Kitchen Layouts Pros and Cons: U-Shaped Kitchen

We’re back again with another entry to our all-new series where we discuss the shapes, the configurations and the layout possibilities within the kitchen. Here, you’ll see how you can make the most out of your kitchen by shaping the way you position your cabinets and electronics to suit your own lifestyle.

Last time, we looked at the L-shaped kitchen where two perpendicular, adjacent walls are lined with cabinetry and appliances to create an ideal look for open-plan living with great functionality for all the activities carried out in the room. If you haven’t yet checked out our previous blog where we discuss both the advantages and the shortcomings of such a layout, then please check it out here before you go any further.

This week, we’re looking at the U-shaped kitchen. Traditionally, this layout builds itself around three walls, where each wall incorporates cabinets and appliances. However, with the concept of open plan living on the rise, having three walls to create a U-shaped kitchen is not entirely necessary. Instead, U-shaped kitchens can utilise two walls and then create a U-shape with a breakfast bar extension. This allows the kitchen to be connected to the rest of the house while maintaining many of the advantages associated with its traditional layout.

Pro: Lots and Lots of Bench Space

Who doesn’t love some extra bench space? Bench space avoids feelings of being cramped and being overwhelmed. It’s the same concept as having time in your life or having space in your mind for thoughts. If every minute of your life is filled with strict tasks and agendas, then it will become overbearing when you find something new that you need to somehow fit within your days. Or if your mind is busy with its own list of issues to sort out and one other dilemma shows up for you to deal with, the stress levels will certainly rise as quickly as the tides in a storm.

Thus, as opposed to having small table space where you’re constantly having to shift things around like a Tetris game to place your bits and bobs, ample bench space ensures that there’s always room for your day-to-day workings. This is especially the case when you’re home with five bags of groceries in each hand. Aside from simply having bench space for increased utility, it also means more space for family and friends to sit around to have a fun, communal time.

Pro: Cook with Others

It’s never too early to get your kids helping out in the kitchen, but there’s always a more appropriate kitchen layout to accommodate having them involved. We mentioned last time that with the L-shape kitchen the pathways connecting each station are very close which means that it increases the efficiency for a single person but, causes a ruckus if another person gets involved. This is especially tricky when the kitchen is small so even if you’re on different arms of the L-shape, you may be bumping elbows when you work.

With a U-shaped kitchen, you can easily work back-to-back with your significant other or have one of your kids on two different sides of the U-shape while you work on the remaining side. The U-shaped kitchen layout amplifies collaboration also through its ability to easily assign distinct workstations or work zones. With a U-shaped kitchen, you can have one leg dedicated to cooking with the stovetop and oven, one for preparation with a bare benchtop and one for cleaning where the sink is located. If you’re a family that likes to bond through group activities such as cooking, a U-shaped kitchen may be the perfect layout for you.

Pro: Entertainment Hub

House parties, little gatherings or just having the parents over; the kitchen is debatably the heart of the home and having a layout that can make this heart beat a happy vibe is valuable. Years ago when rooms were stringently sectioned and each room had its own individual purpose, entertaining guests was extremely difficult for those who were working in the kitchen. The dining room would be behind another wall and conversations would be impossible to carry on without shouting through the hallway between rooms.

With open plan styles of home design dining rooms nowadays, living rooms and kitchens have been more commonly integrated into one large space to increase sociability as well as to provide an airier and more relaxed atmosphere. The U-shaped kitchen can be designed to apply to this open plan living style by utilising two walls and a breakfast bar. As a result, you allow for guests to sit and talk as you cook up a mean meal or for your kids to sit and discuss what they learnt in school as they do their homework. Furthermore, it means that you can easily communicate with those who are in the living room watching TV or sitting at the dining table.

Con: Too Many Corners

Last week we talked a bit about how corners in a kitchen layout can be a hassle. Sometimes homebuilders don’t even bother putting cabinetry in the corner which creates dead space: a severe detraction from the storage potential of your kitchen. Even if a shelf cupboard is installed, it’s a huge pain in the rear to retrieve anything from the back of these cabinets. Then, if there’s storage options are used such as magic corners, corner drawers or lazy Susan’s then it will result in a diminishing bank account.

With a U-shaped kitchen, you will have to deal with two of these corner problems which means, when you compare it to an L-shaped kitchen, double the trouble or double the costs. However, for all the benefits that are outlined above, it’s a compromise that may be a small price to pay.

Con: Feeling Cramped

The thing with a U-shaped kitchen is that you are surrounded with three, potentially high walls of cabinetry and appliances. This takes away floor space and although this can definitely increase efficiency by having a smaller work triangle, you can also find yourself feeling a little too enclosed in your kitchen walls. This becomes very apparent when it’s a design that builds its cabinets along three adjacent walls rather than one that incorporates an open plan design with two walls.

This is however dependent upon the size of the room that your kitchen is placed in. A small floor space to begin with would definitely result in some claustrophobic outcomes. On the other hand, if you have a huge floor space then it may create some inefficiencies if you’re running around with metres of distance between one side of the kitchen and the other. This can however be resolved by installing an island bench in if the space allows.

Contact Us Today

If you’re sold on the idea of having a U-shaped kitchen in your home or you have any inquiries about areas we didn’t quite touch upon in this article, please feel free to contact us. Visit us firsthand at our Malaga showroom at 1914 Beach Road or our Morley head office at 1/18 Boag Place. On the other hand, call our showroom at 9249 9492 or our head office at 9275 8253 to speak to one of our professional design consultants. Our experts are always happy to chat and provide you with ways that we can help you bring your kitchen renovation dreams to life.

By Jacky Lu, QN Designs