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A guide to decorating your galley kitchen

For many professional chefs, this is the preferred kitchen layout, because a galley kitchen is optimally laid out for efficient movement between workstations. Despite this, these types of kitchen are often loathed by owners of flats and smaller houses, where they are usually employed as space savers.

Galley kitchens have two parallel rows of counters running down a long room with a narrow central floor space, essentially creating a corridor that leads to nowhere. While these rooms are incredibly functional, making the best use of limited space, many property owners feel there’s not much they can do with the room, especially if extending out is not an option. This means it becomes a purely utilitarian area, with little thought for aesthetics, as the room is only used while cooking. However, it need not be like this. Here are our top tricks to transform your galley kitchen into a more welcoming space.

Kitchen in an small studio apartment

Credit: Charles & Hudson. Via Flickr. Cropped. CC License


Go for shelving instead of cabinets

In a narrow space, cupboard units can cause the ‘corridor effect’ where the room feels overly narrow and claustrophobic. This can be avoided by going for open shelving on at least one of the walls. As you make the room more visually open, it seems more spacious. Plus, it makes it much easier to grab pots, pans and plates whenever you need them. If you have high-enough ceilings, then an overhanging rack is a stylish feature that allows you to free up the walls entirely.

Add some seating

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but with a galley kitchen, it’s rare to find the space to make it the social hub of the property. With such cramped confines, there’s no sprawling island for guests to sit at and sip wine while you prep dinner. However, it may be possible to squeeze in a petite bistro set with a couple of chairs towards the far wall. This gives you a place to eat when in a rush, to sit and write shopping lists, and a spot to seat the kids if you want to keep an eye on them while you cook. If you still can’t draw them in and you’re getting lonely, then consider installing a wall-mounted television or a decent set of speakers for entertainment, while the rest of the household relaxes elsewhere.

Modern Kitchen with Island, metro tile wall and a white granite worktop

Credit: Nancy Hugo, CKD. Via Flickr. CC License

Knock through

If going open plan is an option for you, then you should consider it. If you don’t want the kitchen to encroach into the living area, then keep the dimensions of the galley kitchen the same, but still remove the wall. This way the living area is kept the same size, but both spaces will feel more airy and bright. The kitchen peninsula created by removing the wall can then also double up as a breakfast bar.

Closeup of gas stove in white kitchen

Embrace commercial-spec equipment

Professional chefs love a galley-style kitchen as it makes for a super efficient workspace – you can grab some ingredients from the fridge, chop them up and throw them into a pan on the hob without having to dilly-dally around the room.

So why not embrace this in your kitchen and kit it out like a pro? Go for a good-quality range cooker and install a mighty kitchen hose with deep sink to wash up glasses and plates in a matter of seconds. Just don’t expect your other half to regimentally respond with a “Yes, chef!” every time you ask them to pass the salt.

Small Modern Kitchen with a wooden plank wall backdrop

Make a feature of the far wall

The far wall, which in most galley kitchens will be a dead end, is perhaps the most important decor aspect to pay attention to. After all, when anyone walks into the room, it’s the first thing they’ll see, so it makes sense to turn this area into a decorative feature. Add some artwork or even a chalkboard to add character to the room. If this space contains a window, then obviously don’t do anything to obscure it, but you could turn this into a feature wall by painting it an accent colour, or even going for some quirky kitchen-friendly wallpaper.


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