Kitchen Cabinets Layout: A Guide to a Successful Project

Kevin Dean | Kitchen Designer | Dean Cabinetry

By Kevin Dean

In the kitchen remodel process, the layout comes before the design. The layout is a “bird’s-eye view” of what the kitchen will look like. This involves “how much” cabinetry your kitchen will have, and which walls in the kitchen will get cabinetry. The layout will also identify if there will be an island or a peninsula, cabinetry for a coffee/beverage area, and any pantry cabinetry. If any walls, door openings, or windows are changing that will be shown on the kitchen layout.

kitchen layout ideas

Factors to Consider Before Planning a Kitchen Cabinet Layout

Before you generate your new kitchen layout ideas, you will want to consider your lifestyle, budget, existing kitchen layout and size, appliances, and fixtures. Some clients find it helpful to first sketch their current kitchen cabinet layout and then sketch the layout they are envisioning. In our 6-step process, the layout is crucial to our second step, the budget phase. Because the layout determines how much cabinetry you will need along which walls, the addition of an island or peninsula, and other cabinetry like a beverage area or in a pantry, the layout will determine the accurate budget for the kitchen project.

Think about how you currently use your kitchen, and how your space might work better with your lifestyle. Would a larger kitchen island serve as a family gathering spot or dining area? Should your layout incorporate space for a second oven or a work space for all the baking you do? Would a beverage area with a second sink make entertaining easier?

Various Kitchen Layout Ideas

We’ve seen a variety of kitchen cabinet layouts over the past 25+ years we’ve been in business. The most common layouts include L-shaped, Island Centered, Galley, Peninsula, and U-shaped.

L shaped kitchen

L-Shaped Kitchen Layout

L-Shaped kitchen layouts are one of the most common. This layout features countertops and cabinets arranged in an L-shape, maximizing your corner space and providing an ample work area. It offers good traffic flow and is suitable for both small and large kitchens.

u shaped kitchen

U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

The U-Shaped kitchen layout consists of cabinets and appliances arranged in a U-shape, surrounding the cook on three sides. It provides plenty of storage and counter space. This shape may overwhelm smaller spaces but is ideal for larger kitchens or those that require multiple workstations.

island centered kitchen layout

Island Centered Layout

The island centered kitchen layout incorporates a freestanding or built-in island in the center of the kitchen. It adds extra workspace and storage, and often serves as a dining or social gathering area for the family! It works well in open-concept spaces or larger kitchens. The vast majority of kitchen designs we work on include an island!

Peninsula Kitchen Layout

Similar to the island layout, the peninsula kitchen layout involves extending a countertop and cabinetry from a wall, creating an additional workspace, storage area, or seating area. It is a great option for those who want the benefits of an island, but have kitchens with limited space. The Peninsula layout is also great for defining separate zones in an open floor plan, separating the kitchen workspace from a lounging space.

Galley Kitchen Layout

The galley kitchen layout has two parallel work areas with countertops and cabinetry, and a corridor in between. This design makes efficient use of the space and creates a streamlined workflow, making it popular for smaller kitchens.

Steps for Laying Out Your New Kitchen

Kitchen Measurements

The first step in laying out your kitchen is measuring your space. You will want to work with a contractor if you are making any changes to your layout such as removing walls, changing doors or windows, or changing any opening as the measurements for your space could change. A contractor will measure your kitchen and confirm whether desired changes to any doors, walls, windows, ceilings, structural beams, plumbing, electrical, and flooring are possible. Once you’ve secured your contractor, the Dean Cabinetry team will create your layout. If you choose to not work with a contractor, we will create a layout based solely on your existing measurements.

Kitchen Triangle

Once measurements are solidified, you will want to consider the placement of different kitchen elements and how it best suits your lifestyle. The “kitchen triangle” is commonly used to create a functional kitchen layout. It describes the relationship of the areas in your kitchen that will receive the majority of your focused attention: the sink, the stove, and the refrigerator. Each length of the triangle represents a flow of traffic from one appliance to another. Ideally, the length of each leg of the triangle is 4-9 feet long, and the sum distance 13-26 feet. An ideal flow may involve an individual rotating between cooking at the stove, prepping food at the sink and the surrounding counter space, and gathering supplies from the refrigerator. This style is meant to make preparation and cooking easier. It helps to minimize the walking distance between the essential appliances.

Although standard in kitchen design, the “kitchen triangle” is simply a guideline and not a strict rule. Some of the most important considerations to take into account are your lifestyle and functional needs. For example, those who like to purchase prepared foods may want their refrigeration near the range and microwave. They may not necessarily need the sink and preparation areas as close to the fridge as the cooking appliances.

Work Zones

Alternatively to the kitchen triangle, work zones are another way of planning your layout that involves grouping together cabinets and appliances that will be used for similar purposes. For example, a preparation zone may include drawers for knives, peelers, other cutlery, a large counter space, and trash. The cleaning/dish zone may include the sink, dishwasher, and cabinet storage for plates, bowls, cups, mugs, silverware, and other eating utensils. This way, you can easily transition from rinsing to putting items in the dishwasher to putting them away for future usage.

