Galley kitchen ideas: how to design a narrow kitchen

Galley kitchens can be a challenge but with a little careful planning and the right layout and design, you can have a stylish, practical workspace in no time

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Long and narrow, galley kitchens are often dismissed as tricky to work in and even more difficult to plan. Yet by choosing the right appliances and using some clever interior design tricks, you can easily make the space more accessible, as well as lighter and brighter, too.

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Read on to discover the best way to lay out a narrow kitchen, plus our favourite galley kitchen ideas!

What are the advantages of a galley kitchen?

Although galley kitchens are often small, they do have many advantages. The main upside of having a galley kitchen is that because base cabinets run along either one wall or two in parallel – think ship’s galleys – there is less space to walk around, and therefore everything will remain within easy reach.

Stevia matt pewter grey slab, GoodHome at B&Q
Stevia matt pewter grey slab, GoodHome at B&Q

Galley kitchens are also particularly handy for those who lead a busy lifestyle because they take minimal time to clean and organise, without awkward corners or islands to collect clutter.

Best galley kitchen ideas

Install a curved breakfast bar

Milbourne kitchen is similar, from £10,000, Second Nature
Milbourne kitchen is similar, from £10,000, Second Nature

Try to slot in a curved breakfast bar when there’s no space for a kitchen table. Simply pop a couple of bar stools underneath for an instant dining space that adds extra shape and character to a linear space.

Choose clever kitchen storage

Cambridge kitchen in Midnight Blue, from £1,700 for eight units, Benchmarx
Cambridge kitchen in Midnight Blue, from £1,700 for eight units, Benchmarx

Incorporate clever storage solutions beneath bench seating and surrounding areas, making sure to keep an open feeling by limiting the number of wall units within the space. Wall-hung storage saves on valuable floor space.

Hang feature blinds

Roller blind in Guatemala Olive, from £57.74, MissPrint
Roller blind in Guatemala Olive, from £57.74, MissPrint

Draw the eye to a window at one end of the room with a vibrant blind, as this will help to elongate the space. It can also add a splash of colour or an on-trend pattern or print, which will be quick and easy to swap when you fancy a change.

Choose task lighting

Black and white kitchen ideas
Conical Prismatic Rise & Fall Pendant, £269, Original BTC

Angled, adjustable or task lights lights work well over worktops and preparation space.

Create a feature wall

Active Orange and Spiced Honey matt emulsion, £29.16 for 2.5L, Dulux
Active Orange and Spiced Honey matt emulsion, £29.16 for 2.5L, Dulux

Inject some colour and personality into a dark, narrow kitchen with a feature wall. Add a couple of floating shelves and display your favourite cookbooks, ceramics or potted plants.

Choose handleless cabinets

Arcos Supermat kitchen in Sirra, from £10,000, Schmidt
Arcos Supermat kitchen in Sirra, from £10,000, Schmidt

Handleless cabinets are great for galley kitchens, as they offer a seamless finish that helps enhance a sense of increased space.

Sleek slab doors without handles will give the kitchen a fuss-free look that is also easier to keep clean.

Add bar stools

‘I love the breakfast bar,’ Ruth says. ‘We weren’t going to have one but changed our minds at the last minute, and I’m so glad we did as we use it all the time. The bar stools were an incredibly cheap eBay purchase’
Ruth has created a compact breakfast bar in the corner of her small kitchen with some eBay bar stools

Pop a couple of bar stools under a worktop overhang for an instant breakfast bar. Choose comfy weathered oak for a rustic farmhouse feel.

Opt for light cabinets

Porcelain Soft Matt slab door with UrbanTop Bronze Burnt worktop, from £5,000, Trend Interiors
Porcelain Soft Matt slab door with UrbanTop Bronze Burnt worktop, from £5,000, Trend Interiors

Choose light-coloured cabinets to enhance a feeling of space then add depth by using a darker finish for worktops, splashbacks and side panels.

Create a seating nook

Kate’s picture-perfect kitchen has open shelving and a handy larder for storage. The open shelving gives plenty of opportunity to show off her collection of kitchenware, from mugs and plates to potted houseplants
Kate has created a little seating nook at the end of her compact kitchen

Building a small seating nook into surrounding units can really maximise the area and positioning a small table in front can create a versatile and functional feature.

Choose slimline appliances

Wi157 wine cabinet, £330, Caple
Wi157 wine cabinet, £330, Caple

Slimline appliances will make the most of every inch. A single zone undercounter wine cabinet like this one is only 145mm wide but has room for eight bottles as well as LED lighting, wooden racks, LED display and reversible door.

Add quirky accessories

Good idea! For a glamorous kitchen, choose sleek handleless cabinetry with dramatic contrast trims – they come in a range of metallic finishes
Good idea! For a glamorous kitchen, choose sleek handleless cabinetry with dramatic contrast trims – they come in a range of metallic finishes

Just because you’re working with a small space doesn’t mean it should be boring. Bring your personality into the kitchen with quirky tea towels and prints. Use retro-style tins and pots to store cutlery and utensils.

Try built in appliances

SFP6926 Victoria oven, from £879, Smeg
SFP6926 Victoria oven, from £879, Smeg

Built-in appliances are the ideal solution for galley kitchens, as they create a sleek and streamlined environment while freeing up plenty of space to enjoy family meals and entertaining. Installing ovens at eye level is not only kinder on the back but also prevents anyone from walking into the oven door when open.

Opt for a space saving radiator

Hot Spring radiator in chrome, from £708, Bisque
Hot Spring radiator in chrome, from £708, Bisque

Vertical radiators save valuable wall space while an unusual design adds interest and helps add personality to the room.

Choose pale flooring

Beija Flor Authentic Sofi Vinyl Floor Mat, Cuckooland
Beija Flor Authentic Sofi Vinyl Floor Mat, Cuckooland

Pale toned flooring will give the room an open feel and draw in the natural sunlight from outside – you’d be surprised what a difference flooring laying patterns make.

Open shelving

Open plan kitchen with open shelving and artwork
Open plan kitchen with open shelving and artwork

Use open shelves instead of wall units, which can make a galley kitchen feel cramped and closed-in. Raw oak shelves have an industrial feel and could be used for spices, jars and cherished ceramics. For a more modern feel, opt for high gloss white or metallic shelves.

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For more inspiration, check out our favourite kitchen ideas and real home makeovers