Galley Kitchen Ideas to Make the Most of What You Have

The galley kitchen has gotten a bad rap over the years because many are small in size and can feel dark and claustrophobic. However, galley kitchens have so much to offer because of their ergonomic layout and their ability to fit into many home spaces. There are creative ways to make the most of the sensible shape of the galley kitchen.

galley kitchen
Herron Horton Architects, Inc

What is a galley kitchen?

The galley kitchen was so-called because of its similarity to a kitchen on a ship sometimes called a galley. It is shaped like a long hallway with upper cabinets and lower cabinets on either side of the corridor.

What is a galley kitchen?

There are parallel counters on either side with appliances interspersed throughout. Some galley kitchens have a dining area incorporated into the layout either at the end of the cabinets or as an extension of the counter space in the form of a small island.

Pros and cons of a galley kitchen

While many people dislike the layout of the galley kitchen, there are some elements that make this a good kitchen design. There are other aspects that are more difficult about this kitchen shape. In the end, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the negatives for your situation.


  • The small space makes the galley kitchen remodel or original building a less expensive proposition than a larger-sized kitchen.
  • The galley kitchen has a shape that makes food prep easier on the body because of the proximity of all the countertops and appliances to one another.
  • Everything is more accessible in a galley kitchen than it would be in a larger space.
  • Galley kitchens are easier and quicker to clean than kitchens that are larger.


  • Galley kitchens are more a narrow kitchen layout. This makes it difficult for multiple people to be in the kitchen at the same time.
  • This type of kitchen layout can seem to lack a focal point and visual interest as all the cabinets and countertops blend together in a long line.
  • The resale value of homes with galley kitchens tend to be less than kitchen layouts that are larger.
  • Some small galley kitchens lack enough storage and counter space.
  • Standard sized appliances are best used in galley kitchens as there is less space for larger and custom appliances.
Pros and cons of a galley kitchen
Smartstyle Interiors

Galley Kitchen Ideas and Inspiration

We have rounded up some of the best and most beautiful galley kitchen designs for you to consider. After looking at them, you will understand that the galley kitchen layout works well in many contexts and designs.

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun
Jackson and LeRoy

This galley kitchen from Jackson and LeRoy is one of the loveliest that we have seen. It features painted kitchen cabinets and a wall of windows along one side with wall cabinets along the other. Even though this is a narrow space, the natural light makes the room seem more open. Further, the tall wall cabinet mixed with the open shelving breaks the hallway feeling of the room.

Keeping it light

Cream backsplash and white cabinets in a galley kitchen.

A galley kitchen with light colors will look larger than a kitchen with dark colors. Even without windows to brighten the space, this white kitchen looks open and pleasant. Notice also the backsplash in a darker neutral tone. This gives the galley-style kitchen some needed texture and greater depth. The dark wood flooring counterbalances and grounds the design to create a pleasing overall design.

Galley kitchen with peninsula

Ideas for a galley kitchen to add a pop of color.

This galley kitchen uses vivid color to distract from the small space of the layout. The bright blue subway tile offers a pleasing contrast to the gray cabinetry and stainless steel refrigerator and oven. Further, this kitchen layout makes the most of its space because of the breakfast bar on the peninsula. The peninsula works better than a galley kitchen with an island as space is limited.

Patterned backsplash

Adding a pattern to a galley kitchen wall.

This galley kitchen features a patterned backsplash with white cabinetry. The glass fronts on the top cabinets allow the shelves to add extra visual interest in the room. The patterned tile backsplash creates a focal point that is interesting but not overwhelming to the design. The darker base cabinets insert some wood texture into the kitchen design to anchor it and provide more visual interest.

A bright floor

Paint a floor in a galley kitchen.

The sleek galley kitchen design has blue flooring that is as interesting as it is unexpected. White walls and natural wood cabinets keep the kitchen light and airy. The blue floor serves to ground the light colors of the kitchen space.

