Daveney. Uncategorized. May 10th , 2017.
A U-shaped kitchen, sometimes called a C-shaped kitchen, comprises workspace on three adjoining walls of cabinetry, with an open end for access. In a small U-shaped kitchen, the opposing runs effectively become a galley layout, but with one end closed off. This galley format works for larger kitchens, too, although if the opposing runs are set too far apart, this can reduce the kitchen’s efficiency.
So is a U-shaped layout the right choice for your kitchen – and how can you best make the most of it?
Know the pros and cons of a U-shaped kitchen
Generally, the pros of U-shaped kitchens include the fact that they are excellent for storage, offer lots of work surface and, having only one entrance, are very safe, because of a lack of through traffic. This last advantage, however, also means within small U-shaped layouts there will only be space for one user at a time.
It’s also worth noting they are typically more expensive than other layouts, such as galley or L-shaped designs, because more cabinetry and worktop is required for the additional run of units.
Plan your U-shaped layout
The cabinetry runs on a U-shaped kitchen can be roughly the same or vary in length; in both cases, there’s an opportunity for flexibility within the design. Where all walls are the same length (for example, 3m), your planning start point usually depends on where the windows are located.
If one of the walls has a window, this would usually be the run we’d suggest for your kitchen sink. Not only will a window offer natural light for washing-up, there’s also the romantic notion of gazing outwards while doing the dishes. This, of course, very much depends on your view.
Position the sink and hob
If the sink sits in the middle run of a U-shaped layout, then your hob can be located on either of the other runs. However, if these two runs vary in length, the longer wall would usually house the hob, to allow more space on either side of it.
Meanwhile, if the sink is on a run other than the middle one (as pictured here), we would try to ensure a continuous flow of worktop from this point onwards, and around the ‘U’. So if you were having tall units, this would mean locating them together at the furthest end of the cabinetry run (as in this kitchen). Typically, this would place them opposite but along from the sink. This deliberate spacing ensures the worktop is not interrupted, and the kitchen’s functionality (in the form of a galley layout) is unhampered.
U-shaped kitchens offer the opportunity for symmetry within a design, so long as it doesn’t compromise the kitchen’s usability. While it’s not essential, many homeowners appreciate symmetry for the resulting clean and balanced aesthetic.
We would usually choose an appliance, such as an oven or oversized extractor, for the midpoint of the central run, as in this kitchen. We’d then work outwards, implementing furniture and appliances accordingly.
Of course, you can deviate from a symmetrical layout, either because you think it will look better in your space, or because the room’s structure dictates it – for example, if a doorway or window interrupts one of the runs.
Hide less-than-lovely features
U-shaped kitchens can also be designed so they ‘hide’ less attractive kitchen components and/or appliances behind taller units. For example, sinks, draining boards and microwaves (freestanding or otherwise) are not always a kitchen’s best features, but through foresight in planning they can be obscured from sight. This is particularly beneficial in an open-plan kitchen layout.
For example, in this kitchen, if you were seated at the dining table and facing the kitchen, the built-in microwave would be hidden from view by the protruding tall unit next to it.
Maximise an efficient work space
Whatever the size, a well-planned U-shaped kitchen design will ensure only a limited number of steps are required between different units and appliances. This makes the kitchen a much safer place during cooking, especially when other people are present.
In addition, generous worktop and storage capacity puts everything you need within easy reach, and provides all kitchenware with its own storage place. This means the kitchen can be effortlessly tidied after use, and it’s easy to maintain a clean and uncluttered look.
This is true even in really small U-shaped kitchens, such as this one, which is just 2620mm x 2040mm, including a 700mm gap between opposing runs. Space might be limited, yet there’s still a generous number of cupboards included within the design.
Incorporate corner storage
As mentioned, one of the great advantages of a U-shaped kitchen is that having three runs of cabinetry provides ample opportunity for storage. Having said that, the two corners in a typical U-shaped kitchen take up a significant amount of the available floor space.
So to achieve an ergonomically sound design, it’s important to select a specialist kitchen corner solution, such as a carousel or a LeMans corner unit (seen here, and so called because of its shape and curves, which are reminiscent of the famous Le Mans race track). These make use of the otherwise dead space within corner base units. Without these corner options, you would lose this space, or else the back of your cupboards would be extremely difficult to access.
Slot in a peninsula
Small U-shaped kitchens can be restricting, particularly if there’s no space for a table and chairs. But sometimes it’s possible to arrange the U shape so that one of the legs extends into open space (even if this means restructuring to take down a wall).
While you would lose the wall cabinets above this run, the base units could then form a highly efficient kitchen peninsula. You could add stools to make the space instantly more sociable, and it would offer a useful platform for dining, working or socialising. Alternatively, you might site either your sink or hob in this area.
Peninsulas can be great for open-plan spaces and also offer a physical separation between the kitchen and living room, which a lot of homeowners desire. While a peninsula is usually located on an end run, it’s also possible to have seating across the back of the middle run, as pictured here.
Make room for an island
Typically, you need a much larger space if you want to include an island within this layout. As a rule of thumb, U-shapes with islands generally require a minimum of a 1m walkway on all sides between the cabinetry and the island’s worktop. As the units around the island are 650mm deep, and given that islands are normally between 1m and 1.2m deep, this means the room would need to be at least 4.3m wide. We tend to recommend a minimum width of 4.6m for this layout to allow optimum clearance around the island.
Comparatively, for an open-plan space, the depth would need to be a minimum of 2.6m. In this instance you would have one long back wall with two short wings forming the ‘U’ and the kitchen island in-between. Usually, one of the shorter wings would contain the tall housing, and the long back wall would house either the sink or hob, with the alternative on the island.
Depending on the location of windows, the shorter run of units on the other side often provides additional worktop space for small appliances, such as toasters, blenders and coffee machines.
Get expert advice on choosing the perfect island to fit your kitchen
Some customers request curves rather than square edges for their kitchen’s internal corners. Curved corners are effective in creating a stylish, flowing design and great for softening a kitchen’s look – but there are a few drawbacks to this, mainly a reduction in storage space.
Most curved units don’t continue fully into a kitchen’s corners and consequently reduce access and use of this space. This may not be a problem in larger U-shaped kitchens, but it’s certainly worth noting when planning for smaller spaces.
Tailor your shape to your space
One of the key things to remember about U-shaped kitchens (apart from their generous worktop and storage space) is that there’s a lot of room for flexibility when designing them. From small to large spaces, or U-shapes with an island or peninsula, there are many variations and possibilities for what you can achieve with this layout. This means you can most likely design a U-shaped kitchen that’s right for you and right for the space you have available.
Any content, trademark/s, or other material that might be found on this site that is not this site property remains the copyright of its respective owner/s. In no way does Kitchen Mania claim ownership or responsibility for such items, and you should seek legal consent for any use of such materials from its owner.