Plan a Fantastic L-Shaped Kitchen Design

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Written by Carol Van Zile, NKBA Certified Kitchen Designer

If you have a bit more space to work with, an L-shaped design is a popular choice that offers an open and flexible layout. This familiar shape is described by two countertops that usually (but not always) run along two walls and tuck neatly into a corner.

L-shaped kitchens are typically found in small to medium-sized homes and work well, if space permits, wrapped around dining tables or islands. The design is highly functional, offering an expanded work triangle (the shape made between the fridge, range, and sink) with multiple configurations for appliances along the room’s perimeter while still leaving space for guests and onlookers to help the cook!

Things to Keep in Mind During Your Design

Think big

The L-shape already provides more space for kitchen tasks than a galley or one-wall layout. If you have room, you might consider adding an island or even a peninsula. The extra counter, storage, and seating space is especially useful in multiple-cook kitchens or when the kitchen is used as a gathering place or family common area.

Both options divide the kitchen into cooking and eating areas, and both offer additional seating and storage options. Peninsulas and islands are able to accommodate prep sinks, cooktops or other functional areas that are good for more than chopping carrots. While similar in function, the choice between an island and a peninsula is largely dependent on the use, layout, and size of your kitchen.

Is there room to move about all sides of the addition? Islands or dressed-down worktables fit well in larger kitchens and can allow guests to flow more freely between the main kitchen and dining spaces. If your space is smaller or you want to partition the space more completely, peninsulas can connect to one wall or a length of counter, giving additional square footage in a tighter space.

Plan your work triangle

Beyond countertop layout, your appliance and sink placement are arguably the most important factors in how you will actually use your kitchen. Imagine if your refrigerator was right next to your stove.  Or if your dishwasher and sink were at opposite ends of your kitchen. Design flaws like these make it difficult to enjoy your space.

To create a harmonious work environment, the points of your work triangle will all need to be in easy reach, with common task areas grouped together.

Typically, you’ll find your cooking area (stove and refrigerator) on one wall with your cleaning area (sink and dishwasher) on another. If you do install an island, you’ll have more options for layout — possibly incorporating a cooktop or additional prep sink. As long as the flow feels right to you and there is enough space between appliances, there are few wrong choices for layout. Working with a trained professional can make the options clear and the decisions easy.

While the L-shape offers many options for appliance placement, you’ll be fairly confined to established gas, electric, and water hookups unless you plan a major remodel. Moving a gas cooktop to the middle of your new island can be done — but it will take some reconfiguration of your underlying architecture that may be out of scope in smaller remodels.

Keep it interesting

The best aspect of the L-shaped kitchen may also be its worst.

The L-shape is accommodating and flexible. It’s generally spacious enough to accomplish all your kitchen tasks with room to spare for entertaining. But because the layout is so popular, some homeowners may shy away from the ubiquitous design in favor of something more “interesting.”

Even if it’s on the boring or predictable side, the L-shape’s functionality is hard to argue with — but that doesn’t mean you have to choose functionality over design.  Even if every home on your street shares the same basic layout, your materials, finishes, flooring, lighting and décor options can distinguish the space and define it as totally your own.

What matters is that you love your kitchen. Design trends come and go, but what’s most important is that you feel comfortable in your space and are proud to call it yours.