How to Design a Galley (Corridor) Kitchen

Use These Valuable Facts, Figures, and Tips to Help You Get Started

A galley or corridor kitchen layout
The layout of a typical galley or corridor kitchen.

 ThoughtCo / Chris Adams

The galley kitchen, sometimes referred to as a "corridor" kitchen, is a very common layout in apartments and in older, smaller homes where a more expansive L-shaped or open-concept kitchen is not practical. This is regarded as an efficient design that is most suitable for homes with single users or possibly couples. A home where multiple cooks regularly prepare food at the same time will require a carefully planned galley kitchen. In some cases, a galley kitchen can be quite large in floor space, though it will still share the same proportions.

The Essential Shape

The essential shape of a galley kitchen is a narrow rectangular-shaped room with most of the appliances and countertops located along the two long walls, with the end walls featuring entry doors or windows. The term "galley" is used because of the similarity to the shape of the cooking spaces found in ship galleys. 

Basic Dimensions

  • A galley kitchen can be any length by dividing the kitchen into multiple work zones. The length of a work zone in a galley kitchen (such as the work triangle) should be a maximum of eight feet.
  • The width of a galley kitchen should be seven to 12 feet with a minimum of three feet between opposing countertops. Three feet of walking space between countertops is a bare minimum and is best reserved for single-occupancy kitchens. Four to five feet between countertops is optimal. 

Basic Design Elements


  • Includes two countertops on opposing walls at the optimal countertop height (generally 36 inches high). 
  • Each countertop should be of relatively equal length to provide maximum working surface and appealing visual proportions. 


  • Optimal cabinet heights should be used unless special considerations exist. Generally, this means 36-inch high base cabinets, with upper wall cabinets beginning at 54 inches above the floor. 
  • Base cabinets should be a minimum of 24 inches deep and possess an adequate toe kick space. 
  • Upper cabinets should be used where additional storage space is needed. Spaces above the refrigerator and stove may accommodate specialty cabinets designed for these spaces.
  • No upper cabinets should be placed above the sink. 

The Work Triangle

  • The traditional kitchen work triangle—the arrangement of the principle cooking, storage, and food preparation areas—should be an equilateral triangle, with each arm the same length. Irregular triangles are awkward in galley kitchens. 
  • In the work triangle, the single element should be roughly centered opposite the elements found on the facing wall. This has been shown to create the most efficient work arrangement. 
  • A side-by-side refrigerator can be used as the central element of the triangle, but if you use a standard refrigerator, position it as one of the elements on the wall that has two elements. 
  • The refrigerator's hinge should be placed on the outside corner of the triangle so that the appliance opens from the center of the triangle.
  • If the work triangle is narrow due to space limitations, the center element may be placed off-center away from the refrigerator to allow more room for it to open.

Other Considerations

  • Having the kitchen open at both ends creates a through traffic corridor—you will need a space wider than the three-foot minimum to allow for traffic flow. 
  • Having the kitchen open on one end only is the most efficient arrangement since it reduces foot traffic through the space. 
  • Place the sink in front of a window or pass-through opening in the wall. This has the effect of making the kitchen feel larger and brighter.
  • Ensure you have the proper lighting levels for the working tasks. This may include an over-sink light fixture and under-cabinet task lighting, in addition to a central ceiling fixture. 
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Your Citation
Adams, Chris. "How to Design a Galley (Corridor) Kitchen." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Adams, Chris. (2020, August 26). How to Design a Galley (Corridor) Kitchen. Retrieved from Adams, Chris. "How to Design a Galley (Corridor) Kitchen." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 31, 2023).