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Galley Kitchen Remodel Design Ideas and Tips

When it comes to home design, bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes, the smallest spaces can hold the most personality!

This is certainly the case with a galley kitchen. 

Designed to be long and narrow, these types of kitchens are common in older rural homes, as well as urban apartments. 

Ready to give yours a facelift? Here are a few tricks to help you make the most of your galley kitchen remodel project!

Add Cafe Seating at One End

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Most galley kitchens feature two parallel rows of cabinets and counter space. In the middle, there’s a slender walkway with just enough room for basic food prep.

When looking at one, you might wonder where you should incorporate seating. If you don’t have a separate designated dining room, this can pose a design challenge.

Yet, look a little more closely. Do you have a small amount of room at one end of the galley kitchen? If so, consider adding a small cafe-style table there.

You don’t need a ton of square footage to make a gorgeous impression. Stick with a round table to save space, and invest in gorgeous chairs to make a style statement. 

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This can be an ideal place to enjoy morning coffee or weeknight family meals!

Conceal Appliances

Yes, built-in appliances are more expensive than freestanding ones and can raise your new kitchen cost. However, if you have space in your project budget, this is one place we suggest splurging.

Why? It’s all about aesthetics. 

You’re tight on space with a galley kitchen, and you have to maximize every square inch. If your refrigerator, oven, and microwave all blend seamlessly with your cabinetry, you can create the illusion of a larger room. 

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On the other hand, a bulky stainless steel freezer that juts into your path can make the kitchen feel tight and cluttered. 

Embrace Open Shelving

Remember when open shelves had a major moment a few years back? Homeowners across the country embraced the trend because it made their kitchens feel more airy and open. 

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This is exactly why we recommend it as one of our top kitchen remodel tips! Galley designs, in particular, benefit from any feature that lightens the vibe of the space. 

While you may shudder at the idea of openly displaying your odd array of coffee mugs or chipped dishes, take heart.

The beauty of this look is that it’s meant to be a little eclectic. Embrace your mismatched teacups and growing cookbook collection! Add a few potted succulents and an inspirational sign.

In other words, make it yours and fill your shelves with things that you’ll love to walk by every day. Here are a few easy styling tips to help you get started. 

Lighten the Paint

If you’re renovating an existing galley kitchen, you might feel the need to rip out all of the existing cabinetry and start fresh with new ones. 

However, keep in mind that this step could heap a ton of cost onto your project. If the cabinets are structurally in good shape, you can simply paint them instead.

You’d be surprised at the massive transformation that this little step can achieve. When choosing a new paint color, try to go as light as possible on the color scale.

For instance, if you want a blue tone, skip the navy and embrace a barely-there blue/gray. This will brighten the kitchen and make it appear larger than it actually is.

While you’re at it, go ahead and modernize the hardware too. Swap out those solid-white knobs from 1985 and install sleek new chrome handles for an instant makeover.

Add Peekabo Windows

Most of the time, homeowners don’t have enough space to incorporate sprawling picture windows in a galley kitchen. 

Yet, that doesn’t mean you have to submit to a lifetime of chopping veggies in the dark. 

Look for ways to add narrow peekaboo windows wherever possible. This might mean partially cutting the wall out to see into the adjacent living space. Or you could add a small window facing the exterior of your home, with views of the outside. 

This is a great way to add some natural light to the space and keep it feeling fresh. 

Widen the Aisle

When researching galley kitchen design ideas, think about the total footprint of the space. In some homes, the kitchen is as wide as it can possibly get, and you’ll have to work with what’s there.

Other times, there may be a little dead space on either side of the room. If this is the case, consider making the kitchen a little wider. 

You’ll never regret having too much walking space, and a wider aisle makes it easier when you have company over, too!

If possible, try to make the kitchen between four to six feet across. You can also go wider if space allows!

Design a Work Triangle

Does your galley kitchen end at a wall? If you’re redesigning it from scratch, consider placing your stove there. 

This way, you can create what’s known as a “work triangle“. In short, this means that your stove, sink, and refrigerator all form a triangular shape.

This makes your work much more efficient and prevents you from walking all the way down the aisle each time you want to perform a new task.

Nix the Other Side

Traditional galley kitchens have two opposing sides, each containing its fair share of counter space and cabinet storage.

While it’s nice to have plenty of space to stash your gear, think about whether you truly need that much room. If you can do without some of the storage, talk to your contractor about removing one side altogether.

This way, you can open the kitchen up to an adjoining family room or dining room. This can make it much bigger and more practical, especially for a growing family. 

Create a Focal Point

Professional kitchen designs all have one thing in common: They highlight a special feature, which becomes the focal point. 

In both galley kitchens and traditional kitchens, this point is usually the range or oven hood. 

Go big here, and don’t be afraid to choose a true show-stopper. A gorgeous copper hood can pop in an all-white kitchen, while a premium range adds sophistication to any space. 

Even something as minor as a geometric runner can become the focal point of your kitchen. You may also want to showcase a special painting, a unique piece of cabinetry, or a mirrored backsplash.

Whatever you decide to incorporate, try to add it to one end of the galley kitchen. That way, visitors can keep their eyes on it the entire time they’re walking through the space. 

Don’t Eschew Character

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Galley kitchens might not be as practical or eye-catching as modern, open-concept ones. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t be absolutely beautiful. 

One of the best ways to preserve the character of yours is to resist the urge to work against it. When you redo a kitchen, you don’t necessarily have to gut it. 

Instead, look for ways to embrace the original quirks and flaws of the room. Build a bar that flows around those odd angles, and try to preserve the original window casings, if they’re in good shape. 

You can also keep the original floors or any exposed beams that may be overhead. As a bonus, the more willing you are to work with what you’ve got, the more money you can save in the long run!

Put Clutter Away

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Are you someone who always has multiple appliances kitchen out at once? Do you use your kitchen as a landing zone, where kids do homework and bills pile up on the counter?

As much as we love a lived-in home, there are certain spaces that simply don’t lend themselves well to messes, and a galley kitchen is one. Even a few stray pieces can quickly make the room feel out of line. 

While no one expects you to keep yours in pristine shape all of the time, try to incorporate built-in bins or boxes during your remodel. You can also add labeled shelves in your pantry to keep all of your food neat and organized. 

This way, you’ll have a designated place to put all of your odds and ends, and you won’t have to overflow the junk drawer each week. 

Ace Your Galley Kitchen Remodel

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This is an exciting and rewarding project, and you’ll appreciate coming home to yours each day. As long as you keep the space’s unique characteristics in mind, you can build a kitchen that feels spacious, airy, and built for entertaining. 

Ready to embark on your own galley kitchen remodel? Alpha Living can match you with top-rated kitchen pros so that you can consider a few options and save time and money. Get started here!

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