Galley Kitchens: Unique, Compact, and Efficient

The term “galley kitchen” originally referred to kitchens aboard ships, trains, and planes-compact spaces with tight footprints allowing for maximum efficiency.

Home kitchens can also be galley-like, typically featuring two lines of parallel cabinets separated by a central aisle and, occasionally, a U-shaped return at one end. Galley layouts promote ideal work conditions, requiring minimal movement while working. Though efficient, galley kitchens are tight on space and do best with a single chef at the helm.

Slideshow: 11 Gorgeous Galley Kitchens

Verticality is crucial to the design of successful galley kitchens, and ceiling-hung cabinets, hanging pot racks, and open dish racks are common. Kitchen tools themselves are often wall-hung, and things like magnetic knife racks are helpful tools.

Frankfurt Kitchen Competition. Photo: Interior Design

In 2010, an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NY displayed a sample of the first mass-produced galley kitchen, designed by Margarete Schötte-Lihotzky back in 1926.

Called the “Frankfurt kitchen” (roughly 10,000 such units were installed in that city at the time), this meticulously planned space included built-in bins for frequently used items like flour, sugar, and rice, as well as a sub-counter bin for collecting scraps during cooking.

Slideshow: 11 Gorgeous Galley Kitchens

Trends towards open floor plans-with combined kitchen, living room, and dining areas-have made galley kitchens less popular in new construction, but for homeowners with an eye towards efficiency or restoration, they can be a great option.

For more on kitchen design, consider:

12 Outstanding Kitchen Island Options
Kitchen Layouts: 4 “Space-Smart” Plans
Award-Winning Budget-Friendly Kitchen Makeover