Kitchens are still the “heart” of many homes, but today that can be in a literal sense as well as an emotional characterization. A great kitchen can be anything from an expansive family hub to a sleek and efficient closet-size nook. Today’s kitchens come in all sizes, shapes and layouts, with design features that rely less on the concept of “work triangle” than on chic finishes and work-saving features.

Today’s kitchen is anything but formulaic and predictable. Individuality reigns!

Are you considering remodeling the kitchen in your suburban Chicago home? In order to think about the possibilities, we have pulled together a list of popular functional layouts that are adaptable for small, mid-size and large spaces. The final plan for your renovation will hinge on your personal preferences, your home’s architecture, your individual lifestyle and your budget. Here are some options to consider:

Efficient Small Kitchens

There are any number of ways to make a small kitchen work in your favor. If your current kitchen has four walls, why not eliminate one or more doorways, add a pass-through opening to either the dining room or living space, create a peninsula or remove one or more walls completely.

Think about the pros and cons of these popular layouts:


Galley-Style Kitchen

Sometimes known as corridor style, this simple kitchen layout is best for a single cook because appliances are commonly lined up along one wall, with a sink, dishwasher and perhaps a window on the opposite side of the corridor. While it is efficient and workable, the space might not be wide enough for two people to pass comfortably, particularly if the refrigerator or oven doors are open. Sometimes, a breakfast room is located at one end of the corridor.

One Wall

Simple single-wall kitchens are space-savers in smaller homes, condos and apartments. All the cabinets and appliances are lined up against a single wall. Frequently, an “island” counter or dining table is placed in front of the kitchen wall and serves to divide the workspace from living space beyond. 

Open Kitchen

A variation of the one-wall or Pullman layout is the modern open kitchen. Common in vacation cottages and remodeled lofts, it makes no apologies for its working character, and could be a great solution for a guest house or game room. Done in stainless and sleek finishes, it can be starkly contemporary, but in natural pale wood and beach colors, it would project a completely different vibe. 


The two-wall kitchen is a standard layout for small to mid-size kitchens. Boasting a minimal footprint, it packs a lot of function into space that requires only about 8-10 feet in either direction to incorporate all necessary appliances and a lot of storage. The addition of a table and chairs would add convenient additional work surface as well as dining options, whereas a small, movable cart or freestanding island are also possible.


Peninsula Kitchen Layout

As a variation of the popular kitchen island, a peninsula adds work surface and storage space to many of the above layouts; it opens up a small, enclosed kitchen and improves traffic flow. Simply remove a portion of wall and upper cabinets, leaving the base cabinet intact. Occasionally, a kitchen incorporates a pair of peninsulas at either end of a “C-shaped” space. One separates the kitchen from living space, while the other incorporates a dining nook. Sometimes, this plan includes another wall of storage on the fourth side of the kitchen. Can you visualize it?

“Disappearing” Kitchens

While it is not common to hide appliances completely, sliding or folding doors might be appropriate for “mother-in-law spaces, a basement game room, or even for a small snack kitchen in a children’s wing. It’s not “in your face,” but always accessible. 

Appealing Large Kitchens

Horseshoe Kitchens

There are many variations of horseshoe kitchens, and some of the most unique actually have rounded or angled walls rather than 90-degree corners. Let a curved end project into adjacent living space, and surround it with a row of barstools. Dramatic kitchens like this are frequently the domain of families with serious chefs, but there’s no reason they wouldn’t work as well for large family gatherings and serious party hosts with or without caterers on call!

C-Shape or U-Shape

Three-wall kitchens are described variously as the letter “C” or “U,” depending on which legs are long or short. Among the most popular of floor plans for large kitchens, they are particularly well-suited for adding an island (or two) and often become the focal point of expansive rooms that incorporate informal dining and seating areas as well.


Island Kitchen Layout

In recent years, the trend has been toward islands in every kitchen.  Islands can be minimal in size just to add a few square feet of needed counter space in the open space of an L-shape kitchen or they can be large enough to use for the primary sink and dishwasher or a downdraft cooktop.  Often islands are designed with multiple heights, attached snack bar seating, lower tables and baking centers. They can also replace the confinement of the peninsula kitchen by improving traffic flow while allowing for two cooks to work freely.  

Double Island

Double Island Kitchen Layout

If one is good, two are better, right? Well, not necessarily. But in some truly large kitchens or for specialized needs (think an indoor grill or a dedicated baking center) it might make sense to have not one, but two islands. When planning your kitchen, though, the advice of a certified kitchen designer can be invaluable to prevent the mistakes that add unnecessary steps or don’t provide the proper amount of storage.

Let The Kitchen Master Help with Your Kitchen Remodel

Our creative team stands ready to help you plan a great kitchen for your Chicagoland home. View the possibilities at our 4,000 square-foot showroom in Naperville. Why not contact us now to schedule a consultation?

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