Traditional galley kitchens

Traditional galley kitchens
Heidi Caillier Design

This galley kitchen design from Heidi Caillier works well for a transitional or a farmhouse galley kitchen style. The interior design creates contrast by using two colors on the cabinets, a soft gray-green and ivory, and finishing them with warm wood countertops. The galley kitchen lighting is spare. Rather than use large overhead lights, the designer has added task lighting where it is needed.

Open shelving

Open shelving in small kitchens.

By all accounts, this is a tiny galley kitchen. However, the kitchen uses every ounce of available space to make the most of the narrow layout. The open shelves and the checked flooring on the narrow walkway allow the small galley kitchen to create an outsized impression. Open shelving creates an open look in even small spaces.

A wall of cabinets

A wall of cabinets
Lori Caldwell Design

This galley kitchen from Lori Caldwell Designs features two rows of stunning wood-faced cabinets. Both sides of the cabinetry reach to the ceiling. One side has a sink but one wall is an entire wall of cabinets with tall storage.

More cabinets equal more space for extra storage. Notice the floor to ceiling window at the end of the room. Large windows that overlook a yard or garden like this example can make a galley kitchen feel so much more open.

Interest with wallpaper

Teal wallpaper at the end of a kitchen.

This kitchen galley design features an accent wall with geometric wallpaper. While the rest of the kitchen space is simple and clean, the wall with the open space defines the whole area.

High storage

High storage

If you can’t add additional storage in your small kitchen because of the width, consider adding vertical storage. We love the industrial style of this white galley kitchen. The owner has positioned the open shelving above the fridge.

The shelves are wide and reach to the ceiling drawing the eye upward to create a high focal point. This moves the focus away from the small space and adds extra storage at the same time.

A colorful rug

Add a rug to a galley kitchen for a pop of color.

Consider this galley kitchen with a colorful turkish runner. The rug adds more than just color to the otherwise neutral kitchen; it also provides a warm texture that elevates the style of the entire room.

Arched opening

adding personal touches in a galley kitchen.

This modern galley kitchen features an arched opening to create more visual space in the closed room. The stainless steel cabinets and colors keep the design light. Further, the open shelving in the corner looks more open than upper cabinets along both walls.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How can I make a galley kitchen look bigger?

The best way to make a galley kitchen look bigger is to increase the natural light by minimizing window treatments, keep the colors light overall, and utilize ideas like open shelving. You can also create openings to other rooms to make the kitchen look more spacious.

How should I add an island to a galley kitchen?

If a galley kitchen is large enough, a small island is possible. However, an island will inhibit the area of the walkway and perhaps reduce the efficient flow of the kitchen. Another option is to add a peninsula on one side of the kitchen for a small dining area.

How can I organize a small galley kitchen?

Because the area in most galley kitchens is small, the area you have is important and should be used as well as possible. First, keep your counter space, cabinets, and floors as clear from clutter as possible. Next, look for areas of storage that are left unexploited like the vertical space above the countertops. Add shelves where you can. Last, sometimes, there are areas that you don’t use because they are dark. Add extra task lighting to brighten up all the areas that you have. Sometimes, there are areas that you don’t use because they are dark.

Is a galley kitchen bad?

No, a galley kitchen layout is not inherently bad. Rather, there are more and less efficient ways of using the space in the kitchen that you have. Try to think outside the box to improve the efficiency of your kitchen space.

Should I open up a galley kitchen?

This depends on your budget, use of the kitchen, and the other areas of the home. Therefore, consider your kitchen and decide if a door or opening in the kitchen will improve the use of the kitchen and your house as a whole. Sometimes, kitchens function better when they are their own discrete area rather than just a cut through to another room.


Kitchen layout and design are the foundational elements that allow a kitchen to function well. While galley kitchens have gained a negative reputation, there are ways to make the most of the limited space. Further, when done well, these layouts are some of the most efficient and cohesive kitchens that exist.