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Renovating your kitchen can make a huge difference to how your home works on a daily basis. There’s a good reason why the kitchen is often called the heart or hub of your home: Imagine an uncluttered, stylish design with somewhere for the kids to sit and do their homework while you get on with dinner, a place to perch with a cup of coffee, and an entertaining space where you can spend time with friends while you cook.
A kitchen renovation isn’t just an investment in how your home functions; it can also add value. Estate agents estimate that a fitted kitchen renovation could increase your property price as much as 5% averaged across the UK or up to 10% in London. A well-planned, attractive, and clutter-free kitchen can improve your daily life and the value of your home. With this in mind, you can learn about the common kitchen layouts and styles in our guide below, as well as kitchen elements you’ll likely need and approximate costs for renovating your kitchen.
Types of kitchen layouts
The layout you choose is influenced by the room. There are several common variations homeowners can choose from that can help you make the most of your kitchen space:
- Single galley
- Double galley
- Island kitchen
We explore these in more detail below to help you work out which one is best for your kitchen.
What is a single galley kitchen?
Comprising one run of cabinets along a wall, the single-galley kitchen is most often found in narrow rooms. It’s ideal if you’re on a budget or short on space, but unless the room is long, it offers less worktop area than other layouts. It also won’t form a classic working triangle in which cooking, cooling, and wet areas form the invisible points of a triangle to minimise walking between each one. There also may not be space for seating to be sociable with family and friends. On the plus side, there are no corner cabinets that need storage solutions.
Since it’s a simple layout, you can organize a galley in the most convenient way for you. For most, it’s best to locate the food prep area between the hob and the sink with the refrigerator at one end of the run. This layout leaves the refrigerator easily accessible from the next room without having to walk through the cooking section.
What is a double galley kitchen?
A double galley is like a single galley but with two facing runs of units. It’s more suitable for larger, long kitchens. This means that a working triangle is easy to create with one ‘point’ on one side and the other two facing it. Double galleys are prone to the “corridor effect” when they’re filled with base and wall units on both sides though, so plan carefully to avoid the issue.
You can add variety into your kitchen remodel’s set-up by choosing reduced-depth units that free up floor area, break-fronted units that project out slightly from the rest of the run, or an open section with either no wall units or open shelving. Make sure there’s enough room in the middle of the room to move around and open doors without clashing.
The downside of double galley layouts is that they’re usually tight on space, designed for a single person to move around when cooking, rather than a place to socialise. To remedy this, think about including a small seating area at one end.
[Main Company pic here – kitchen functions as a double galley, with the peninsula in place of cabinetry against a wall. Credit The Main Company maincompany.com]
What is an L-shaped kitchen?
L-shaped kitchens are created from two runs of units that meet at a corner. They’re ideal for small- and medium-sized kitchens since they provide plenty of workspace, and the layout forms an effective working triangle with two points on one side and the third on the other counter. An L-shaped kitchen can also be a good choice as part of an open-plan room. However, it’s less suitable for larger kitchens, where the points of the triangle can be too far away from each other.
You’ll also need to find an effective internal storage solution for the corner cupboard to prevent it from turning into unusable space. This could be a magic corner (where racks extend out when the door is opened), a LeMans unit (where curved trays can be pulled outwards), or a corner carousel that rotates for access. On the plus side, L-shaped kitchens have the potential to be sociable—try adding a table and chairs in the free space or a compact peninsula at one end.
What is a U-shaped or G-shaped kitchen?
A kitchen unit designed along three walls is known as a U-shaped kitchen. As well as being the optimal layout for the working triangle, providing a wall for each of the points, it comes with plenty of storage and workspace. However, this layout creates two corners, which, like the L-shaped kitchen above, need an internal storage solution to prevent them from becoming dead space.
In a smaller room, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough space between each point of the triangle, and, should you want a dishwasher, think about where it will be located so the door doesn’t become an obstacle when it’s open. U-shaped layouts work best in spaces between 3 to 3.5 metres, since larger spaces will force you to spend more time walking across the room. If the kitchen remodel is in a space larger than 6 metres, an island layout will be more suitable.
If you add a peninsula at the end of one of the runs, the U-shaped layout becomes a G-shaped kitchen, making the space more sociable and versatile.
What is an island kitchen?
Sociable and perfectly suited to open-plan rooms, island kitchens include a workstation that isn’t attached to a wall or a run of kitchen cabinets. They’re often combined with another layout, such as an L-shaped run or a single-wall, providing ample storage space as well as a large section of worktop area. Islands can serve a number of purposes, becoming home to a hob, sink, or a breakfast bar for casual dining—or a combination of these. The island also helps create a working triangle and can be adapted with any element you need, such as a built-in butcher’s block, banquette seating, or a dining table.
