Galley kitchen ideas: 23 stylish looks to make the most of your space

These galley kitchen ideas prove that small spaces can still be big on style...

A small kitchen with galley layout with stained wood cabinets in a matt finish and marble countertops
(Image credit: Devol)

Looking for galley kitchen ideas? We get that even this popular kitchen design isn't always the simplest to get right – whether you've got a big or small kitchen space to work with – so you've come to the right place for advice and inspiration. 

Experts at Magnet say, 'Galley kitchens are one of the most popular layouts in homes across the country. They’re well-suited to smaller properties, giving you a useable kitchen space without sacrificing on your floorplan.'

'However, they can feel quite compact, and many of us look for ways to increase the feeling of space when extending or adjusting the layout isn’t an option.'

Our round up of stylish galley kitchen ideas will show you how to make the most of this type of kitchen space, without compromising on style. 

Covering everything from layout ideas, storage solutions and tips on making your space seem larger, to lighting and incorporating interiors trends to suit your personality, we've got clever ideas for your galley kitchen overhaul.

  • Kitchen planning? These clever kitchen layout ideas, including galley kitchen ideas will ensure your kitchen is beautiful and practical.

How do you arrange a galley kitchen?

A galley kitchen with cream cabinets, green patterned wallpaper and a pantry

(Image credit: Little Green)

The best layout for a galley kitchen will depend on how much space you have. 

If you have a bigger area to work with you could include a breakfast bar or a wall hung table, while if you're working with a small space, you'll have to be more creative and incorporate pull out tables and fold up chairs too.

Magnet's experts explain, ' As well as where to place your kitchen cabinets, it’s essential to think about other layout options when planning your galley kitchen. Think about your lifestyle requirements before you decide.'

'For example, do you want a kitchen diner? Or would you prefer a cooking-only kitchen? While many galley kitchens are limited in space, there are still plenty of opportunities to get creative with your layout.'

We take a look below at different galley kitchen layout ideas so check it out and match our suggestions to your space for a successful turnout. 

  • Redesigning a small kitchen? We've got everything you need to know in our guide to small kitchen design

1. Make the most of the space you have 

A galley kitchen with slim layout, oak effect shaker cabinets, breakfast bar with stools and large kitchen door to garden

(Image credit: B&Q)

To maintain a spacious feel even though the space is narrow you can be clever with your layout, this kitchen is a great example of how you can make a galley design work. 

The left features full sized units and on the right, there are half width base and wall units that include a clever mini breakfast bar. 

The color scheme is neutral which helps to create a light and airy feel, use recessed lights to keep the kitchen looking more streamlined. 

  • On the hunt for small kitchen ideas? Get inspired by these tiny, but beautiful and really functional spaces...

2. Make easy updates to your existing galley kitchen

small galley kitchen with white and pink scheme and monochrome feature wall by tile mountain

(Image credit: Tile Mountain )

Whether you're a renter looking to make landlord-friendly alterations, or a homeowner seeking affordable solutions for a tired galley kitchen, creating the kitchen of your dreams could be as simple as a lick of paint.

From bright, happiness-inducing shades, to moody and atmospheric interiors, painting is the easiest way to incorporate trends. Don't let the idea of DIYing put you off, either, as our handy guide to painting kitchen cabinets will talk you through the steps. 

We love the millennial feel of this pop of pink in this galley kitchen, especially when paired with a statement piece of monochrome artwork.

3. Make the most of natural light

white galley kitchen with tiled flooring and large windows by magnet

(Image credit: Magnet)

Looking for space-stretching galley kitchen design ideas? Creating a focal point at the end of a galley kitchen is a powerful design tool that draws the eye, making a small space feel longer and larger. 

This trick is particularly effective if you're fortunate enough to have windows at the end of your galley kitchen, as natural light is also helpful in creating the illusion of space. Pair with white and light wood kitchen furniture to complete the look. 

4. Still go big on color in a galley kitchen 

A galley kitchen with kitchen island with mustard yellow velvet bar stools, pink cabinets and open shelving

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Colorful kitchen schemes are a big trend right now, so go all out! We love these coral colored units - the color is really warming and spot on for this season. 

If you only have one wall of base units a great idea is to put in an island to create further worktop space and storage and it’s a fab alternative to a repeat row of base units. 

Add in some pings of gold and some curvy bar stools to complete the look.

Remember what we said about focal points in galley kitchens? Creating a gallery wall at one end of your kitchen – particularly if it's the wall you see when entering the kitchen – is an effective means of achieving this elongating effect.

We'd recommend browsing sites such as Desenio, Etsy or Society 6  for prints and picking up frames from Ikea – the Ribba Frame is an affordable favorite. 

Inspired by this kitchen? Take a look at these quirky gallery wall ideas and recreate your own. 

