Oh My Kitchen Is Too Small To…

The Beauty Of A Galley Kitchen

Michael Neumann Architecture

Commercial ships, trains, and private aircraft often have small cooking areas designed to utilize space while allowing to cook for the masses. This is where the term “Galley” comes from. Strictly, the term refers to a kitchen with the units in two facing lines. The first galley kitchens, in the 1920s, were actually built outside of homes and “fitted” onsite. Chefs all around the world prefer a galley kitchen more than any other design. So let’s stop bellyaching about small kitchens get over the “oh my kitchen is too small to….

The Benefits Of Designing A Small Kitchen

Not all small kitchens are simply two walls. We are using galley kitchens as examples today because indeed they can be some of the smallest kitchen spaces. Regardless of the layout of a small kitchen, the benefits abound. Small kitchens utilize every inch and are efficient. Small kitchens can support edgy designs and take on unique personalities. Small kitchens can be less costly to implement and require less time to clean. Today let’s look at some truly small kitchens and debunk some of the reasons everyone wants a big kitchen!

“My kitchen’s ceiling are too low for beams.”

Don’t be afraid to entertain the concept of “lowering” the ceilings within a good design plan. What? Have we not been trained of late that the standard 8′ ceilings are a detriment and we just have to “live with them?” Look at this absolutely charming kitchen below that has very deep ceiling beams. Look closely and you will even see one of these beams intersects directly between a pair of windows. Fab!

Before any naysayers judge the lack of covered wall cabinets, as designers that design for those who cook, let us say that open shelving is certainly an asset. Having the items we use every day in site while looking so design savvy is a plus. We know now you are thinking but I don’t want to keep things tidy and what about dust? Ask anyone, who uses open shelving with a solid plan of housing what you have to clean every day anyway, that keeping these shelves sparkling is not a chore at all.

“There is no way I can fit an island in my kitchen.”

Maybe you can. If you could for a couple of hundred dollars would you get your tape measure out? Many times we assist our clients to update, and completely change their space by adding in a portable island. Stainless work tables can double as a work surface and, perhaps, even allow for a chef’s pull-up stool. Ideally, leaving a minimum of 36″ around a central piece is good, however, if 30″ is what you have and feel comfy with this…go for it. Top Chef, here you come!

Project Orange

Gotta comment a bit more on this space. This kitchen looks like it has “evolved”. Storage of what is needed has been added in such a charming way. Love the books over the door. Some just have to be cookbooks.

“A small kitchen is so limited.”

Limited? Do you mean in choices? Let’s go back to our featured galley example. First, a small space is less square footage and automatically costs less to implement a design. Our design dollars go much further in a smaller space. Explore the stainless cabinets or countertops. Select the high-end professional range of your dreams and choose the integrated refrigerator. Why settle for one fantastic light fixture when a few more will be a knockout and give you more light? Not to mention, with a few more dollars left, every piece of dishware and equipment can be exactly what you want. Well-designed small kitchens will be interesting and of the highest quality. We’re in!

One more comment, or two, about this glorious space. As designers, we love that the refrigerator is “built-in” at the end of the galley and that the right side counters are not standard depth. Every kitchen can benefit from both narrow and extra depth storage and the best-planned kitchens know exactly where this is needed from the start of planning. And all this natural light reflecting off the stainless..oh my!

“My kitchen is so dark.”

All good designs take both the natural light and added lighting into consideration at the very start of the planning. We hear so many clients have fear of using “black” and try to nix it from any plan. Stop being afraid. Light, white color palettes thrive with contrast. Small spaces like the galley wall below is so chic and user-friendly with its dark cabinet and counter combination. Imagine a white counter top…not nearly so interesting and a bit “chubby” if we may say so!

Beneditke Ugland

Open Plan Kitchens ARE Galley Kitchens


If we didn’t lose you with the idea that a small, galley kitchen can absolutely perform to the highest standards AND you think you think an “open” plan kitchen is so very different. Time to burst the bubble a tiny bit. The concept that makes a galley function so well, is the same as an open plan kitchen. Wait. No. Yes, it is. Back-to-back working counter spaces, where all the necessary functions are within reach. Take a closer look above. Sink across from cooking area, the dishwasher is most likely next to this sink. Behind those glossy tall panels are probably the refrigerator, and possibly a hidden microwave in a pantry cabinet. Like my recent, personal kitchen design, the chef does not have to take a hundred steps to do it all. Hum…sounds like a galley concept to us!

The First Question To Ask A Kitchen Designer

Our kitchens are probably, no they are the most important spaces in our homes. It’s where we laugh, cry, and certainly love. Our kitchens are where we live. Pondering an update to an existing kitchen, or building new, a kitchen designer can be an asset. Just like our beloved hairdressers, with talents that we can’t achieve on our own, hiring a kitchen designer can make a world of difference. The first question to ask anyone you are considering…“Do you cook?” Remember the last time you “trimmed” your own hair? Same thing.

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7 thoughts on “Oh My Kitchen Is Too Small To…”

  1. I am transitioning from a galley kitchen to an open kitchen. I like both. It’s all about organization. Great imagery. 👀🍃

    1. Julia Child said she only need 3’ of counter space. Both a challenge and a comfort I believe.

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