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Making the Most of Your Small Kitchen Renovation

Posted by Merillat Marketing on 06/02/2010
Kitchen Work Triangle

Kitchen Work Triangle

In a small kitchen we know how hard it can be to keep things organized and flowing smoothly. It seems like stuff piles up everywhere, from the week’s worth of mail on the counter to your kids’ after-school clutter.  Combine this with existing storage and work flow issues and things can get out of hand quickly. Take heart; you don’t have to put up with daily clutter and limited storage space.  When planning a redesign, a few simple considerations can help make your kitchen a “clutter-free” zone and feel larger than it actually is.

Layout Options

The first thing to do when redesigning a small kitchen is to choose a layout that fits your space requirements and needs. Here are some options to consider:

L-Shaped Kitchen – This is the most popular design, appropriate for any size kitchen. The L-shaped kitchen is made up of two walls (or legs) and gives you the possibility of having a center island depending on your available space. In general, this design will have 2 or 3 appliances on one wall with the refrigerator typically at one end, the range or cooktop at the other end with the sink located in the middle. This shape of kitchen generally provides good traffic flow.

U-Shaped Kitchen – This design features three walls, with the sink usually located in the middle wall section. The refrigerator and range or cooktop are typically on the side walls opposite each other. The U-shaped kitchen design allows for ample countertop space and cabinetry, and creates a very efficient work triangle.  Using skylights, large windows, under-cabinet task lighting and light colors will help keep the kitchen bright.floorplans-top

G-Shaped/Peninsula Kitchen – This type of kitchen shape is becoming very popular, as it gives you a fourth wall or peninsula to use.  It is usually not suitable for a very small kitchen because there may not be room for the fourth leg.  The G-shape is especially nice if you have more than one cook in the house. The fourth wall section can be used for extra counter space, a cleanup zone, a cooktop, or added seating.

Galley Kitchen – Often called the corridor style, the galley kitchen design is more common in apartments or in smaller homes. Cabinets and appliances can be located on opposite walls for easy work flow.  Placing the range or cooktop on one side of the kitchen along one wall and the refrigerator and sink on the opposite wall also allows better flow.

Single-Wall Kitchen – If you have very little space for anything but a single-wall kitchen, try to place the sink between the refrigerator and the stove for added efficiency. Locate the refrigerator so that the door opens away from the kitchen sink. This is a very common layout for small kitchens with narrow spaces.

The Work Triangle

Whichever layout you choose, it’s important to also follow the basic “work triangle” method in kitchen design.  This is a triangle formed between the sink, refrigerator and stove/oven with no more than 9’ between two areas, and no less than 4’. For more info, check out this condensed view of NKBA guidelines for kitchen space planning around the work triangle.floorplans-bottom

Cabinets and Lighting in a Small Kitchen

For extra storage, install tall kitchen cabinets that extend to the ceiling, placing the items you use less often on the top shelves. Built-in or fitted cabinets can increase available storage. There are also an abundance of cabinet accessories available that can help you store your kitchen essentials more efficiently.

Both natural and artificial lighting are important in creating the illusion of a larger, brighter kitchen. The best setup involves “light layering” where accent, ambient and task lighting are combined; this can be done inexpensively.  See our recent blog post on choosing the right lighting for your kitchen design to learn more.

These are just a few tips when considering a redesign of your small space to make it as efficient and clutter-free as possible.  Which floor plan fits best with your available square footage and kitchen orientation?

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