6. Be creative with a dining space in a galley kitchen

A galley kitchen with white cabinets, blue walls and dining table

(Image credit: B&Q)

Working out clever ways to include even a pull-out or fold-up table without sacrificing tons of floor space will be a real bonus. 

After all, if you've got a small galley kitchen, it's unlikely you've got a great big dining room, too. 

So, work with your kitchen designer to include a breakfast bar or a wall hung table – or one that can pull out from under a work surface, and pick chairs that fold up too, so you can have floor space when you need it and dining space when you need it, too.

7. Choose sleek cabinets (with plenty of storage potential) for a contemporary feel

galley kitchen with white and grey scheme and light wood cabinets by wren kitchens

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Opting for kitchen cabinets with a sleek finish is a great option if you're keen to design a galley kitchen that has a distinctly contemporary, yet compact feeling.

When designing your galley kitchen, plan the storage you'll need with precision, and bear in mind that open shelves will keep everything to hand but need to be kept neat; that deep drawers are better than base cabinets for maximizing space; and that wall cabinets should be as shallow as possible if your kitchen isn't to feel too narrow.

Specially designed corner units are an especially useful addition, allowing you to make use of space that might otherwise have been wasted.

Magnet's experts add, 'Whatever your style, clutter is the enemy of small spaces. It’s essential to keep your worktops as clear as possible to keep your galley kitchen design streamlined and aesthetically pleasing.' 

'When you’re thinking about your galley kitchen ideas, plan your cabinet storage carefully. Try to give everything a place and consider innovative systems if you need to.'

Speak to your kitchen designer about space-saving features during the early stages of design and development. If you need any more advice on what to ask a kitchen designer then have a read of our guide.

8. Make the most of high ceilings

kitchen with white cabinets and wooden tops by dar lighting group

(Image credit: dar lighting group)

They're characteristically short on floor space, so galley kitchen designs that maximize the height potential of a room are a real bonus.

If you're worried about ceiling high cabinets making your kitchen feel small and boxed in, we'd recommend opting for a crisp white finish. 

White is space enhancing and timeless (meaning you won't go off it as soon interiors trends change). 

Pair with woods and a stripped back brick wall or metro tile design for a sophisticated, Scandi finish. You can actually create an exposed brick wall yourself, just follow our step-by-step guide.

9. Incorporate dark shades without overwhelming your space

While it's true that the easiest way to create the illusion of space in a small, galley kitchen is to opt for an all-white kitchen scheme, this doesn't mean you have to shy away from darker shades entirely. 

So, fear not, lovers of the dark and atmospheric kitchens trend, it's not entirely off limits.

Kitchen cabinets with a darker finish – we love the idea of a deep, inky blue – along with black, aluminum frame windows and dark wood accessories successfully hint at a moodier feeling interior style without overwhelming a small space.

10. Or go for an all over white scheme 

small shaker style kitchen with arger and white color scheme

(Image credit: deVOL)

And if you want to keep everything light and bright in a galley kitchen, a totally white scheme can look really stylish. Also it's clearly making this small space look so much bigger. 

If you want to break up all the white, mix in some glass fronted cabinets too and add some contrast with your choice of flooring.

11. Use accessories to inject color into a space

galley kitchen with white scheme and black counter tops and red blind by english blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

Another way to inject color and create a space-enhancing focal point (there's that design trick again) is to choose a brightly colored blind which will offset an otherwise monochrome scheme and add interest to the kitchen.

  • We have loads more practical (and of course beautiful) kitchen window ideas in our gallery so check those out too. 

12. Add interest with patterned tiles

Tile patterns on the wall, or floor, are a great option for incorporating color and character into a galley kitchen, especially when they're used in small quantities. 

This gorgeous, light blue kitchen maximizes space with ceiling high cabinetry and proves that galley kitchens can be a haven for color. 

13. Or pick out a bold wallpaper 

A galley kitchen with white cabinets, black countertops, green walls and downlighting

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Just because your kitchen is small it doesn’t mean you can’t create a super stylish area. This lush green wall looks fabulous and it works well with the monochrome kitchen wallpaper

Why does it work? Because the rest of the scheme is pale so it adds contrast and you can tie in the green with herbs and accessories - a green tea towel, green glassware for example. The wallpaper looks fabulous with the jet black wall lights so add in black as an accent too.

14. Prioritize storage solutions in galley kitchens

Keeping the surfaces of a galley kitchen clear is vital as clutter makes a space appear smaller. 

You'll also want to prioritize maximizing surface space for food preparation. This means choosing the best small kitchen storage solutions. 

In addition to space for storing crockery, cutlery and the dreaded Tupperware, you'll also need space to stow away the coffee machines and food processors that have the tendency to be left on display in larger kitchens.