However, you’ll need the budget and space for a kitchen island. Not only does one take up room, but an island also needs to have space all around it so you can walk around it easily and avoid door clashes. While the size and shape can vary, you should be able to reach to the centre of the kitchen island from at least one side.
What is a single-wall kitchen?
Similar to a galley kitchen, a single-wall kitchen forms a long run of units along one wall, and the difference is that it’s part of an open-plan kitchen. While there’s no ‘right’ layout, most place the fridge freezer at one end of the run, the sink in the centre, and the hob/oven at the opposite end. If there’s space, locating a dining table and chairs at one end of the run makes it more sociable.
Like the galley kitchen, there’s no option for creating a working triangle, so it’s recommended to ‘zone’ your space to make it more efficient. Zoning means you group similar functions in the same area, such as creating a cooking zone with food prep space on the worktop next to the oven and hob, with a cleaning zone next to it, consisting of the sink, dishwasher, and a place to put dirty crockery.
The units you choose can depend on the size of the existing kitchen, everyday practicality, your budget, and the style of your home. As you consider design ideas for your renovation project, review these main design categories:
Sleek and easy to maintain, modern kitchens keep details to a minimum. Doors are usually flat, with either a push-to-open mechanism, a finger pull notch at the top, or minimal handles. Modern kitchens tend to be influenced most by interior design trends, with the latest tactile matte finishes and timber veneers rivalling popular gloss doors. This category can also include industrial-style kitchens.
Classic kitchens are designs that have a timeless aesthetic. This includes Shaker-style kitchens, which feature doors that have a frame with a recessed centre panel, and simple in-frame kitchens, in which the doors sit within a frame rather than doors that attach directly to the carcass at one side (lay-on doors).
Typically filled with detail, traditional kitchens can span from country-style designs to grand schemes. Features may include cornices at the top and bottom of cabinets and mantelpieces above hobs and range cookers, as well as architectural flourishes, such as pilasters and corbels. In-frame doors are common, but it’s possible to find this style with lay-on doors at the more affordable end of the market.
In addition to layout and overall design, you’ll also need to determine which kitchen elements you need and choose the right ones for your home improvement project.
Plenty of storage is a must to ensure your kitchen stays clutter-free. As well as base units and wall units, you can also choose from tall cupboards, such as double-width larders, pull-out units in different heights, and deep drawers, which are perfect for storing crockery and pans. You can also add open shelving instead of wall cabinets.
Corner solutions, which make the most of an awkward space, and internal racks are a good idea for keeping everything accessible. For spare space at the end of a run, you may also want to consider built-in wine racks and slim pull-outs for oils and spices.
Worktops and splashbacks
Worktops are the foundation for much of the cooking you’ll do in your kitchen. As you balance practicality, aesthetics, and cost, you have many options. If you want to focus more on other elements in your kitchen, laminate is an affordable, durable choice that can come with some design limitations around sinks. Another simple option is solid wood, which needs more maintenance than other materials and can scorch.
If your worktop is important to you, consider solid laminate, composite stone or quartz, stainless steel, or granite. These options are all hard-wearing, resistant to stains, acid, and scratches, and are easy to clean.
At the premium end, you’ll find high-tech engineered materials. These include Fenix, a cellulose and resin “self-healing” material; porcelain; and Dekton ultra-compact, a mixture of porcelain and glass created with heat and pressure. Splashbacks can be either a continuation of the worktop or another material entirely, including toughened glass, acrylic, tiles, or stainless steel.
Your kitchen style can be a good starting point for choosing your appliances. If the look is sleek, you may want appliances that are fully integrated (hidden behind doors), while if it’s classic, a colourful range cooker works as a focal point. Must-haves include a hob and one or two ovens or a cooker, an effective extractor, and a fridge freezer (or separate models).
For many, a dishwasher is also a must: If space is limited, slimline models can squeeze into compact kitchens. Other appliances range from practical to nice to have, and you might have several on your wish list—such as built-in coffee machines, microwaves, warming drawers, and wine coolers. You may also need to allow space in your kitchen for laundry appliances.
Sinks and taps
Again, the style of your kitchen is a good guide to which sink and tap to choose. Sinks can be undermounted (sitting below the worktop line), drop-in (with a rim that sits on top of the worktop), or flush-mounted (sitting virtually flush with the worktop). Common sink materials include stainless steel, granite composite, or ceramic. All of these are durable options, although ceramic can chip if you drop heavy items in it. Consider how many bowls you’d like, too—one-and-a-half or double-bowl sinks allow one side to be used for soaking dishes and pans, which is handy for keen cooks.
As well as hot and cold water, many taps come with other functions. This can include instant boiling water; chilled, filtered, and sparkling water; or a pull-out spray that can be used for rinsing down the sink or food preparation. While chrome remains popular, you’ll find a range of metallic finishes, such as polished or aged brass or copper, nickel, and black or brushed stainless steel. Powder-coated colours are also an option.
