U-shaped kitchen ideas – for ultimate efficiency at your fingertips

The versatility of these U-shaped kitchen ideas means they will work no matter what the size, shape or style of your space
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • The versatility of this classic layout means it will work no matter what the size, shape of style of the kitchen

    These clever U-shaped kitchen ideas offer something for every space, no matter the size. The design is probably the most practical of 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-shaped kitchen layout. 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, galley or L-shaped kitchens, for example.

    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.

    U-shaped kitchen ideas

    1. Keep it smart

    A charcoal grey U-shaped kitchen with white worktops

    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. It also has 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.

    2. Think minimal

    A white kitchen with silver handles and a double island

    Image credit: David Giles

    This impressive white kitchen has the look of a U-shaped design, 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 unit. By choosing white for cabinetry, ceilings, walls and floor, the boundaries between surfaces blur. This gives the impression of a compact U-shaped design that gradually opens up as you move around.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Kitchen, Howdens

    3. Go dark

    A wooden U-shaped kitchen with cat artwork

    Image credit: Paul Raeside

    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 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 of its own and demonstrates a very individual approach to kitchen design, making the space feel fresh and special.

    4. Work a small space

    A small U-shaped kitchen with wooden worktops and white metro wall tiles

    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.

    5. Set up a breakfast station

    A peninsula with a wooden worktop and white bar stools

    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. The open kitchen shelving idea shown above stores a collection of wine and water glasses.

    6. Think outside the box

    A kitchen with black worktops, light cupboards and wooden flooring

    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 carcasses helps to further define this division.

    7. Plan around a window

    A white U-shaped kitchen with a large window above the sink

    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 matte-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.

    8. Introduce an island unit

    A kitchen with cream cupboards with blue wall tiles

    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.

    10. Add colour and pattern

    A pale green U-shaped kitchen with a floral blind on the window

    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 kitchen colour scheme.

    11. Add character

    A kitchen with white cabinets, wood worktops and pale green walls

    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!

    All the latest from Ideal Home