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Remodeling a Galley Kitchen: Maximizing Space and Functionality

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Galley kitchens are often found in small apartments, boats, and homes with limited space. Galley kitchens originated on ships and boats, where space is limited. They are characterized by their narrow, long “galley layout” and typically consist of two parallel counters or “walls” facing each other, with a walkway in between. The cooking area and appliances are usually located along one wall, while the sink and refrigerator are located along the opposite wall. The design allows for a streamlined cooking process that is easy to navigate, even in small spaces.

While some may view them as cramped and limiting, galley kitchens actually offer several advantages, including efficient use of space and ease of movement. However, a well-planned remodel can greatly improve the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a narrow kitchen.

Advantages of a Galley Kitchen

One of the main advantages of a galley kitchen is its efficient use of space. With all the essential appliances and storage areas located along the two parallel walls, everything is within easy reach. This arrangement allows for a streamlined cooking process that is easy to navigate, even in small spaces. Additionally, galley kitchens typically offer more counter space than other small kitchen layouts, making them ideal for preparing meals.

Another advantage of a galley kitchen is the ease of movement. With everything located along two parallel walls, there is no need to navigate around an island or other obstacles in the center of the kitchen. This makes it easy to move around and cook, even with other people in the kitchen.

Disadvantages of a Galley Kitchen

While galley kitchens offer several advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. The limited space may feel cramped and claustrophobic, particularly if there are multiple people in the kitchen. The narrow walkway may also make it difficult to accommodate larger appliances, such as a refrigerator or stove. Additionally, galley kitchens may lack natural light, which can make them feel even smaller.

If you are remodeling your home and your galley kitchen is too confining or otherwise inadequate, reconfiguring the floor plan to allow for more square footage and/or a more open kitchen may be your best option. This will likely involve moving walls, changing door openings and windows, and moving plumbing. So, it can become expensive to convert a galley kitchen to a more open concept.

Upgrading a Galley Kitchen

Fortunately, there are several ways to upgrade and improve the functionality of a galley kitchen. One of the simplest upgrades is to replace outdated appliances with newer, more efficient models that take up less space. For example, installing a microwave drawer will free up countertop space, making the kitchen feel less cramped. Additionally, installing under-cabinet lighting can brighten up the space and create a more open feel.

Another way to upgrade your kitchen is to maximize storage space. Installing new cabinets, shelving, or pull-out drawers can help to utilize every inch of available space. 

When choosing cabinetry, go for cabinets that are taller and extend to the ceiling. If your current configuration does not include upper cabinets, an easy win is to simply add cabinets above your counters. Whether you add or extend cabinets, you can maximize the vertical space and use the top portion for storing rarely used items. Glass-fronted cabinets or open shelves can be used to display decorative dishes, mugs, or glasses. Make sure that the cabinets and drawers are equipped with organizers that can help you sort and store items more efficiently. This will make it easier to find what you need and prevent clutter from building up.

If your kitchen has limited counter space, adding a kitchen island or peninsula on one end can be a great way to increase workspace. It can also be used as a breakfast bar or eating area, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen. Islands and peninsulas can also be equipped with extra storage options, such as shelves, cabinets, or drawers, which can be used to store appliances, cookware, or other kitchen items.

Lighting is another key aspect to consider when upgrading a galley kitchen. Adequate lighting can make the space feel brighter and more open. Installing recessed lighting, pendant lights, or track lighting can help to brighten up the space and create a more welcoming ambiance. Task lighting under cabinets can also help to illuminate work areas, making it easier to prepare meals.

Adding a window, where feasible, is a great way to add light to the kitchen, while creating a more open feel. If your sink is on an outside wall, this would be a natural place to add a window. But look for other places where you can introduce a window.

In addition to functional upgrades, adding decorative elements can help to improve the overall aesthetic of a galley kitchen. Choosing a light color scheme can help to create the illusion of a larger space. Neutral colors such as white, beige, or gray can help to brighten up the space and make it feel more open. Adding pops of color with decorative items such as rugs, curtains, or wall art or backsplash can also help to add personality and visual interest to the space. Creating a contrast of color between cabinets and countertops is a way to make a bold and fun statement with your newly remodeled kitchen.

Installing stainless steel appliances is another way to upgrade the aesthetic appeal of the room, without requiring additional space.


Remodeling a galley kitchen can greatly improve its functionality and aesthetic appeal. While this type of kitchen offers several advantages, such as efficient use of space and ease of movement, they also have some limitations, such as limited space and lack of natural light. By upgrading appliances, maximizing storage space, adding a kitchen island or peninsula, and improving lighting and décor, you can transform your galley kitchen into a more functional and inviting space. With a little creativity and planning, you can make the most of your galley kitchen and enjoy cooking and entertaining in your home. You may even find it becomes your dream kitchen!

Ready to remodel your kitchen in the Metro Atlanta area? Connect with us to see just how amazing your kitchen can be.