Another zone could include a wet bar and storage space for entertainment purposes. This could include items such as paper plates, plastic cups, alcohol, mixing tools, and other party supplies. This idea is great for people who have certain specialties over others. For example, someone who prefers baking over cooking might put a larger focus on the area for holding their baking sheets, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing utensils. They would design these cabinets to be located near the oven.

Choosing Appliances

Another step in laying out your kitchen is choosing your appliances. You will want to decide on appliances early in the process, so their placement and dimensions can be accurately incorporated into your layout. For example, if you are upgrading your fridge, its dimensions may change from your current fridge, leaving more or less room for adjacent cabinetry.

Whether you have a U-shaped kitchen, a Galley Kitchen, or anything in between, the experienced team at Dean Cabinetry can work through every consideration with you to create the perfect layout for your budget and lifestyle.

Choosing the Right Cabinet Style and Material

Once your layout is solidified in the Budget phase, your Dean Cabinetry kitchen designer will work with you to choose the right cabinet style and materials for your budget.

Cabinetry construction can be framed or frameless. Framed cabinets have a frame around the front edges of the cabinet box, providing extra support and stability. The doors are attached to the frame, and hinges are visible when the cabinet is closed. Frameless cabinets lack a face frame and have doors directly attached to the cabinet box. They offer a more contemporary and streamlined appearance with full access to the interior space.

Cabinetry styles include shaker, flat panel, raised panel, and glass front. Shaker cabinets have a clean, minimalist design characterized by a five-piece door with a recessed center panel. They are versatile and can suit various kitchen styles, from traditional to contemporary. Flat Panel, or slab cabinets, have a simple and sleek appearance. The door is a single, flat panel without any ornate details, making them a popular choice for modern and minimalist kitchens. Raised panel cabinets feature a center panel that is raised and surrounded by a frame. This style adds depth and dimension to the cabinet doors, lending a more traditional or formal look to the kitchen. Glass front cabinets have doors with glass panels, allowing for a display of decorative items or dishware. They add an element of elegance and openness to the kitchen.

Popular materials for doors and drawer fronts include solid hardwood, which is very durable to withstand a lifetime of use. There are several species with a variety of aesthetics. Hardwood species include red oak, maple, cherry, walnut, quarter sawn white oak, alder, chestnut, among others. Solid hardwood lends itself to stain finishes to let the wood grain shine through. Painted cabinetry has more flexibility with materials, such as plywood panel, MDF panel, and decorative laminate veneer.

kitchen storage

Cabinet Installation: Tips and Best Practices

We will schedule your cabinet installation 4–5 weeks out. The Dean Cabinetry team will reach out to you to confirm the date and details. There are a few things to keep in mind prior to installation.

First, the installation should take place before the final coat on the floors and the final coat of paint. We do our best to avoid scuff marks made in the drywall and paint, but they are often unavoidable and should be expected during installation. Our installers will do their best to protect your finished floors with moving blankets during installation. Scratches to the floor are rare but may be unavoidable.

Second, appliances cannot be in the space during your cabinet installation. Appliances take up a significant amount of space and can impede the cabinetry installation process or get damaged.

Third, you will want to have your cabinetry hardware, such as knobs and pulls onsite. Cabinet hardware is the finishing touch of your cabinetry.

Lastly, you must be on-site during the later part of your cabinetry installation to choose the locations for your hardware and review each cabinet with your installer, and create a Punch List. The Punch List is for defective or incomplete items that we will return to fix.

Cabinet Accessories and Hardware

The final piece of your kitchen cabinetry is the hardware, or the knobs and pulls on your cabinets. While style choices like cabinet hardware don’t need to be solidified in your kitchen layout, it is an important stylistic element that ties your kitchen together. The goal of cabinet hardware is to coordinate with your kitchen, be comfortable to use, and enhance the overall look you are trying to create. The function of cabinet hardware involves how well you are able to “grab” and open one of your cabinet doors or drawers using the hardware you’ve chosen. You will want to consider knob vs. pull, the size of the knob and/or pull, one or two pieces on a drawer, the location of where the hardware is installed, and comfort, including size and shape.

kitchen layout

Choosing the Right Professional for Your Kitchen Cabinet Project

Whether you are looking for kitchen layout ideas or have a complete vision in your mind, the team at Dean Cabinetry has the expertise to guide you smoothly through your kitchen project. We have worked with every kitchen layout imaginable, L-shaped, U-shaped, island-centered, peninsula, galley, and a variety of unique configurations. Our goal is to create your dream kitchen within your budget while guiding you seamlessly throughout the process. We can’t wait to talk to you about your kitchen ideas!


Ready to Start Your Kitchen Renovation?