Small galley kitchen ideas

A galley kitchen layout is where there are two parallel runs of kitchen units and appliances, with often a narrow space in between. Named after the compact galley in ships, the galley kitchen layout is often popular with chefs as it's easy to work in the kitchen with everything in close proximity, making it far more efficient.

The best thing about a galley kitchen is that everything is in one straight line, which makes it a very practical and functional space for food prep and cooking. To make sure your galley kitchen is practical, you need to plan exactly what you need in your kitchen and how to streamline it as best possible. 

If you have a galley kitchen and have no opportunity to change the size, here are our small galley kitchen ideas to help transform it into a stunning and practical kitchen!


Have plenty of open shelving

To avoid the kitchen from feeling even narrower, keep wall cupboards to a minimum if you can. Open shelving will expand the space and make the room feel wider and with shelves being such a huge kitchen trend at the moment, your kitchen will look stylish too. You can store plates, mugs and crockery on your shelves for a casual artisan look and it's also easy to spot where everything is!

We love this classic shaker kitchen from Plain English and the simple chunky shelf is practical yet gives the feeling of more space around the sink area - you could have a second shelf here to create more storage space without imposing on the room. The balcony doors and the roof lantern add plenty of natural light too.

narrow galley kitchen ideas

Galley Kitchen by Plain English


Plan the layout of the appliances carefully

The most frustrating thing about a small galley kitchen is that it's often difficult for two people to stand back to back without bashing into each other. So make sure you spread out your appliances either on the same side of the galley kitchen or in the standard kitchen triangle. Think as practically as possible so that you can be standing next to each other at the sink, hob or dishwasher and not in each other's way!

This narrow galley kitchen area has the sink and hob side by side - perfect for food prep and cooking. The clever seating area at the end also makes this narrow kitchen sociable and relaxing, which is a great galley kitchen idea if you have the space at the end.

Suffolk kitchen by Neptune


Opt for minimalist cabinets and worktops

Handleless cabinets are more streamlined and give the feeling of space in a galley kitchen. It's also worth considering a reflective splashback such as mirror or stainless steel to bounce the light around and make the narrow galley kitchen feel wider still. Plain and light worktops will also give the illusion of space as they brighten up the galley kitchen.

This small galley kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford is perfect with the handleless smooth units in white. Plenty of light also makes this space feel larger than it is. We also love how the sink runs seamlessly from the worktops, again giving the illusion of more space.

Handleless galley kitchen from John Lewis of Hungerford


Choose a light colour scheme

Light cabinets and surfaces will make the small galley kitchen feel wider whilst dark colours can make the kitchen feel busy and closed in. If you do want to add some colour in, do this by a feature wall or by introducing colour in the cabinets. But if you do want to use a bold colour, make sure you balance it off with plenty of white!

We adore this kitchen from @moochstyle on Instagram. The scheme is neutral with pops of grey and lots of greenery to keep it interesting!

Narrow galley kitchen from @moochstyle

Plan the lighting carefully

Clever lighting will make a huge difference and will make your galley kitchen feel wider than it is. Consider "layering" the lighting by adding plenty of spotlights, lighting under cabinets or pendants. 

Try not to block any of the windows with cabinets as you want to allow as much natural light to flood in.

We adore this urban galley kitchen by deVOL. The clever lighting divides the space into separate zones and minimal wall units makes the narrow galley kitchen feel wider than it is. The light colour of the walls and surfaces also add to the feeling of space with the stool at the end perfect for sitting and having a natter whilst cooking.

Shaker galley kitchen by deVOL


Keep it free of clutter

You need to ditch any pantry items, pots or crockery that your rarely use, only keeping what is essential. Not only will this give you more space in your narrow galley kitchen but it will also make your life simpler and less cluttered! Keep out condiments next to your oven that you use regularly such as oils or seasoning which will make your kitchen far more practical.

This galley kitchen by Bromilow Architects is perfect in every way. The tall cupboards to the right hand side keep all of the clutter stored out of the way, with the area around the sink completely clutter free. The floor to ceiling window and skylight also allows the light to flood in and the light colours add to the illusion of space. 

Galley Kitchen by Bromilow Architects

Consider a peninsula or breakfast bar

If you have the space for some seating, consider a peninsula at the end of the galley kitchen. Choose chairs that can be tucked away under the peninsula so that you can use the extra worktop space for food prep. This makes the galley kitchen sociable and functional too. This is the perfect design if you are one long narrow space, and the seating can be used to break up the galley kitchen and a dining area or family room.


The kitchen by Hux London is a beautifully streamlined galley kitchen, with one wall of tall units providing so much storage in this lovely space. The induction hob adds to the minimal kitchen too.

Kitchen by Hux London


Flow seamlessly into the garden

The kitchen below by The Kitchen Partners is a wider and longer than average galley kitchen, so storage here really isn't a problem. The large bright window to the right hand side brings in so much light, which bounces off of the mirror and gloss white units.

What's so clever here is that they have extended the kitchen area into the garden by using patio doors and a seating area which has been finished with similar flooring to the kitchen. This is a great way to make a galley kitchen feel larger than it is.

Kitchen by The Kitchen Partners

Use the space outside of the kitchen

Although a galley kitchen is not in an open plan space, think about how you can use the room leading into it.

We absolutely fell in love with this small galley kitchen below the moment we saw it - the style is so different to anything else and it has a real Mad Men look too it. It's such a clever use of space with the doorway opened up and the galley kitchen extending beyond the actual kitchen area. This is a perfect idea if you don't want a large open plan kitchen and like the galley kitchen efficiency.

There is so much light flooding into this small galley kitchen with the large window at the end and along the wall. There is also clever storage above the window, perfect if you have high ceilings too! As they are so high, they don't dominate this small galley kitchen.

Kitchen by eckford chong design. Image by Chris Snook.

Don't be afraid to go dark if the light is right

Although we say go for light units in a small space, you can break the rules if the lighting is right in your small galley kitchen. If you have plenty of light bouncing into your kitchen, then don't be afraid to choose dark units and flooring to give your galley kitchen the wow factor.

The dark painted blue units and rustic tiles are simply divine in this kitchen by The Shaker Kitchen Company. The white walls and beautiful natural light make this galley kitchen seem so light and airy. If you are going to go for dark, then make sure the there is light on the worktops which connects it to the ceiling. We love that it's a traditional style with chunky units. Again much of the wall space has been kept clear. It's also a great idea to have your fridge towards the far end of the kitchen, away from the walk way into the kitchen!

Kitchen by the Shaker Kitchen Company


Lay wooden flooring horizontally

The normal rule of thumb is to lay wooden flooring parallel to the longest wall. However, if you want to make a galley kitchen look wider, then consider laying the wooden flooring horizontally. 

We adore this pink kitchen from @studiodiy on Instagram. Another small galley kitchen which has used light so well - look at those fabulous sky lights which let the sun pour in. So pretty and something a bit different too!

Image source @studiodiy

Published: July 29, 2019

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