You're getting ready to remodel your kitchen. Will you choose a galley or U-shaped kitchen? Either can be a good choice. While galleys are a great fit for some families, others will do better with a U-shaped kitchen.

To decide which is right for you, consult the following kitchen layout guide.

Comparing the Layouts of Galley and U-shaped Kitchens

When you're comparing galley vs U-shaped kitchen options, you might notice that they don't seem all that different from one another.

A galley kitchen features two rows of cabinets and counters that sit parallel to one another. The other two ends of the room might serve as entrances to other parts of the house.

You can find inspiration for a galley kitchen renovation in the following video:

A U-shaped kitchen could be thought of like a galley kitchen that's been closed up on one side. This arrangement involves two parallel rows of cabinets with a third that connects the two.

You can see examples of U-shaped kitchens in this video:

Although these two styles might look rather similar on paper, there are some major differences in how they function. Understanding those differences will help you decide between a galley or U-shaped kitchen design.

Evaluating Layouts Based on Your Kitchen Goals

Do you know what you're looking for in a kitchen? If so, it will be easier to decide which layout will work best for you.

Open-concept Home

If your ideal home conveys the sense that one room flows into the next, a U-shaped kitchen might be the design for you. The open side of the U can lead directly into a living or dining space, especially if the U is fairly wide.

On the other hand, the narrow passage that is integral to most galley kitchens can cause that style of room to feel rather closed-off. However, you could use a line of lower cabinets with a countertop as one of your parallel rows instead of building two full-height walls. The space above could remain open to give you a line of sight into other areas of your home.


Perhaps you prefer cooking in a quiet kitchen, and you don't want a workspace that's open to guests when you're entertaining. In that case, a galley kitchen might provide the privacy that you're looking for. You could even add doors to separate the galley from other parts of your home.

Wide U's can be harder to close off from other rooms. However, if the U is more narrow, you might be able to create a greater demarcation between the cooking area and the rest of the house.


Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes. Galley kitchens are renowned for their ability to form a functional cooking space in a small area. Because they're usually narrow, however, there's not typically room to include an island.

U-shaped kitchens can work in both large and small spaces. However, they're best for kitchens that measure at least 10 feet across. An island can be a valuable addition to a large U-shaped kitchen because it reduces the distance from one work station to the next.


Because a galley kitchen is typically open on both ends, you might find that it invites people to walk back and forth through the kitchen on a regular basis. This can be inconvenient when you're cooking.

Traffic through the kitchen might be reduced with a U-shaped design. Since the room is closed in on three sides, it's less likely that people will pass through on their way to somewhere else.


If you want to plan your kitchen around the traditional concept of a stove-refrigerator-sink work triangle, a galley kitchen is great for that. By putting two of the fixtures on one side and the other in between them on the opposite side, you create an efficient triangle. This space is often just the right size for one person to work.

Some modern homes rely on the idea of work zones instead. Because a U-shaped design typically gives you more space with which to work, it can be a better choice for the zone concept. The flexibility of a U-shaped kitchen also allows you the option to plan its layout around a standard work triangle. You could even set up two triangles for multiple cooks.


Typically, because a U-shaped kitchen involves an additional row of cabinets, you get more storage space in this design than in a galley kitchen.

However, while a U-shaped kitchen usually has two sets of corner cabinets, a galley kitchen often avoids this challenging setup. Therefore, you might find that a galley layout could give you almost as much workable space. If you decide to go with a U-shaped kitchen, it's a good idea to install cabinets that maximize corner functionality.

Deciding Which Layout Is Best for You

At this point, you might have a clear idea of which layout is the right one for your house. If not, the following tips can help you decide.

Consider a galley kitchen if you:

  • Have a small space available for your kitchen.
  • Like the idea of a quiet kitchen where one person can work.
  • Want to avoid corner cabinets.
  • Appreciate the efficiency that a compact work triangle provides.

Go for a U-shaped kitchen if you: 

  • Want your kitchen to be open to another room.
  • Need workspace for multiple cooks.
  • Have room for a larger kitchen or an island.
  • Prefer a lot of storage space.
  • Don't want people walking through the kitchen while you work.
Whether you decide on a galley or U-shaped kitchen, at NDA Kitchens, we want you to love your completed renovation. That's why our professional designers work with you to plan every aspect of your remodel. Schedule a free design consultation to learn more about our 3 Week Kitchen Renovation.