What is a Galley Kitchen?

Malcolm Tatum

Galley kitchens are small compact cooking areas that feature work spaces and appliances placed along the two long walls of the room with a center aisle that allows an individual to move easily from one side to the other. A galley kitchen is often included in apartments and small homes as a means of providing a fully workable kitchen without utilizing a great deal of space. Most galley kitchen designs call for the inclusion of enclosed appliances that fit in snugly with the surrounding cabinetry.

Appliances in a galley kitchen are often built in.
Appliances in a galley kitchen are often built in.

There are several advantages to a galley kitchen. Because of the compact nature of the overall design, it is possible to prepare food without walking a great deal. All the appliances, storage space and countertop work space are within a few steps of each other. Kitchens of this type can be ideal for anyone who has difficulty walking or who simply prefers to have everything within easy reach while preparing meals.

Gallery kitchens have appliances in close proximity to each other.
Gallery kitchens have appliances in close proximity to each other.

Another benefit to the galley kitchen is the amount of storage and countertop space found in most designs. Unlike an efficiency kitchen, room for work and storage in a galley-style kitchen can be comparable to that of a full sized kitchen. At the same time, the compact space makes it much easier to clean the kitchen area in much less time. There are even some designs that make it possible to include a small pantry at one of the ends of the space, which makes the kitchen even more efficient and user-friendly.

One of the drawbacks of the small galley kitchen is that it is difficult for more than one person to occupy the space at any given time. There is no room for a table and chairs in the space, and the center aisle may or may not be wide enough for two people to pass each other comfortably. For cooks who like to have others nearby to chat while preparing food, a kitchen of this type can be a lonely place.

While galley kitchens can be found in some houses, they are more likely to be found in apartments and in small office suites. The compact nature of the kitchen space makes it possible to have a fully functioning kitchen without taking up a lot of room, allowing designers to use the extra space for other functions. These could include adding another office or making the living area or a bedroom a little larger than it would have been otherwise.

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Discussion Comments


@rugbygirl - I know they can be a challenge, but I actually like galley kitchens. There are nice galley kitchen ideas out there to make the space really efficient. It's different in an apartment that you rent, of course, but if you own, there are lots of possibilities. I got shelves, spinners, and dividers to make the cabinets more efficient, an over-the-range microwave to keep that off the counter, and an undermounted radio to make the space more pleasant.


For me, I knew I had arrived when I stopped living in places with galley kitchens! (My aunt had one of these her whole life and called it her "one-butt" kitchen.) Maybe there are better ones out there, but in my galley kitchens, cabinets and counters were always in short supply.

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