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U-Shaped Kitchen Design Ideas

September 12, 2021 | Updated on: January 31, 2022

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, a U-shaped kitchen design would make the ideal choice for a layout. It’s perfect for people with busy households and those who love to cook or even spend time around the kitchen counter. There are many benefits of having a U-shaped kitchen design and exploring a few of the large and small U shaped kitchen remodel ideas below can help you get some inspiration for your own kitchen design. 

 small U shaped kitchen

One of the most common kitchen layouts consists of 3 straight units that form right angles to each other in the shape of a “U” - it’s the U shaped kitchen layout. It’s a practical option and helps make great use of the space. Regardless of whether you have a large or small kitchen or one with an open or closed floor plan, this kitchen is a suitable option. You can have a U shaped kitchen open to dining room


With a U-shaped kitchen design, you can not only have a functional layout, but also one that has balance and symmetry. This design also makes it ideal to incorporate the kitchen work triangle which is important to have in any kitchen. The work triangle refers to the space between the refrigerator, stove, and sink. It helps support the functionality of the kitchen since it separates the 3 major elements. 

This is also the layout in which you get the most counter space, compared to the other most common options. With extra counter space comes extra storage space, which not many people will turn down. You can add extra cabinets both below and above the counters in this design. 

U kitchen

If you’re looking into incorporating a U kitchen design into your layout, keep reading to get some ideas and to discover more of the benefits. 

What Are the Benefits of a U-shaped Kitchen?

Being considered one of the most practical kitchen layouts, it’s also perfect for the well-known work triangle. As mentioned above, the work triangle is the space between the 3 major elements in your kitchen, the fridge, stove, and sink. These elements should be positioned close to each other while still leaving some space for each appliance. 

A U shaped kitchen can also offer quite a fit of cabinet and counter space which helps make use of the space in an efficient many. This is especially true when compared to other common layouts like galley or L-shaped kitchens. 

 small U shaped kitchen designs

Common benefits of large and small U shaped kitchen designs include: 

  • Appliances can be placed within close reach of one another
  • Offers an efficient and flexible design
  • Allows there to be more than one cook in the kitchen
  • Maximize space with wall cabinets and built-in appliances 
  • Decent amount of countertop space
  • Chance to incorporate a seating or dining area in the design

The Different Kinds of U-shaped Kitchen Layouts

When you start to design your U shaped kitchen remodel, one of the crucial things that you have to consider is the workflow. This is why the work triangle is oftentimes stressed so much when it comes to kitchen designs. In order to get a functional design, it’s best to have your stove, sink, and fridge placed on adjacent walls and counters. By placing your sink and fridge at the tips of the “U”, you won’t have to break up your counter space. 

Ideally, placing your sink under a window can help create the illusion of having a larger kitchen while also adding some natural lighting while you’re cooking or washing dishes. 

The tips below can help you decide on the ideal kind of U shaped kitchen designs for your kitchen, despite its size. 

U-shaped Kitchen With a Peninsula

Having a U-shaped kitchen with a peninsula is perfect if you enjoy entertaining or want to have a place where you can eat quick meals. It’s also a practical way to get more storage space. You can utilize one of the legs of your U-shaped design by turning it into a bar peninsula. This is done by not connecting one of the legs to a wall which creates a counter area to which you can add seating. You can use the peninsula for eating meals, having drinks, or entertaining. 


Adding a peninsula is also ideal for larger kitchens. It’s a great modern U shaped kitchen touch that is still functional since you can use the storage and countertop space as needed. If you want to define your kitchen in an open floor plan, a peninsula is a great solution. 

Small U-shaped Kitchen Layout

In a small kitchen, you can maximize the space that you have with a U-shaped layout. While small kitchens typically mean less storage and counter space, you can compromise with a small u shaped kitchen design and get the most out of the size. 

U-shaped Kitchen With a Peninsula

Medium U-shaped Kitchen Layout

A U shaped kitchen design might be just what you need if you have a medium-size kitchen. You will easily be able to have two cooks in the kitchen at the same time with this layout and you’ll be able to have the ideal counter and storage space that you need. 

Unlike small U shaped kitchen layouts, most medium-size kitchens have 6 feet between the two counters that face each other. With this layout, you can have enough walking and standing room in the kitchen without having to sacrifice storage or counter space. 

Large U-shaped Kitchen Layout

Large U-shaped Kitchen Layout

With a large kitchen, the options are endless. However, one of the benefits of incorporating a U-shaped kitchen layout is the fact that you’ll have the chance of adding an island. Most large kitchens with this kind of U shaped kitchen layout dimensions, they’ll have about 8 feet in between the facing counters. This leaves enough room for an island or even a countertop extension that can leave you with a “G” shape instead of a “U” shape. If you decide against an island, you can consider adding a dining table in the center.

