How to Make the Most of a Galley Kitchen

Small spaces require creative design and storage solutions.

In apartments and small houses, it’s no secret space is a commodity. Home developers use tons of creative layouts to maximize floor and storage space. One such layout has been gaining popularity in recent years: the galley kitchen.

If you’ve recently moved into a space with a galley kitchen, consider this your guide to making the most of it. From organizing cabinets to crafting an uncluttered aesthetic, these tips will ensure your small space is functional and gorgeous.

An Introduction to the Galley Kitchen

A “galley” denotes the kitchen space on a ship or aircraft, where this space-saving kitchen design originated.

In an interview with House BeautifulAbbe Fenimore, founder and principal designer of Studio Ten 25, says, “Galley kitchens are longer, narrow spaces that provide upper and lower cabinets in a walkway-type layout.” Basically, all kitchen appliances, counters and cabinets are separated into two parallel rows, forming an aisle.

How to Design a Galley Kitchen

Select your materials and appliances carefully.

“[T]he most important thing to remember with a galley kitchen is scale,” says Laura Lubin, founder and principal designer of Ellerslie Interiors, in an interview with Southern Living. “You can minimize counter overhangs, thickness of material and appliance layout to make it far more functional.”

When selecting appliances, opt for small varieties with panel fronts. A slimmer dishwasher can save precious storage space, and countertop appliances that can be stowed away will reduce visual clutter.

How to Organize a Galley Kitchen

In any small space, organization is key. To make the most of the galley kitchen’s tiny footprint, opt for as much vertical storage as possible, utilizing cabinets above and below the countertops.

Open shelving units can also visually expand a space. However, make sure they’re used sparingly and kept uncluttered so they don’t accidentally make the space look more hectic.

And stow items intentionally and efficiently — say, organizing your kitchen units into work and storage sides. “I would keep most — if not all — appliances on one wall, and a large amount of storage and workable space on the other,” Lubin says.

How to Decorate a Galley Kitchen

Because galley kitchens have such small footprints, you’ll need to decorate creatively. Lubin says her company likes to “use antique mirror cabinet fronts and lighter cabinetry color to make the space feels larger.”

Roger Higgins, a designer at R. Higgins Interiors, tells House Beautiful using “a mirrored backsplash behind areas except the cooktop” visually opens up the space. Higgins adds painting cabinets and walls the same color as the walls will maximize your space.

To bring in more depth and personality, you can always decorate the ceiling! Sandra Drews Lucas, an interior designer and founding partner of Lucas/Eilers Design Associates, tells Southern Living: “Wallpapering the ceiling can draw your eye away from the narrowness of the galley.”

All these changes can bring tons of visual interest and character to a galley kitchen, while still keeping it uncluttered and sleek.