest of the apartment. “In that case, I would do wood-base cabinets that would feel a little more grounded and more like furniture than cabinets,” Zames says. “For upper shelving, I would do something neutral and light and cool-toned.”

Light It Up

Zames notes that there’s lots that can be done in addition to task lighting in a galley kitchen. “You’re not working with pendant lights over an island, but you can do some great decorative fixtures on the ceiling that bring the space together,” she says. “There’s an opportunity with a galley kitchen to be a jewel box, so doing some lighting on the ceiling that feels less utilitarian is nice.”

Keep Things Off the Counter

“It’s all about maximizing the space,” says Zames. “Do as many built-in items as you can and maximize the counter space—so do a microwave drawer, rather than a microwave on the counter, and have tall storage so you can put away things you don’t use on a daily basis or are bulky.”

Downsize and Customize Appliances

Zames emphasizes the importance of keeping materials consistent and introducing as few lines, or breaks in materials, as possible. “I would always do a cooktop with a wall oven below it—something that’s built into the cabinets, rather than a slide-in range,” she says. “I would do as many panel-ready appliances as possible, keeping it feeling as much like furniture as you can.” The designer also suggests choosing smaller appliances. “Going down to even a 24-inch fridge—which a lot of people gasp at—is very livable and will save you a lot of space,” says Zames. ”You may want to consider doing something that has French doors so that you don’t have to leave a lot of space for a big fridge door.”