How To: Plan a Small L Shape Kitchen

Need some ideas to get the very best from your small L shape kitchen? Learn our professional planning tricks and squeeze the most from your space with our beginner's guide to creating a perfect L shaped kitchen design.

Dave White
Dave White
June 3, 2020
How To

A modern handle-less L shape kitchen design

L shaped kitchens are a great fit for smaller rooms. They typically occupy just two walls and have an innate ability to open up your space - all whilst keeping things functional. While they're ideal for smaller homes or apartments, they can also be adapted to larger rooms by adding an island or dining table.


As versatile as they may be, it’s still important to plan them properly to make sure the end result is both beautiful and functional.

Follow us through the design process below and you'll have your first L shape kitchen design down in no time!

Psst: don't want to design it yourself? Ask one of our designers to do it for you.

Step #1 - The Measure

First things first: If you haven't already, measure your room. Don't forget to mark on the positions of any windows, doors or other things you’ll need to avoid like radiators or plugs.

Here’s a example of what a measured room should look like:

A fully measured floorplan showing the size and positions of our windows and doors.


NB: In addition to doors and windows, we also have a sloping ceiling to contend with on the back wall of our L shaped kitchen design. No problem! Just make a note of the available wall height before the sloping ceiling starts, so you know how how much vertical space you have available:

We have 1550mm to the underside of our sloping ceiling, and our overall ceiling height is 2400mm.


Once your space is fully measured, start planning from the corner of your L and add units outwards along each wall. If pushed for space, aim to get your sink on one leg of the L and your hob on the other. This defines your cooking and cleaning zones more clearly, improving efficiency:

Planning outwards from the corner of your L helps keep your main areas defined.


With the rough positions of your sink and hob now planned in, the layout of your L shape kitchen will quickly start to emerge!

Step #2 - Laying It All Out

The goal in small kitchen planning is to divide your room up into the three main working zones (sink, cooker and fridge) whilst still leaving enough space between them for working and food prep. This also helps ensure adequate safety tolerances between your main areas, as well as a nice visual balance:

Leaving gaps between your main appliances naturally creates space for food prep.


If you're struggling with where to place your main appliances, here’s some guidelines for where things should go:

Sink:

If your L shaped kitchen design has a window on one wall, the sink will most likely need to be planned in front of it. It’s good to position your sink at the outset as neither the hob nor any tall housings should be planned in front of a window. 

Hob:

It's good to plan the hob on an external wall if possible as this makes it easier to vent the extractor fan outside. Try to centralise it on the run as far as possible, away from the corner and at least 150mm away from the end of any worktops. There should be at least 600mm of space between the hob and the sink. If you cant get this, consider planning your hob on the other leg of your L.

TOP TIP: Free up even more wall space by opting for a down-draft hob with an integrated extractor fan:

A Bora Pure Down-draft hob - no overhead extractor fan required!

Oven:

In smaller L shape kitchens worktop space is usually in short supply so it's wise to plan your oven directly below the hob. Raising it up in a tall unit will cost you valuable bench space, but this works well in larger L shapes with more worktop space or an island.

Tall units/fridge:

If both legs of your L are about the same size, we’d recommend placing your tall units on the hob side. This keeps all your cooking functions grouped together and means prep space is available between the fridge/larder and the hob, creating more space around the sink. 

If your L shape is uneven, tall housings will need to go either right at one end of the L or across the shorter wall entirely - you’ll want to avoid eating up too much workspace or leaving tight, inaccessible corners like this:

Don't cramp the corner! Leave at least one base unit on each side of your corner unit to avoid cramping.


Wall units:

Despite being the smallest units in a kitchen, wall units can give your storage space a huge boost. They need to be placed properly in a small space though to stop it feeling overwhelmed. Add them to the longest wall in your L shape and consider using floating shelves on the other leg of the L to keep your space open and prevent crowding. 

Got high ceilings? Build your wall units vertically to create additional storage space:

Adding a second tier of wall units helps make the most of high ceilings.


Worktop space:

A good amount of available worktop space is essential for a functional design - it's used for food prep and also helps keep your main areas divided. You’ll want aim for a minimum of 600mm (24") between your  worktop elements (eg sink and hob) and also make sure there's space on either side of these too - nothing should be hard-up against a worktop edge or cramped into a corner.

Ultimately, the amount of worktop you'll have available will depend on the size of your L shape kitchen, and how many tall units you've decided to include in your design.

Stick to these guidelines and your best layout will soon emerge. Here’s how ours has ended up:

The final L shape kitchen design for our planning space.


You can see how the clearly defined areas have allowed for enough worktop space for food prep, even in this tiny kitchen. Despite sacrificing a base unit for the luxury of a dishwasher, we’ve still managed to include ample storage space too:

Our plans annotated to show which units are planned for storage and which are appliances.