15. Choose open shelving to enhance your space

galley kitchen with white cupboards and wooden surfaces by wearth london

(Image credit: Wearth London)

Open shelving is a great kitchen storage alternative that works well in a galley kitchen. In addition to costing less, overall, than kitchen cabinetry, open shelving also allows for a more relaxed, unfitted finish.

Opting for a darker shade of paint, or tiles, behind the shelves is a great way to add interest and dimension to a space, without overwhelming it.

Style shelves with only the prettiest pieces from your kitchenware collection. What's more these sort of galley kitchen design ideas don't eat up a lot of budget.

  • The best shelving ideas will add heaps of personality to your space. Decorate the bedroom, lounge, kitchen or garage with DIY shelf looks...

16. Up the interest with different materials and textures 

Incorporating different textures – think a combination of wood, stone, concrete and glass – is a great galley kitchen idea as it creates interest and detracts from the size of a space.

We love the use of dark woods, light stones and glass that make this galley kitchen feel dynamic, well designed and, ultimately, more spacious. 

The addition of a small, one-seater bench makes for a great dining table solution if you live alone. 

17. Choose the right sized tiles for your space

When designing a small, galley kitchen, it's important to remember that the size of the tiles you choose can make a big difference to the finish of a space.

As our handy guide to choosing the right tiles for a small kitchen explains, opting for glossy, metallic or mother-of-pearl finish tiles will enhance a space by reflecting light and giving a grander sense of proportions.

  • Searching for kitchen tile ideas? Give your kitchen a refresh with these floor and wall tile ideas.

A white galley kitchen with patterned tiles splashback, white countertop and dining table area

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

If your kitchen is generous in length, you can have all your units down one end leaving an end free for a small table – if you opt for a rectangular one and a bench or two you’ll have even more space. 

Use the same flooring throughout to help the look flow visually and if the kitchen is dark then choosing white units and open shelving will help to keep it light and airy. Adding in patterned tiles for a splashback will add a decorative touch.

19. Make a galley kitchen work in a period property

A red galley kitchen with slim french doors, herringbone flooring, sleek handleless cabinets and breakfast bar

(Image credit: Schmidt Kitchens)

Often, we have to work with wonky walls and various odd layouts that can be found in old houses. 

This simply means we need to be more innovative with how we plan our kitchens. Here, we have one wall of streamlined units from floor to ceiling - including a hob, and on the other we have a smaller run of base units as the wall is shorter in length. 

The end has been made into a nifty little breakfast bar that slightly curves round. Keep original features where you can - the parquet flooring adds character to this scheme. 

  • Looking for kitchen flooring ideas that are practical, hard-wearing and stylish? We've got stunning tile, vinyl and wood ideas that will floor you.

20. Keep things symmetrical 

A galley kitchen with grey shaker cabinets and slim layout

(Image credit: Devol)

We love the relaxing feel of this kitchen, the neural scheme makes it feel warm visually. Symmetry is being used here to create balance and the single side of wall units prevents the overall look feeling too dark and heavy. 

A charming little breakfast has been added by the window complete with open shelving to break up the scheme. The use of natural materials like wood and linen adds an authentic feel too.

21. Hide it all away 

a galley kitchen with handleless wood cabinets, in a kitchen with bifold doors

(Image credit: Daval Kitchens)

We don’t all like it our bits and bobs out on show, so if streamlined is your thing then be inspired by this modern kitchen

Storage is key if you want to recreate this clutter free design - choose units that go up to the ceiling and incorporate as many as your kitchen space allows. 

Don’t use door handles - opt for sleek cupboard designs like the ones shown. A marble worktop is a fabulous finishing touch and it joins each side of this kitchen together successfully.

22. Choose the single option to save on space

A white galley kitchen with stainless steel handles, red tiled wall with subway/metro tiles

(Image credit: The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse)

Galley kitchens can be one single run of wall units because it could be that your space literally only allows for it due to being so narrow. 

So how do you make this work? Well, you have a good clear out and bin everything that doesn’t have a use for starters - that old saucepan with the wonky handle - chuck it! 

Space will be tight so you need to be clever and of course going UP is the main choice you have. 

If you can manage without wall units then do as they will block the light - choose open shelving instead and keep your essentials on show but neatly! 

And choose some fabulous kitchen tiles like these red ones to create a focal wall - it’s a great design feature and detracts for the small kitchen area.

23. Add interest to a galley kitchen with contrasts

A small kitchen with galley layout with stained wood cabinets in a matt finish and marble countertops

(Image credit: Devol)

There’s a lot to like about this modern country kitchen and it’s a great example of how to make a galley kitchen work in the space you have available. 

The units contrast perfectly with each other and the black grounds the overall look without making the kitchen feel dark in any way. 

The worktops unify both sides and the stone flags add authenticity to the look and a warmth too.  

Emily Shaw
Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.