Create the perfect U-shaped kitchen

For ultimate efficiency, with everything at your fingertips choose an ultra practical U-shape design

The U-shaped kitchen is probably the most practical of kitchen layouts and can provide an additional run of potential storage or appliance space compared with a galley kitchen or L-shaped kitchen.

U-shaped kitchens can work in large spaces, but even small kitchens can benefit from a U-shaped design. Just be sure you have at least two metres of moving-around space between the opposite banks of units.

The design concept of the ‘golden triangle’ is a natural fit with a U shape: when designing your space, keep your fridge, cooker and/or hob and sink between 120cm and 270cm away from each other. This will make for a practical, time-efficient and safe use of your space, something that is harder to achieve in longer, L-shaped or galley kitchens, for example.

Ideally your U-shaped kitchen will have a window at the ‘U’ end. This makes a great spot for the sink, allowing you to look out over your garden while you wash up without having wall units overhead.

If you are looking for kitchen diner ideas, a U-shaped design is well worth considering. Depending on your space, it may be easy to incorporate a table and chairs at the opposite end of the U shape. Consider matching tabletop and worktops for a tailored look.

Be guided by the size of your room and the light levels when deciding on the look, style and colour of your kitchen. In a smaller space with a central window it may pay to stick to a largely white scheme. Modern hi-gloss units will help to keep light levels up as will glazed tiles and stainless-steel surfaces. Larger kitchens may be more able to handle deep colour, dark wood finishes and even hits of pattern.

Keep it smart

Image credit: Lizzie Orme

The peninsula unit is a great tool for creating a U-shaped kitchen within a larger space. This smart modern design features conventional units along one wall and one window and a peninsula that continues the run of storage and worktop space without the need for a third wall. Keeping the space open along one side like this is a great solution for open-plan areas where you want to define a kitchen without screening it from view.

Think minimal

Image credit: David Giles

This impressive, all-white space has the look of a U-shaped kitchen, while incorporating a walk-through in front of the high level units along the back wall. In essence this design consists of two islands and one wall of floor-to-ceiling units. By choosing white for cabinetry, ceilings, walls and floor the boundaries between surfaces blur, giving the impression of a compact U-shaped design that gradually opens up as you move around.

Get the look
Buy now: Kitchen, Howdens

Go dark

Image credit: Paul Raeside

Be bold in a small space, with dark-wood kitchen units and bare white walls. If you can pare back cupboards to the minimum, you may find you have capacity for a table and chairs. This smart kitchen has a look all its own and demonstrates a very individual approach to kitchen design, making the space feel fresh and special.

Work a small space

Image credit: Lizzie Orme

Turn a galley kitchen into a U-shaped kitchen by using the third, short wall to house an appliance, such as the range cooker shown here. Continue the run of wall units on this third wall for a defined, well designed space that makes the most of all available space without feeling cramped. This is helped by a predominantly white colour scheme tempered by the warmth of wood.

Set up a breakfast station

Image credit: Neale Smith

Extend a worktop to form a worktop-level breakfast bar and the third side of a U-shaped kitchen. Like a peninsula, a breakfast bar can extend a kitchen space out into the centre of a room, free from any walls. Integrate kitchen and living areas with the use of a single floor treatment and by introducing elements of kitchen storage outside the boundaries of the kitchen. Here open shelves store a collection of wine and water glasses.

Think outside the box

Image credit: Rachael Smith

Even a long narrow space can be home to a U-shaped kitchen: just fit one or two units at right angles at each end of your main bank of storage. This forms a very shallow U shape, but a U shape nonetheless and it’s a design that defines the practical kitchen area from the wider eating and entertaining area beyond. The play of hi-gloss cabinet fronts and veneer carcases helps to further define this division.

Plan around a window

Image credit: Colin Poole

In this U-shaped kitchen, a wide window is the central anchor point of the scheme, filling the space with light and showing off matt-finish units, rich wood and glazed tiles in their best light. The use of wood finishes on the floor and worktops brings a warmth and cosiness to an otherwise pale decorating scheme and adds a rustic edge.

Image credit: David Giles

In a small space, you may prefer to have the look of a U-shaped kitchen while swapping out one long run of units on one side for an island unit. This may make your space more useable and is especially useful if your kitchen incorporates a back door. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality in a compact room. Here an array of houseplants add a homely touch.

Add colour and pattern

Image credit: Colin Poole

Swap wall units for open shelves on one side of a U-shaped kitchen and it will help to open up the space a little, especially next to a full-height cabinet such as oven housing. Using a contrasting wall paint will help to highlight the absence of cabinetry. Pops of red and pink on small appliances, kitchen linen and accessories enliven this predominantly green scheme.

Add character

Image credit: Alexander James

While chimney breasts and windows can prove tricky to design a U-shaped kitchen around, tackled well they can turn into design features in their own right. The integration of a hob, oven and cooker hood into this chimney and the fit of base and wall units around the adjacent alcove and window spaces bring oodles of charm and character to this space. A lovely warm green on walls makes the perfect backdrop to country-cream units and oak worktops.

Get the look
Buy now: Kitchen, Howdens

What are you waiting for? Get planning your ideal U-shaped kitchen now!

Ideal Home loves...