U-shaped kitchens are not only beautiful but also safe and very efficient. It offers sufficient functional and storage space irrespective of the kitchen size. It also removes the need to accommodate flow-through traffic. The only downside of a U-shaped kitchen is that it can only accommodate a cook at a time.

U-shaped kitchen

Is your client interested in optimizing their U-shaped kitchen? Here are some design tricks you can implement for excellent results.

U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

The U-shaped kitchen layout is such that there are three adjoining walls of cabinetry and work surfaces. There is also an open-end, which makes the kitchen accessible from the family room or dining. Like a galley kitchen, a U-shaped kitchen also has two cabinets running parallel, with the third set of cabinets closing off one end of the room.

 U-shaped kitchen layout

The setup of a U-shaped kitchen leaves room for an efficient work triangle. You can easily reach all appliances in just two to three steps. If the kitchen is larger, work areas may have too much space in-between them. The only way to increase efficiency is to introduce more cabinetry.

Why go for a U-shaped kitchen?

If you are looking for the perfect work triangle and design combination, a U-shaped kitchen gives you just that. The kitchen’s size determines the spaces between the kitchen areas; introducing the perfect blend of RTA cabinets and storage accessories can make any U-shaped kitchen design better.

RTA cabinets by hsm

Going for a U-shape layout is ideal for customized cabinet sizes – it is not the best for stock cabinets. With RTA cabinets, you get to choose from a greater range of sizes than stock cabinets and help your client save money. Having more options to choose from will make the optimization of storage capacity and efficiency easier.

cabinet storage accessories

Another upside of a U-shaped kitchen is the ample storage space it offers. However, you can increase the accessibility and usefulness of the space by introducing cabinet storage accessories. For instance, pullout cabinets will be perfect for small spaces, while rollout shelves will be ideal for areas that are difficult to access. Installing a two-tiered Lazy Susan or Moon-shaped shelving solutions will make a corner cabinet more efficient.

How do you optimize a U-shaped kitchen?

The first step is to assess the current situation of your client’s kitchen. Is it a small or a large U-shaped kitchen? What is the total square footage? This can help determine the design options to explore to arrive at the desired outlook.

1.          White shaker cabinets will help maximize natural light.

U-shaped kitchens are usually bright, thanks to the placement of cabinets, appliances, and windows. Introducing white shaker cabinets for the upper wall cabinets reflects the incoming light better. For small kitchens, white cabinets make the space appear expansive, while for large kitchens, they add an airy and spacious feel.

white cabinets make the space appear expansive

2.         Get the sink and cooktop positioning right.

You will most likely find the sink in the middle of one cabinet run in a U-shaped kitchen, with the refrigerator and stove in the other two cabinet runs. If the U-shaped kitchen is small, the sink goes into the longest set of cabinets. A good way to create more countertop work areas in a small U-shaped kitchen is to adopt an intentional spacing of the cooktop and sink.

3.          Use two-tone cabinets for improved visual interest.

U-shaped kitchen layouts and two-tone kitchen trends are perfect combinations. Installing white Shaker cabinets as the upper cabinets makes the light in the room more functional. The dark contrast can be achieved by installing Grey Shaker cabinets as the base cabinets.

grey and white kitchen cabinets

Alternatively, you can go for grey Shaker cabinets in every part of the kitchen and go for white granite or quartz countertop. This combination offers a reflective surface that gets the best out of the incoming light. You can achieve a relaxing space for meal preparation, entertainment, and dining in a U-shaped kitchen by adopting simple white and grey finishes.

4.         Introduce some symmetry in the layout.

A U-shaped kitchen design with a balanced look encourages relaxation and minimizes stress, irrespective of how busy the kitchen is. Symmetry is synonymous with happiness. Each appliance stays at the midpoint of a cabinet run with a flat cabinet layout, and tall cabinets, pantry, and complimentary storage are all lined up.

5.          Keep away the appliances.

It is common to see large, open-concept U-shaped kitchens extend into the dining and living rooms. In this case, it is best to avoid site lines into the kitchen leading directly to an appliance rather than the entire kitchen area. Find ways to keep away the appliances behind the cabinets’ door fronts – it reflects the look and style of the cabinet better.

6.         Make the workspace more efficient.

If a U-shaped kitchen layout is properly executed, there should be only 2-3 steps between the appliances, work area, and cabinets. This is the best way to maximize the safety and efficiency of the kitchen while cooking. Adopting an efficient layout will make food supplies, cleanup, and food prep easier to reach.

U-shaped kitchen cabinets

7.          Introduce seating and dining with a peninsula.

A small U-shaped kitchen may not be spacious enough for a separate dining table. However, if a peninsula for seating and dining along is present along one cabinet run, it enhances the functionality. One way to create a peninsula countertop with open space is to remove upper wall cabinets. The broader countertop leaves room for bar stools.

separate dining table

If the kitchen is large and open, you can introduce a peninsula to separate the kitchen and the living area, with some space for entertainment and sitting.

8.         Introduce a kitchen island.

Kitchen islands are ideal for larger U-shaped kitchen designs. For best results, ensure at least 3 feet of walkway space on all sides. A kitchen can only accommodate an island if it is 14 feet wide, and the cabinets extend 2 feet from the wall.

NB – The depth of an island is 3 to 4 feet. Go for a white Shaker kitchen island to create space for storage and seating and separation between rooms.

9.         Ensure flexibility in your U-shaped kitchen designs.

There is a lot of design flexibility when it comes to U-shaped kitchens. Leverage this flexibility to give your clients the best. There is no limit to the design possibilities you can explore, from various storage accessories, islands, peninsulas, and even tall cabinets. RTA Shaker cabinets offer a wide range of customization options to help your clients achieve their preferred kitchen style.

RTA Shaker cabinets

10.       Choose a cabinet style that maximizes the U-shaped layout.

An easy way to make your kitchen more functional yet aesthetically appealing is to install the right style of cabinets. Shaker cabinets are suitable for both small and large kitchens, thanks to their versatility and flexibility. They blend easily with different home décor and styles and are ideal for upgrades and new kitchen projects.

HSM RTA Cabinets will optimize your U-shaped kitchen


Are you remodeling a client’s U-shaped kitchen? Trust the team at HSM to offer you a wide range of options. From the perfect U-shaped kitchen layout to several kitchen cabinets, our expert kitchen designers are always available to recommend what works best for your project from our extended collection.

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