Galley Kitchen Ideas to Make the Most of What You Have

A galley kitchen is one with a long and narrow layout. Despite their unfavorable reputation, galley kitchens have a lot to offer because of their ergonomic layout and ability to fit into homes of varying sizes. Galley kitchens are an excellent way to maximize kitchen space in a small space. Furthermore, achieving it does not require sacrificing style. There are inventive ways to make the most of the practical shape while maintaining high style in a galley kitchen.

What is a Galley Kitchen?

The galley kitchen was named because of its similarity to the kitchens on a ship, where the limited space demanded a streamlined shape. Galley kitchens became popular in the 20th century, when kitchens moved from being a separate room and began to be integrated into the rest of the home. It became a popular kitchen style in the mid-20th century because of its streamlined appearance and modular style.

What is a galley kitchen?What is a galley kitchen?

Galley kitchens are shaped like a long hallway with upper cabinets and lower cabinets on either side of the corridor. There are parallel counters on either side, with appliances interspersed throughout. Some galley kitchens have a dining area incorporated into the layout, either at the end of the cabinets or as an extension of the counter space in the form of a small island.


  • Cost and design: The smaller square footage of most galley kitchens means they are less expensive and easier to design, build, and renovate. 
  • Ergonomic: The shape of a galley kitchen makes food prep easier on the body because of the proximity of all the countertops and appliances to one another.
  • Accessibility: Everything is more accessible in a galley kitchen than it would be in a larger space.
  • Maintenance: Galley kitchens are easier and quicker to clean than kitchens that are larger.


  • Narrow: Galley kitchens have a narrower layout. This makes it difficult for multiple people to be in the kitchen at the same time.
  • Lack of focal point: This type of kitchen layout can seem to lack an obvious focal point as the cabinets and appliances blend seamlessly together.
  • Resale: The resale value of homes with galley kitchens tends to be less than kitchen layouts that are larger.
  • Lack of space: Some small galley kitchens lack enough storage and counter space.
  • Small appliances: Standard sized appliances are best used in galley kitchens as there is less space for larger and custom appliances.
Pros and cons of a galley kitchenPros and cons of a galley kitchen
Smartstyle Interiors

Galley Kitchen Ideas and Inspiration

We have rounded up some stunning galley kitchen designs for you to consider. Galley kitchens work well in a variety of home styles and sizes.

A Room With a View

Here comes the sunHere comes the sun
Jackson and LeRoy

This galley kitchen from Jackson and LeRoy features painted kitchen cabinets and a wall of windows along one side with wall cabinets along the other. Even though this is a narrow space, the natural light makes the room seem more open. Further, the tall wall cabinet mixed with the open shelving breaks the hallway feel of the room.

Maximize it with Light Colors

Cream backsplash and white cabinets in a galley kitchen.Cream backsplash and white cabinets in a galley kitchen.

A galley kitchen with light colors will look larger than a kitchen with dark colors. Even without windows to brighten the space, this white kitchen looks open and pleasant. Notice also the backsplash in a darker neutral tone. This gives the galley style kitchen some needed texture and greater depth. The dark wood flooring counterbalances and grounds the design to create a pleasing overall design.

Galley kitchen with peninsula

Ideas for a galley kitchen to add a pop of color.Ideas for a galley kitchen to add a pop of color.

This galley kitchen uses a vivid color to distract from the small square footage. The bright blue subway tile offers a pleasing contrast to the gray cabinetry and stainless steel refrigerator and oven. A breakfast bar on a peninsula helps to make the most of this kitchen layout. The peninsula works better than a galley kitchen with an island as space is limited.

Patterned backsplash

Adding a pattern to a galley kitchen wall.Adding a pattern to a galley kitchen wall.

This galley kitchen features a patterned backsplash with white cabinetry. The patterned tile backsplash creates a focal point that is interesting but not overwhelming to the design. The darker base cabinets provide some warm texture to the kitchen design to anchor it and give it more visual interest.

A Simple Floor Design

Paint a floor in a galley kitchen.Paint a floor in a galley kitchen.

The sleek galley kitchen design has blue flooring that is as interesting as it is unexpected. The blue floor serves to ground the light colors of the kitchen space, while the white walls and natural wood cabinets keep the kitchen design bright.

Traditional galley kitchens

Traditional galley kitchensTraditional galley kitchens
Heidi Caillier Design

This galley kitchen design from Heidi Caillier works well for a transitional or farmhouse galley kitchen style. The interior design creates contrast by using two colors on the cabinets, a soft gray green and ivory, and finishing them with warm wood countertops. The galley kitchen lighting is spare. Rather than use large overhead lights, Caillier has added task lighting where it is needed.

Open shelving

Open shelving in small kitchens.Open shelving in small kitchens.

This galley kitchen is not spacious, yet the design uses every ounce of available space to make the most of the narrow layout. The open shelves and the checked flooring on the narrow walkway allow the small galley kitchen to create an outsized impression.

Floor-to-Ceiling Storage

A wall of cabinetsA wall of cabinets
Lori Caldwell Design

This galley kitchen from Lori Caldwell Designs features two rows of stunning wood faced cabinets. Both sides of the cabinetry reach to the ceiling. One side has a sink, but one wall consists primarily of floor-to-ceiling cabinets. This design decision gives this small kitchen ample storage. Notice the floor to ceiling window at the end of the room. Large windows that overlook a yard or garden can make a galley kitchen feel so much more open.

Wallpaper to Expand Visual Interest

Teal wallpaper at the end of a kitchen.Teal wallpaper at the end of a kitchen.

This kitchen galley design features an accent wall with geometric wallpaper. The rest of the kitchen space is simple and clean, but the wall with the colorful pattern defines the whole area.

High storage

High storageHigh storage

Consider adding vertical storage if you can’t add additional storage in your small kitchen because of the width. This owner has positioned the open shelving above the fridge. The shelves are wide and reach the ceiling This moves the focus away from the small space and adds extra storage at the same time.

A colorful rug

Add a rug to a galley kitchen for a pop of color.Add a rug to a galley kitchen for a pop of color.

Consider this galley kitchen with a colorful Turkish runner. The rug adds more than just color to the otherwise neutral kitchen; it also provides a warm texture that elevates the style of the entire room.

Arched opening

adding personal touches in a galley kitchen.adding personal touches in a galley kitchen.

This modern galley kitchen features an arched opening to create more visual space in the closed room. The stainless steel cabinets, open shelves, and colors keep the design light and bright.

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