Kitchens – the heart of all homes. Where families feast, friends gather, and we can enjoy our caffeine kick-starter for each day in our stylish PJs.
But the amount of practicalities (and, in turn, comfort) our kitchens afford us has a great deal to do with their layouts. Be it a galley kitchen, a one-wall layout, or an L-shape, each layout style offers its own set of space – and, therefore, its advantages and creative possibilities.
The one style we want to focus on today is the U-shaped layout. U-shaped kitchens are when the cabinets and appliances are arranged in such a manner to form a “U” shape. Essentially, it is three lines of adjoining appliances and countertops, with two parallel lines being perpendicular to the third. They can be designed for either small or large spaces. They can accommodate ample storage and provide adequate surfaces for preparation, cooking, and displaying.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves… Let’s take it from the (counter) top!
The “work triangle”, which is the epitome of kitchen efficiency, is best demonstrated in a U-shaped kitchen. It is a concept used to determine efficient kitchen layouts, and it is used by everybody from novice cooks and culinary masterminds to first-time homeowners and expert kitchen layout designers.
The primary tasks in any kitchen are carried out between the oven / cooking top (heat), the sink (water), and the refrigerator (cold). These three points (and the imaginary lines that link them together) make up the work triangle – and it can be noticed in any and every kitchen. The more effective the work triangle (meaning the less skew that triangle is), the more easily you can move between the three aforementioned spaces.
The U-shaped design is often considered to be the most efficient kitchen floor plan, as its work triangle ensures only a small travel distance between each work zone.
A peninsula is basically a connected island, converting an L-shaped kitchen layout into a horseshoe or U-shape. In many kitchens that have this layout, the peninsula serves as a room divider that separates the kitchen from a dining space or living room area.
Your U-shaped kitchen basically offers you a choice of which side you want to place your peninsula (and its accommodating chairs). A peninsula offers additional counter space, cabinet storage and bar seating, but also dishes up space for working or friends who want to keep you company in the kitchen.
So, will it be opposite the window? Will it have a view of the fridge or the stove?
homify hint: Scared the U-shape might conjure up some claustrophobic feelings? Use accents or decor to avoid the boxed-in look.
One major advantage of the U-shaped kitchen is that it offers more working space, meaning it is the perfect culinary area for the cook who wants an assistant or two. With its spacious layout and adequate working triangle, two cooks can work in relevant peace without bumping into each other.
But it’s not just the culinary workers who benefit. More space means more guests, as the U-shape allows for a great entertaining zone for friends, or just a normal spacious area for all those family members.
And because of its closed layout, there is no traffic through the work zone – meaning no disruption for you as you’re multi-tasking between stirring that sauce on the stove, rinsing the fresh veggies in the sink, and retrieving some more wine from the fridge.
If you use a peninsula as one of the sides of the “U”, it creates a dashing space for guests to sit opposite you while you cook. Be honest: how many of us love to continue a gossip session with a friend while one of us is busy in the kitchen? Well, this provides a safe and comfortable place for the friend(s) out of the cook’s way.
Using an island bench top this way separates your kitchen duties (slicing, chopping and boiling) from your social ones (talking, sharing and laughing), allowing you to cook and entertain with no fuss.
homify hint: Enhance that social hot spot even further. The U-shaped kitchen works even more splendidly when the one ‘leg’ or bench is opened up to an adjoining room (such as the dining area) to create a more open-plan area.
For the cook who doesn’t associate cooking time with talking time, the U-shaped kitchen is still a clever option, as the “U” shape tends to by physically private even if the arrangement might not be visually private. Having bench tops on three sides presents ample cooking space, and it also means all of your appliances are easily accessible.
To maximise your space even more, ensure those surface tops are clutter-free. Keep your microwave, appliances or large cooking essentials in kitchen cabinets, freeing up valuable space for meal prepping or decor displaying.
homify hint: Move your fridge or stove (or both) out of the main ”U” shape to give you even more food- and appliance storage. Now there’s the perfect kitchen for the cook who wants to go pro!
If your kitchen is large enough (meaning if that “U” shape is wide or long enough), you have the perfect opportunity to add more surface space. Why not add an island or loose table to the middle of the room, which can work fabulously as a breakfast or dining area? It can also double up as a homework station for the kids.
Industry guidelines recommend at least 3½ feet between the island (or the table’s chairs) and surrounding cabinets and appliances, ensuring that doors can open properly and people can move around safely.
Kitchen islands? Lovely idea! Now, let’s view some: Kitchen islands to treasure.