A u-shaped kitchen layout is the perfect option for busy households. A u-shaped kitchen design is usually made up of three walls that are fitted with cabinetry, benchtops and appliances that are all joined to resemble the ‘U’ shape. The u-shaped kitchen is versatile as those three walls can feature floor to ceiling cabinetry and appliances, or you can leave one side without cabinetry to create a breakfast bar or open up into a larger, open space, such as the dining area.
A u-shaped kitchen design idea is very functional and ensures the master chef in the house has all ingredients and appliances within reach at all times without having to traverse a long island or galley. However, due to the u-shaped nature of the kitchen it is important to measure twice and cut once, as an ill-fitted cabinet or too-big appliance can result in doors that don’t open or a kitchen that can only use a certain feature at any given time.
“U shaped kitchens are an excellent layout choice for larger families as there is more space to freely move, prepare meals and gather. The layout of a U shape kitchen organically promotes a free-flowing preparation area and if space permits, there are three separate areas within the kitchen including the island bench, side benches and cooking area,” says Daniel Bertuccio, Marketing Manager Eurolinx. “This style of layout also allows the kitchen to flow with the living and dining spaces due to its peninsula island bench. Alternatively, this bench can be used as an alternative dining space to bring the family together.”
"The limitations on appliances in u-shaped kitchen designs only come into effect with the size of the space available. All U shaped kitchens have a back wall and a peninsula island bench, so here is the opportunity to be creative," says Daniel. "There are no rules on where your appliances or utilities need to be. If you are strapped for a choice and have a smaller kitchen, try a double oven or built in oven and a cooktop as these fit into a smaller space. If you are have the freedom to put in larger appliances, a statement piece like a freestanding cooker can look incredible."
According to the appliance experts at The Good Guys, a u-shaped kitchen design typically features three walls with storage and bench space and doesn’t allow for traffic to flow into other rooms. The Good Guys also point out that if floor space allows, a u-shaped kitchen can be wide enough to also install an island, but cabinet and appliance door openings need to be planned carefully so all can be opened without hitting another. Consider using storage devices such as carousels in corner storage to make the most of the space.
The Houzz 2018 Kitchen Trends Study indicates that of those homeowners who changed the layout of their kitchen when they renovated, U-shaped tied with L-shaped kitchen layouts at 27%, making it one of the most popular choices for kitchen design ideas.
How good design can add value to your home
In addition to being functional and popular, when a u-shaped kitchen layout is designed well it can add value to your home.
“I was looking at buying a block of units built back in the 1950’s recently and I remember thinking to myself how little value was placed on good design back then, in comparison to today’s design ethos,” says Matthew Bateman, co-founder of the Property Mentors. “Things such as natural light, ventilation, airflow, storage, a sense of space, workflow and connectivity were not really at the top of design considerations back then. But times have certainly changed and so has the demographic. Baby-boomers are downsizing and more people are shifting into apartment living means that good design is not only essential for resident comfort, but has the ability add significant value to your property.”
“Not only can good kitchen design make your home more appealing for future property owners, but it may also help to attract tenants,” says Matt. “Open-plan living, stone benchtops, quality splashbacks, modern tapware, a butlers’ pantry, or brand name appliances are just some of features that most buyers (and tenants) are both looking for and often willing to pay a premium for. However, U-Shaped kitchens appear to be more commonly found in older, period-style homes than in the modern homes of today. These days more people seem to favour an open-plan living concept.”
What are the pros and cons of a U-shaped kitchen design?
Cherie Barber, owner of Renovating For Profit, says that there are pros and cons to u-shaped kitchen layouts, but there are also some aspects of the u-shaped kitchen design idea that she particularly likes.
“I personally like that every inch of space is utilised, so make ample use of base pot drawers, clever systems for those pesky base corner cupboards, and storage cupboards for appliances,” says Cherie. “For a laminate u-kitchen idea, it means you can buy the longest slab of laminate benchtop (3.6 metres in length), so you don’t have multiple joins. You can also make a real feature of the splash-back, as there’ll be plenty of it. It’s also very easy to create a clutter-free kitchen with all that storage.”
