Have a U-Shaped Kitchen? 5 Ways to Make It Work Better for Your Family


For many homeowners, a U-shaped kitchen layout is predetermined by the rest of the home’s interior layout. If you’re not sure how to make the most of this traditional kitchen style, then here are five great tips for maximizing your U-shaped space.

1. Open One Side

Just because you have a U-shaped kitchen doesn’t mean you must suffer with a small and claustrophobic space. You may be able to open up the area by removing the upper cabinets and a wall on one side. This can instantly make the kitchen less isolated and more harmonious with surrounding rooms.

While this method sacrifices some storage space, you can still keep the work area functional by leaving the countertops. These countertops effectively become a large peninsula or island, and you can still make the most of the lower base cabinets.

2. Lighten It Up

If your kitchen feels small and dark, opening it up with natural and artificial lighting can help make it seem lighter. Look for ways to add an additional window or enlarge existing ones. If that’s not an option, then a skylight can be the perfect alternative — letting in light without taking up wall space.

Installing artificial light sources can also help. Task lighting, under-cabinet lights and dimmer switches give options for both working in the kitchen and relaxing around it.

3. Use Clever Storage

U-shaped kitchens often boast the best storage capacity of the major layout styles, but they still have their drawbacks. With so many corners and joints, you may find wasted space around the edges where standard cabinets simply don’t fit well. Make use of these areas with custom-designed cabinets.

Do you have an odd corner? Try adding corner cabinets with lazy Susans to bring contents forward. Hinged pullout doors unfold outward so that more of the interior cabinet space is exposed. You can even add tall, narrow vertical dividers to a tiny space to store things like baking pans and cutting boards.

Don’t forget to make use of the complete vertical space. Take cabinets all the way to the ceiling and use kick drawers to extend storage down low.

4. Plan Counter Space

Another benefit of U-shaped kitchens is that they generally have lots of counter space. This means you may be able to take out some counters and make the room feel larger without losing a lot of functionality. By creating storage and built-in homes for small appliances, you can free up counter space and reduce visual clutter.

In addition, planning how you will use your countertops can make a closed-off kitchen more efficient. Adding a counter near the door, for example, may help reduce foot traffic in a small kitchen because people can take and leave items without bothering the cook. Alternatively, you could use zones and workstations to manage traffic flow.

5. Integrate It

Just because your kitchen isn’t part of an open layout, you can still make it feel more integrated by using style and decorating. For example, use a complementary color palette and furniture style for both the kitchen and the dining area beside it. Or add a breakfast area near the open side of the “U” so that guests and children can interact with cooks in the kitchen.

Want to spend more time with your little ones? Turn your peninsula into a homework area or creative workspace for kids. Alternatively, make the area physically larger by adding an adjoining outdoor cooking or dining area.

If you need help determining how best to maximize your U-shaped kitchen, then look for an experienced contractor in your area. At Sawhorse Designers and Builders, we have been helping homeowners remodel their homes for more than 37 years, and we can help you bring out the best in your kitchen.

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