A staple of modern kitchen design, the U shaped kitchen is one of the most sought-after kitchen layouts due to its practicality, storage, countertop space, and overall aesthetically-pleasing design.
U shaped kitchens can really improve your cooking space, but they're not right for everyone's home. Here the Kitchen Infinity team will look at how this unique kitchen layout works, what the advantages are, and how it compares to other kitchen styles.
Let's get to it!
What is a U-shaped kitchen?
Put simply, a U-shaped kitchens are a kitchen layout where the counters flow around 3 walls uninterrupted to create a “U” shape in the room. This kitchen layout is thought to be the best kitchen layout by many designers because it maximizes storage space and countertop space.
Large U-shaped kitchens are also ideal for two chefs, so if you spend a lot of time preparing meals with other members of your household, a large U-shaped kitchen allows you both the space to work without getting in each other's way too much.
The working triangle
The working triangle (aka the “work triangle”) is the space between the sink, the stove, and the fridge. As these are the most frequented areas of a kitchen, your kitchen layout should prioritize putting these elements in a convenient location (ideally with around 4-5 feet of space between each element).
So to be clear, the working triangle is:
- The Refrigerator
- The Stove
- The Sink
A U-shaped kitchen gives you multiple options for your working triangle, as you have 3 walls and 2 corners to take advantage of. With all of this space, it's usually pretty easy to have a practical and convenient work triangle in a U-shaped kitchen.
The working triangle is the foundation of all good kitchen design ideas, helping to make a small space as practical and as convenient as possible. A U-shaped kitchen makes it easier to implement this foundation in the best way possible.
The secondary working triangle
The secondary working triangle is the fridge, your appliances, and your prep space. For example, you might have a dedicated counter space for your chopping board or butcher block, and then a dedicated space for appliances such as blenders, mixers, and food processors.
So to be clear, this secondary working triangle is:
- The Refrigerator
- Smaller Kitchen Appliances
- The Food Preparation Area
If you do a LOT of cooking, especially for complex meals, then you might want to consider the design of the “second” working triangle. This is reserved for more technical chefs, but with a U-shaped kitchen, you have more than enough space for both the main and secondary working triangle areas.
You might want to consider a U-shaped kitchen remodel to help give you more kitchen space for complex food preparation.
Different sizes and how they work
U-shaped kitchen design can be found in both large and small kitchens. Depending on the size of the room, the U-shaped design could be used slightly differently:
- Small U-Shaped Kitchens are normally just used for cooking. Depending on the size, they may be suited to 1 or 2 chefs at a time
- Large U-Shaped Kitchens are good for cooking, dining, and socializing. They're great for 2 chefs, and may include a kitchen island in the middle to help break up the room and serve as an eating area or hangout
The space you have available to you largely dictates how your U-shaped cooking area is going to function.
If you're working with a U-style kitchen, you need to think very carefully about lighting. If there is space for windows to let natural light in, then let as much natural light in as possible. A lot of U-style cooking spaces have a large window above the sink to let in natural light.
High-gloss paint on your kitchen cabinets also helps to reflect light!
After the natural light, you'll need several ceiling lights and under-cabinet lighting to illuminate all the counter tops. When you've got so much counterspace, it's important to find the best way to light it all, whether that's with natural light, artificial light, or a combination of the two.
What are the advantages of a U shaped kitchen?
A U-style kitchen has many advantages over other layouts.
The kitchen layout allows for:
- Maximizing storage – U-style spaces naturally have more storage solutions and cabinets than other layouts, making them convenient for those with A LOT of food and appliances to store
- Countertops – Unlike l shaped kitchen, this kitchen design gives you a lot of countertops to play with, especially if you put an island in the middle too. You have an open shelving which makes moving around easier.
- 1 or 2 chefs – most U-style kitchen layouts have plenty of room for 2 chefs to work without bumping into each other
- Versatility – when designing a U-style kitchen, you usually have multiple options for how to lay things out and where to place your “working triangle”
- Organized – with all of the room and cabinetry that a U-style kitchen can offer, it's much easier to have a kitchen that is organized into distinct work areas and storage spaces
There are many ways that a U-style kitchen could benefit your family, but these are just some ideas.
Tips for maximizing your U-style kitchen
If you want to get the most out of your new kitchen layout, try some of these tips:
- Add an island – if you've got the room, try adding an island into the middle of the room. It can serve as additional storage, a food prep area, or a dining area
- Stove placement – try to make sure that you've got counterspace on both sides of your stove, giving you a quick place to put hot pans when cooking
- Oven placement – if possible, put your oven at eye-level. This reduces bending and makes the area much safer for children
- Wall cabinets – make sure that your wall cabinets are placed at the correct height. Too low and they will block your view of the countertops, especially if you're tall
- Granite countertops – if you care for them properly, granite or marble countertops can last a lifetime, resist damage, and handle hot pans being placed directly onto them
What are the 6 types of kitchen layouts?
So, you've heard about U-shaped kitchens, but what are the other options?
- The One Wall Kitchen – sometimes called a “line kitchen”, the one wall kitchen takes up one side of the room, as the name implies. Often found in apartments and small spaces, the smaller One Wall Kitchens may be called “kitchenettes” sometimes.
- The Galley Kitchen – named after the kitchen layout commonly found on ships, the galley-style kitchen comprises of 2 walls running parallel to each other. This is best for long and narrow spaces, especially if there is a window at the end.
- The L-shaped Kitchen – one of the most common layouts, the L-shaped kitchens take up 1 corner and 2 walls of a room to create an “L” shape. Usually, the size of the two countertop lengths will be pretty similar in l shaped kitchen, though they can vary depending on the size of the room. When it comes to kitchens, L shaped designs are very common.
- The U-shaped Kitchen – this layout uses 3 walls and 2 corners of the room to create a “U” shape. With a slight area increase in an l shaped kitchen, kitchen u shaped add more open shelving and space to your kitchen.
- The Island Kitchen – this is any design that features a kitchen island somewhere in the room, though it's usually found on U-style designs.
- The Peninsula Kitchen – the peninsula style is VERY similar to the U-shape, except that one of the countertops is freestanding in the middle of the room to create an island-like breakfast bar, breakfast nook, or countertop area.
The bottom line
A lot of homes don't have the room needed for a U-shaped cooking area, but if you do, I would recommend getting one! A well-designed U-style space with granite counters and stainless steel appliances could be just what your home needs to propel it to the next level and significantly increase its value.
Whatever layout you go for, we hope you enjoy it and find it practical for your cooking needs!