Mastering a Galley Kitchen Cabinet Layout: Space-Saving Strategies

Posted in Design Advice

Modern Oak kitchen cabinets with white countertop

When it comes to kitchen remodels, galley kitchens pose a particular challenge: making the most of limited space. If you've ever worked in a narrow galley kitchen, you understand the importance of every inch. This involves optimizing cabinet layouts—a careful balance of aesthetics and practicality—to turn small spaces into efficient areas.

In this blog, we’ll explore how you can maximize storage, enhance functionality, and create a visually appealing layout in your narrow kitchen space.

What is a Galley Kitchen?

Galley kitchens are characterized by their narrow layout with two parallel walls of cabinets and countertops facing each other. While this design can efficiently utilize space, it also presents challenges regarding limited room for movement and storage. However, these challenges can be overcome–transforming galley kitchens into highly functional and stylish spaces.

One wall of white oak kitchen cabinets in a galley kitchen


  • Efficient use of space
  • Easy access to all areas of the kitchen
  • Ideal for small or narrow spaces
  • Opportunity for symmetry in design and aesthetics


  • Potential for a cramped feel
  • Requires careful planning to optimize the layout
  • Lack of dining or gathering space

When it comes to galley kitchens, squeezing every bit of space matters. You've got to be smart about storage and how you arrange those cabinets. Think about using the walls–hanging stuff up can save lots of room. And don't forget about where you put your appliances; a little strategic placement can make a big difference. 

How to Maximize Storage in Galley Kitchen Cabinet Layouts

When it comes to storage solutions in galley kitchens–creativity is key. From utilizing vertical storage options to optimizing underutilized areas such as the backs of doors consider every nook and cranny. Here are some strategies to maximize storage space:

Dark kitchen cabinets with accents of light wood and custom range hood

Utilizing Vertical Space Solutions

Consider installing tall cabinets that reach the ceiling to take advantage of vertical space. This provides additional storage for items that are used less frequently, such as seasonal cookware or small appliances. Incorporate pull-out shelves and racks within tall cabinets to enhance accessibility and organization. These additions allow you to efficiently utilize the full height of the cabinet while keeping items neatly arranged and within reach.

Optimizing Cabinet Depth

Choose cabinets with shallower depths to prevent items from getting lost in the back of the cabinet. Shallow cabinets ensure better visibility and accessibility to stored items, reducing the need to rummage through deep spaces. Drawer organizers can help maximize usable space and ensure easy access to pots, pans, and pantry items.

floor to ceiling pantry with open doors and shelf pulled out to display depth of pantry

Kitchen corner featuring open shelves and green custom cabinets

Strategic Placement of Appliances

By incorporating panelled and custom cabinetry into your space, you're not just adding functionality but also enhancing its visual charm. Begin by seamlessly integrating built-in appliances within the cabinetry, achieving a sophisticated and clutter-free ambiance while optimizing the available space. This strategic arrangement not only enhances the overall aesthetic flow of the room but also ensures that vital appliances are conveniently accessible.

Design Strategies for Galley Kitchen Cabinets

The design of your kitchen cabinets can impact functionality, aesthetics, and practicality. By thoughtfully integrating these elements, you can create a kitchen space that reflects your unique style. Here are some key considerations:

Galley kitchen layout featuring blue custom wood cabinets with island in the centre

Importance of Colour

Opt for light-coloured cabinets to create a sense of openness and brightness in your home. White galley kitchen cabinet layouts or neutral tones can visually expand the space and make it more inviting. Additionally, reflective surfaces such as glossy finishes can help bounce light around the room. White oak cabinets are always a popular choice we see from our clients. Not only are they stunning but are very durable for a high-traffic area like the kitchen!

Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets

When it comes to storage, you can choose open shelving or closed cabinets based on your needs and personal style. Open shelving can create an airier and more modern look but requires careful organization to avoid clutter. Closed cabinets provide a sleek and streamlined appearance while concealing clutter and maintaining a tidy look. Both options have advantages, but it's important to note that closed cabinets are more practical, while open shelves are a good option for décor.  

Customization Options

Transforming a galley kitchen into an inviting culinary space involves a thoughtful selection of finishes and materials. Classic choices such as matte, glossy, or textured finishes each impart a unique character to the space, setting the tone for its ambiance. Additionally, the diverse spectrum of wood types—from the comforting warmth of oak to the refined sophistication of walnut or the contemporary allure of bamboo—offers endless design possibilities.

Enhance Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for creating a functional and inviting kitchen environment. When planning your cabinet layout, consider how lighting fixtures can be integrated to illuminate work surfaces and enhance visibility. Under-cabinet lighting can illuminate countertops, making food preparation tasks easier and more efficient. Additionally, pendant lights or recessed lighting fixtures can provide ambient and task lighting, enhancing functionality and aesthetic appeal in your galley kitchen.

Close up of corner oak wood kitchen cabinets featuring glass panel storage

White modern kitchen with cabinets and countertop

Close up of custom green kitchen cabinets with oak shelving accents

Tips for Galley Kitchen Cabinet Layouts

As you are planning your galley kitchen cabinet layout, keep these five simple tips in mind to achieve the best results:

1. Seek Professional Advice

Consult a professional kitchen designer or remodelling expert for personalized recommendations tailored to your space and budget. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls. Contact the Chervin Kitchen & Bath team to get started with your kitchen design.

2. Consider Traffic Flow

Efficient traffic flow is crucial in a galley kitchen to prevent congestion and facilitate smooth movement between areas. When designing your cabinet layout, consider the natural traffic patterns within the space and ensure that placement does not impede movement. Leave adequate space between cabinets and appliances for comfortable navigation and avoid placing cabinets or drawers in high-traffic areas.

3. Prioritize Functionality Over Aesthetic Appeal

While aesthetics is important, prioritize functionality when designing your cabinet layout. Focus on maximizing storage, optimizing workflow, and enhancing usability to create a kitchen that works seamlessly for your needs.

4. Choose High-Quality and Durable Materials

Invest in high-quality cabinet materials that can withstand the rigours of daily use and stand the test of time. Choose from solid woods like pine, white oak, or walnut for guaranteed longevity and durability. At Chervin Kitchen & Bath, our customization options are endless to suit any style of your home.

5. Declutter and Organize

Take the time to declutter and organize your kitchen to create a sense of spaciousness and order. Purge unused items, invest in storage solutions such as drawer dividers and utensil trays, and establish designated zones for different tasks to streamline your workflow.

Custom wood drawer cutlery organizer and knife block

Close up of lower kitchen cabinets with backlit corner le mans storage organizer


Overall, optimizing cabinet layouts in galley kitchens requires careful planning, creativity, and attention to detail. Maximizing storage, embracing design strategies, and prioritizing functionality can transform your narrow kitchen space into a highly efficient and stylish culinary haven. Get inspired and start planning your dream galley kitchen today!

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