How to Make Your U-Shaped Kitchen Layout Stylish and Functional

The design of your kitchen should be both stylish and functional. If you’re looking for different ways to incorporate your own personal touch and some different styles, you might want to consider a few of the following U shaped kitchen ideas

Pick the Right Color Scheme

Your small u shaped kitchen with an island will likely benefit from a lighter color scheme. Consider using colors like white or cream as the main tone with a few accent colors that are either darker or brighter. Using lighter and paler colors can expand the appearance of the space and reflect light which can create the illusion of a larger kitchen. 

small u shaped kitchen with island

You can choose between different accent colors that can just be either one consistent color or various shades of a single color that is added in small points around the kitchen in order to create the ideal look. You might want to consider different shades of grey, a few splashes of pastel green, or even a bright coral color for the tiny U shaped kitchen designs, accessories, lighting, and appliances. 

If you don’t want to overdo the design with white, you can incorporate dark colors on your lower cabinets and contrast the darkness with lighter colors on the wall cabinets. With a large kitchen, you’re not going to be limited when it comes to light which is why dark colors can be the perfect statement color. When picking dark colors, consider black, dark tones of grey, green, or blue. 

Add Lighting

With a U-shaped kitchen, natural light will easily flow through, unlike with narrower kitchen designs. This kind of kitchen can also benefit from artificial light fixtures when they’re well-placed. You can choose from recessed lighting to illuminate the kitchen or even track lighting to focus on specific areas. 

U-shaped kitchen

Adding LED lighting under the cabinets can also help to define the kitchen while also lighting up those dark corners. Under-counter lighting also works great if you have a modern glass countertop as it gives the kitchen wow factor that it might need. 

With enough natural light, you can avoid having your kitchen feel dull or dark. Adding more light in small spaces can help make the kitchen look and feel bigger. 

Add Some Extras

A few extra details in your U-shaped kitchen can definitely bring together the entire design. You can add extras that will make your kitchen more appealing, functional, modern, and more. Here are a few options for extras that you can consider: 

  • Add a Kitchen Island

If you have a wider U-shaped kitchen, you can always break up space by adding an island in the middle. With U shaped kitchen designs with island, you’ll be able to get more storage space, counter space, and have an area that you can utilize when entertaining. A kitchen island is ideal if you’re interested in having the kitchen be the center of your home. 

long U shaped kitchen

Typically, a slim and long U shaped kitchen island will be the ideal choice for this kind of layout since you’ll still have room on all sides to walk around. You can have extra cabinets installed in the base of the island and utilize the top to prepare food and more. 

A kitchen island can also double as a dining spot or U shaped kitchen designs with breakfast bar. In order to incorporate this kind of style, you’re going to want to leave an extended side of the island so that you can keep stools underneath. 

  • Add a Breakfast Peninsula

Not every kitchen will have the space to add an island, but if you’re still interested in having a dining space, you can add a peninsula. In order to do this, you’ll have to extend the counter space from one of the ends of the “U”. You’ll be able to keep some stools tucked underneath whenever they’re not in use. 

When you have an open floor plan and a U shaped kitchen with peninsula, you can have a breakfast bar installed on the outside of the counters as this will keep the dining area out of the way from anyone that is cooking. 

  • Add a Statement Wall

With a U-shaped design, you’ll have the perfect place to add a statement wall and that’s at the bottom of the “U” shape. In U shaped kitchen floor plans, that’s typically where the window would be located, but it’s also the wall that will break up the room and draw attention without completely dominating the room. 

U shaped kitchen floor plans

You can combine different colored kitchen units with contrasting colors on the wall for a more contemporary look. Even incorporating white and wooden units along with a yellow color for a more cheerful and farmhouse vibe. If you want to take things to the next level, you can explore different patterns. It can be bold patterned wallpaper or something more subtle. 

Choose the Right Cabinet Style

Picking the right kind of U shaped kitchen cabinet design is key for a kitchen. For most U-shaped kitchen designs, Shaker cabinets are the way to go. They offer a no-fuss style that is both appealing and practical. When you choose a simple cabinet style, you’ll be able to ensure that your kitchen doesn’t feel too distracting. Instead, you can have people focus on the other elements like the hardware on the cabinets, the floors, and the rest of the kitchen finishes. In terms of color, white or light grey U shaped kitchen cabinets are an ideal modern choice that can make your kitchen feel spacious and bright. 

Ditch the Hardware

This is one of the best U shaped kitchen design ideas when you’re looking to make your kitchen more minimalistic and appear larger. Skipping the hardware will help reduce the clutter on your countertops while also giving your cabinets a cleaner look and emphasizing clean lines. Plus, ditching the cabinet knobs and pulls can save you money. Instead of hardware, make sure that your cabinets have an appealing visual effect. 

Opt for Simplicity

U shaped kitchen renovations

You might want to consider a simplistic style for your kitchen, especially if it has a small U-shaped design. Choose a more subdued color palette with a few simple finishes to create a relaxing and appealing space for your cooking and preparing meals. In a small design, you can achieve the maximum amount of simplicity when you have wall cabinets installed on two walls while leaving the back wall open or simply installing a couple of shelves. This will also prevent the kitchen from feeling cramped. 

Maximize Your Space

Maximizing your kitchen space is crucial no matter what size of kitchen you have. With U shaped kitchen renovations, you can do just that, but there’s a bit more to consider than just the overall layout. It’s important for you to also determine the kind of storage you’ll add to tricky corners and more. Utilizing pull-out storage mechanisms can go a long way and ensure that there are no spaces that are forgotten.




Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.