We've marked all our storage areas above with the yellow "S" icon, and our appliances with the blue icon. To make the most of our floor space we've planned our bins in beneath the sink where they can't get in the way!

Step #3 - Check Yourself

With your newly laid out kitchen plan complete, its now time to do a quick check to ensure that: A) You've allowed for as much working space around your main kitchen areas as possible and: B) All your safety tolerances are OK.

It's wise to consult a designer on these bits if you feel the need, but a good starting point is to check that:

  • You have at least 600mm of worktop space between each kitchen zone (hob and sink for instance). This creates prep space and keeps your areas defined visually.
  • At least 150mm of space is available between your hob and the L/R edge of your worktop, or the side of any bordering tall units (this helps prevent heat damage to the sides of your tall units, and also keeps pan handles away from unit & worktop sides where they can be knocked).
  • Your sink and hob haven't been forced into the corner of your L shape (the exception here is if you've housed either in a corner unit at a 45° angle)
  • If you have an extractor inside a wall unit, make sure it's at least 650mm above the worktop for an induction hob, or 750mm above the worktop if you plan on installing a gas hob.


It's also important to be mindful of your own workflow while planning your layout, but expect to be a little limited here. Getting the most out of an L shaped kitchen in a small space means playing by its rules; the trick is knowing where to find room to manoeuvre (more on this below!)

Where possible, you should also do your best to work in symmetry with the unit sizes. A nice, even balance in your door widths will help the kitchen feel nestled in your smaller space rather than forced into it:

Step #4 - Tricks Of The Trade


Small kitchens may be limited when it comes to size, but this doesn't mean they should be any less functional: they still need to perform the same basic duties as larger kitchens at the end of the day.

As you're pushed for space, a shrewd and cunning approach towards your layout is a must. Here’s a few nifty tricks we’ve used to get the most out of our limited planning space:

450 dishwasher:
Good for a 2 person household, these slimline dishwashers make a great addition to an L shape kitchen if you can spare the unit space. Plan them away from the corner of your L for hassle-free unloading.

Fridge position:
The fridge is one of the most high-traffic areas in your kitchen, and needs to be kept away from your functional areas to stop unwanted visitors crowding your cooking space. We’ve kept ours near the door to allow easy access for other family members. 

Midi/half height units:
We've used these to help us avoid the sloping ceiling, but they're also a great solution for opening up the vertical space, preventing a small kitchen from becoming imposing. The top shelf can also be used for additional storage, freeing up valuable worktop areas. 

Single bowl sink:
Teamed up with our slimline dishwasher, a small single bowl sink will offer all the cleaning space a small L shape kitchen needs. Be sure to include drainer grooves if you don't have a dishwasher!

Integrated bins:
Tall pedal bins may look nice but they can eat up valuable floor space. We’ve planned our bins in one of our integrated bin units under the sink for an efficient and hygienic solution. 

Plinth drawers:
A sneaky hidden drawer that sits behind our plinth/kickboard and offers rough & ready storage for some of your less widely-used items.

Wall cladding/hanging:
Free up some drawer space by taking advantage of your walls for hanging larger utensils. Our wall space organisers are particularly good at this!

Le Mans unit:
Get the most out of your corners with an internal carousel! Our Le Mans style internal extends all the way out, making access a breeze and helping you avoid wasted space at the back of your corner unit. 

Floating shelving:
Our planning space has a window close to the corner of our L and also a sloping ceiling, which means an extra wall unit just isn't possible here. The solution? Forget the end wall unit and instead add some floating shelves! This keeps the corner open and accessible, and also helps shape the design to the room.

Opting for shelves instead of wall units is also a great way to avoid crowding in smaller kitchens. 

Extractor space:
The extractor fan is at head height, meaning if it was crammed in between two wall units it would be very noticeable. To help ease this, we’ve planned the units next to the extractor slightly narrower in width than they could be, creating a subtle gap between the two.

It might not seem like much, but small touches like this are what keeps a tight design feeling cosy and not squeezed.

Summary

And there we have it! A functional and stylish L shaped kitchen, designed for your space in just ten minutes. You can see how taking a creative approach to your available space can make all the difference to a small kitchens functionality.

That said, there's certainly a knack to creating an effective design in a small space, so don't be too hard on yourself if it hasn't quite turned out the way you envisaged. At GKS, professional advice is just a phone call away!

If you’re short on time (or confidence), why not send us your room measurements and get one of our GKS designers to prepare a design for you? With years of design experience we’re certain to get the very best from your space, even in the smallest of rooms.

Curious about costs? Check out our L shape kitchen price examples for more info.

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