Named for the long corridor-style cooking quarters of Navy ships, galley kitchens are characterized by their efficient use of space. Galley kitchens feature a central workspace, positioned between two parallel runs of cabinetry and appliances. This configuration is popular in professional kitchens, ships, planes and other places that tend to be short on space because it enhances both efficiency and safety by reducing the amount of movement necessary between work stations. Movements are limited to short steps side-to-side or making partial turns to move between the kitchen’s main areas: the sink, the cooktop, and the fridge.
By eliminating the need to walk across the room or navigate around an island to perform necessary tasks, the risk of accidents is reduced. Though single-wall kitchens are similarly safe, they tend to be short on storage and prep space. Galley kitchens are favorable in that they not only provide safety and efficiency, but they also provide ample space for working and storage. However, a keen eye to detail is still necessary when planning a galley kitchen, as improper placement or insufficient lighting can detract from what should be an otherwise beneficial workspace. These gorgeous kitchens show the different ways in which you can make a properly-designed galley kitchen work for you:
For the sake of aesthetics, many galley kitchens will try to achieve some form of symmetry, meaning that the parallel sides mirror each other. The sides tend to be about the same length while the base, wall and tall cabinets are configured similarly on both sides. The sink is placed on one side while the stove or cooktop is located on the other. However, this is not always the case. Asymmetrical galley design styles such as the one featured above completely reject the notion that symmetry is necessary by placing the main work spaces on one side and locating the storage areas on the other. When this is the case, the wall with the sink and stove should be at least 12 feet long in order to provide sufficient work space. If an asymmetrical style appeals to you, note that the sink and stove should be placed at least one foot away from each other, but preferably as much as three feet if space allows.
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This monochrome white Shaker kitchen fully embraces the idea of symmetry. Both sides are almost identical to each other, with base, wall, and tall cabinets mirroring each other perfectly. While this most certainly enhances the look of the galley kitchen, it highlights what just may be the galley design style’s biggest flaw: high foot traffic. Unlike the previous kitchen’s asymmetrical design style where most of the work is contained to one side, this symmetrical kitchen will require the cook to pivot from one side to the other more frequently. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the kitchen were closed off at the end, but this kitchen creates a corridor that leads to an entryway. This means that the kitchen will experience a lot more foot traffic than others, which can be a nuisance as far as cooking and cleaning is concerned.
While many galley kitchens tend to be closed off by a simple wall at one end, this corridor leads to a cozy dining area. Though this doesn’t fully eliminate the issue of foot traffic, movement through the kitchen will more likely be limited to right before meal times, once the meal has already been prepped and cooked. One run also extends outward, creating a peninsula that can be used as prep space, or an additional seating area on the opposite side. This extension also enlarges the kitchen in general, creating extra space that can be comfortably occupied by an additional cook or family member.
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Galley kitchens that are enclosed between two walls can often be dark, so it’s very important to pay close attention to lighting. As with every kitchen space, you’ll need the right combination of ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient lighting operates as the main light source. Because galley kitchens tend to be long, a singular light source in the center of the room may not be enough, so a row of recessed lights or track lights will ensure that the lighting is evenly dispersed throughout the room. Task lighting is needed to illuminate the work areas for easier and safer food prep and cooking. The kitchen above smartly utilizes under-cabinet LED lighting which helps to brighten pertinent work areas that ambient lighting may not be able to reach. Finally, accent lights help accentuate the features of the space that you really want to showcase. If you choose to include accent lighting, there are plenty of unique and eye-catching accent light ideas that can be incorporated into your kitchen, including inner-cabinet and above-cabinet lights.
While many galley kitchens are situated between two walls, the corridor can also be formed with an island. The above kitchen illustrates how this configuration helps to open up the kitchen space, allowing it to be more sociable. The asymmetrical design utilizes both a long island and a small table for one side, creating an unconventional run that enhances the sociability of the space by allowing for ample seating. Though this particular design has the stove and sink on the same side, many designers and homeowners choose to place them on opposite sides. Because the working side of the kitchen is on the larger side, including two sinks helps to enhance the efficiency of the space. Another design option is to place the additional sink on the island instead. As far as galley kitchens go, the island configuration is optimal for those who enjoy a more social kitchen atmosphere.