When considering new flooring, hard flooring is the best option for kitchens. If you’d like to focus your budget on items other than kitchen flooring, laminate and LVT (luxury vinyl tiles and planks) can mimic real stone and wood without the maintenance. If choosing laminate, make sure you buy a kind that is suitable for kitchens, as some can be damaged by water. Timber flooring is also an option, although engineered wood is a better choice, as its planks can withstand the humid environment of a kitchen without shifting and warping like real wood.
Tiles are also a popular choice. At the budget end, you’ll find ceramic, which is low maintenance but can be chipped. A more durable option is porcelain, which often comes in wood and stone-effect designs. And for some homeowners, nothing beats the look of real stone; the main downside is that it’ll usually need sealing and resealing to prevent stains.
Aside from natural light that may come into the room, there are three types of artificial lighting you’ll find in a kitchen:
- Ambient or general lighting consists of overhead spotlights, pendants, and wall lights.
- Mood or accent lighting can be anything from LED strips below a worktop to lighting inside glass-fronted units. Its effect is a relaxing atmosphere when you’re not cooking.
- Task lighting is the lighting you use for food prep. This is usually installed below wall cabinets and shelving, and it prevents you from working in your own shadow. Extractor lights can also function as task lighting.
Cost of a new kitchen
Costs of a home renovation for a new kitchen can vary, and one of your decisions will be where you shop. Broadly, retailers can be divided into the following categories:
- National chains: This includes Wickes, Wren, Magnet, Ikea, Benchmarx, John Lewis, B&Q, and Howdens (which is trade only). Budget for at least £5,000 to £10,000 for your dream design.
- Kitchen studios: These are showrooms that may sell kitchens from more than one manufacturer (such as retailers that offer Rational and Burbidge), are a single brand (such as Harvey Jones), or are a franchise (such as In-Toto). Those that feature more than one brand usually offer kitchens at a range of price points, starting around £10,000, or small company brands can start around £20,000.
- High-end and bespoke studios: This includes companies such as Smallbone, Poggenpohl, Bulthaup, and Tom Howley (with more than one showroom), as well as independent makers. Bespoke can mean completely tailor-made for your home, but is often used to mean ranges that are adapted to fit the space. Budget at least £20,000.
- Secondhand kitchens: If you’d like to make the most of your budget, you might consider secondhand or ex-display kitchen elements. The downside is that ranges may be discontinued, making it difficult to buy additional matching units. It’s also worth investing in a good installer as units may need to be adapted. Try kitchen resellers The Used Kitchen Company, Used Kitchen Exchange, and Used Kitchen Hub.
Unexpected kitchen costs
Allow an extra 10% to 15% of your budget to address unforeseen expenses. These can include a plumber if you’re relocating a sink, dishwasher, or laundry appliances; the cost of moving a gas supply or relocating a boiler; or an electrician to add new wiring and sockets for appliances.
Removing your old kitchen and preparing and replastering will also add to your costs. Once old cabinets, appliances, and flooring are removed, it can be a surprise what’s behind them—it’s common to find old cables from previous light fixtures, walls that need repairs, or similar problems that should be addressed before installing new kitchen appliances.
DIY vs. installation services
While it’ll be cheaper to install a kitchen yourself, you’ll need to be a competent DIY’er and have the right tools to do it. Know your skillset and how much time you want to personally devote to creating the kitchen of your dreams before deciding to do it yourself. The average kitchen fitting costs around £5,000 to £6,000, although it depends on the size and complexity of the design. Small kitchens may cost as little as £1,000 to fit. If you do the work yourself, your budget stops there.
However, professional installation is often the best route for a kitchen you’re investing in. A fitter will make sure that your design looks its best and will ensure there aren’t any gaps between units, uneven surfaces, or doors that don’t open correctly. A fitter will also have all the right tools for the job, fit your new kitchen quickly, and clear up after the job is complete. Plus, a fitter’s work may have its own warranty; for example, the Approved Installers service at Wickes has a two-year workmanship guarantee on top of the kitchen guarantees.
Renovating your kitchen can make a huge difference to your home and everyday life. If it’s well-designed, a new kitchen can be more functional, easier to keep clean and clutter-free, and more sociable as a practical and welcoming heart of the home. Investing now in quality choices for style, layout, and kitchen elements will pay off with ease of use and a higher home value.
If you’re concerned about your kitchen looking dated years down the line, it’s best to choose a timeless design, such as a Shaker-style kitchen. However, if you’re looking for low maintenance, a sleek, modern kitchen will be easy to keep clean.
Once you have a good idea of the kind of kitchen you’d like, devote some time to visiting showrooms to see them in real life. You can also start your kitchen journey now by requesting quotes from top kitchen designers to give you an idea of exactly what you can do in your new kitchen.