- Lots of bench space on three sides and loads of storage.
- Very efficient floorplan, so you can easily configure the working triangle.
- Can add an island bench easily, so great for an open plan space.
- It’s probably one of the best layouts for home entertainers, as there’s “work stations” on all three sides.
- Lots of corners, so you have to be particularly efficient with your base corner cupboards.
- It can make for a cramped layout in a smaller space, such as where the passage space is too narrow.
What are the standard measurements for a U-shaped kitchen layout?
Cherie Barber says that your ‘working triangle’ (the wet area, fridge and cooking area) should ideally be between 1.2 metres and 2.7 metres apart to allow for plenty of circulation space. A standard bench height is around 900mm high.
12 U Shaped Kitchen Designs, Ideas & Layouts
1. Small u-shaped kitchen layout
Although small in size this u-shaped kitchen layout has everything you need with sink, cooktop, bench space and ample storage. What makes this design particularly unique is it’s entirely open concept, with other appliances placed on the wall behind the u-shaped island.
2. U-shaped kitchen with island
If you have plenty of space to plot your u-shaped kitchen layout then an island can be easily integrated right into the centre of the space. This can maximise your workspace and add extra storage for those odd bits and pieces.
3. Minimalist u-shaped kitchen with breakfast bar
For those that love the minimalist ways of the 90’s then this kitchen is for you. A colour palette of whites, creams and beiges make this space very tonal, while the black pendant lights and space-age stools add edge to the space. The breakfast bar incorporate into the u-shaped layout is perfect for Sunday mornings.
4. Modern u-shaped kitchen design idea
Timber cabinetry, neutral bench tops and chrome handles and tapware make this narrow u-shaped kitchen look ultra modern, without compromising on warmth.
5. All-white u-shaped kitchen
This all-white u-shaped kitchen is small and compact but proves that a u-shaped kitchen layout can be worked into almost any space. Dark timber laminate benchtops, chrome handles and white cabinetry make for a simple and sleek kitchen that caters to family life.
6. The country kitchen
A u-shaped kitchen can be used in any home regardless of style or theme. Here, the concept plays well into the country kitchen layout with timber cabinetry and a cream palette. The island doubles as a breakfast bar and the country theme is played up by the rustic steel stools.
7. Contemporary u-shaped kitchen design
Sleek, chic and linear, this contemporary u-shaped kitchen design uses timber, stainless steel and black tiles and benchtops to create a space that feels luxurious and high-tech.
8. Space-saving u-shaped kitchen
If your home lacks space but you love the idea of a u-shaped kitchen then this narrow interpretation might be for you. Make the space multifunctional by building a breakfast bar or study space into the end of the bench space.
9. Open u-shaped kitchen
Not every u-shaped kitchen design needs floor to ceiling cabinetry and appliances on all three sides. This kitchen is the perfect example of a u-shaped kitchen that works well within an open space, as upper cabinetry and shelving is worked into one wall, while the remaining two sides are left as open benchtops and lower storage.
10. Sleek u-shaped kitchen
For an ultra-modern space age kitchen that ticks all the minimalist and functionality boxes, keep all cabinetry and benchtops white and all appliances in stainless steel. The overhead extractor plays up the space-age feel.
11. Typical u-shaped kitchen
A u-shaped kitchen is great for families as it allows plenty of workspace, storage and keeps everything within arms’ reach. If you have children, incorporate a breakfast bar seating arrangement into the benchtop so you can oversee homework from the kitchen.
12. The conversation-starting kitchen design idea
If you like your kitchen to make a statement then clashing colour and pattern might be for you. This kitchen uses a graphic print on the floor, a faux-timber finish of the wall with appliances and storage, and a wallpaper in forest print as the splash-back, which extends further into the room. Keep cabinetry white and simple so as not to visually overload the space.