L-shaped kitchens - ideas, tips and inspiration

An expert guide to L-shaped kitchens, including practical tips, design inspiration and everything you need to know for creating a stylish kitchen built for your space…

What is an L-shaped kitchen

Also known as a corner kitchen, an L-shaped kitchen is normally laid out at right angles along two adjacent walls in a corner of the room, in the shape of the letter ‘L’. A classic L-shaped kitchen features a range of cabinets and appliances along the two rows of the L-shape, leaving an open area which can be used for a seating area or kitchen island.

The L-shape is an alternative to the other most common layout, the U-shaped kitchen, where the cabinets and appliances are arranged along three adjoining walls in a horseshoe shape. U-shaped kitchens are generally associated with larger spaces, while the L-shape is good for opening up space in a smaller room.

(See also: U-shaped kitchens - ideas, tips and inspiration)

What are the advantages of the L-shape layout?

The L-shaped layout is good for maximising the kitchen space available for storage, cooking and dining. The benefits of the design include:

  • Practicality - with two walls for housing cabinets and worktops, an L-shaped kitchen offers plenty of practical storage and preparation space, while still maintaining an open feel, making it a great option for a smaller kitchen while also allowing the space to be opened up to other living areas
  • Good ergonomics and accessibility – L-shaped kitchens are accessible and easy to navigate, with everything within easy reach. The L-shaped layout makes it easy to create an efficient ‘kitchen work triangle’ between the cooker, sink and refrigerator, and is ideal for a busy family kitchen
  • Flexibility – an L-shaped design is easy to customise and suits most sizes and styles of kitchen, from traditional family kitchens to small apartment kitchens and large contemporary open-plan kitchen/dining/living spaces.
The L-shaped Blenheim Kitchen combines a vibrant green and pink colour scheme with luxurious exposed walnut, useful kitchen island seating, and lots of clever storage solutions

Planning an L-shaped kitchen: the "kitchen work triangle"

An L-shaped layout can be adapted to suit all sorts of different kitchen spaces. Whether you’re looking for a warm traditional feel or a sleek contemporary vibe, you can create an L-shaped kitchen that works for you.

At the planning stage, bear in mind the kitchen work triangle. This long-established kitchen design concept recommends that the three key working areas of the kitchen – the cooker, sink and refrigerator – should form an imaginary triangle, with each element being placed within easy distance of the others (but not too close!), to help make the kitchen as comfortable and efficient to use as possible.

L-shaped kitchen ideas and inspiration

With some careful planning, you can create an L-shaped kitchen that’s practical, stylish and fun to spend time in. Here are some tips and ideas for creating an L-shaped kitchen that works for you, together with some examples from the Naked Kitchens portfolio to inspire you…

1) Maximise the storage potential with smart design

Generous storage space in the L-shaped Guildford Kitchen means that there is plenty of clear surface space.

An L-shaped kitchen offers plenty of capacity for storage, starting with multiple base and wall units placed along the two lengths of the L-shape. The Guildford Kitchen (above and below) features a long run of base cabinets with oak J-groove fronts, teamed with a set of glazed wall cabinets in rich Oyster Black, smart black appliances, floating shelving and a concrete-effect quartz worktop, adding depth and interest and a stylish, contemporary feel.

Open shelving and glazed cabinets in the Guildford Kitchen provide more storage space as well as the visual interest

You can make the most of the vertical space in an L-shaped kitchen, and help to keep things neat and clutter-free, by including taller cabinetry, including floor-to-ceiling units and integrated larders.

Adding in some open shelving and glazed wall units can help to break up a bank of cabinets and add interest and character, while smart storage solutions such as a pull-out corner caddy or carousel will help to make the most of the corner space in an L-shaped kitchen.

2) Add in a breakfast bar or peninsula

The New Brighton kitchen features a peninsula breakfast bar which provides useful seating and worktop space

An L-shaped kitchen layout lends itself to the inclusion of a breakfast bar at the end of one of the runs, which can double up as an eating and food preparation area, or even a working space.

Featured in George Clarke’s Old House, New Home, the New Brighton kitchen (above) includes beautiful exposed oak Shaker doors and a peninsula breakfast bar which extends outwards from the wall and helps to define the kitchen as an area in its own right, while also linking it to the wider space.

3) Make your kitchen a social hub with a central island

The kitchen island in the Heathwood Gardens Kitchen: the overhang allows for comfortable seating, making the island the social hub of the home.

A generous, well-designed kitchen island can provide a brilliant focal point for dining and socialising in a larger L-shaped kitchen (while also giving you useful additional worktop and storage space). The Heathwood Gardens Kitchen (above) includes a fabulous kitchen island which echoes the simple minimalism of the dark blue cabinetry and white marble worktops throughout the rest of the kitchen, creating an inviting family space.

The island includes open painted shelving for storage and display, and plenty of seating space for entertaining. A row of three pendant lights suspended over the island completes the look, and supplements the natural light coming from the skylight above.

4) Create a centrepiece with a feature appliance

The L-shaped Raynham kitchen boasts a beautiful double Aga with traditional features

As well as working with contemporary kitchen designs, an L-shaped kitchen layout can also work beautifully as part of a more traditional setting. The Raynham kitchen (above) boasts a range of classic Shaker style cabinets interspersed with a large open shelf unit, while a stunning double Aga takes centre-stage, complete with traditional features including corbels, beading and cornicing.

While offering a classic kitchen farmhouse look, the units conceal a range of integrated appliances and smart modern storage solutions, including pegboard drawers, slide and hide trays, and a double larder with integral spice rack, wicker pull-outs and beautiful engraved drawer boxes – offering the best of both worlds.

5) Make a statement with a vibrant colour scheme

The Beach House kitchen mixes bold blues with bright whites and dark appliances

An L-shaped kitchen offers an ideal opportunity to introduce some bold colours, without overwhelming the space. The Beach House kitchen (above) features a series of base cabinets in a vibrant blue along two sides, which work beautifully against the bright white walls, black shelving and appliances, and the dark wooden floors, creating a stunning contemporary look.

At Naked Kitchens we can help build the perfect kitchen for your life. Find out how to get started here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an L-shaped layout good for a small kitchen?

Yes, an L-shaped kitchen layout is an excellent choice for a small kitchen, as the efficient corner design optimises the available space, allowing for the inclusion of plenty of cabinets and worktop space along the two walls, without making things feel too enclosed.

Can you have a kitchen island in an L-shaped kitchen?

Absolutely – as long as the overall space allows, an L-shaped kitchen layout offers plenty of scope for including a kitchen island. A bespoke kitchen island will make a lovely focal point and can be customised to fit your requirements, including extra practical space for storage, food preparation and dining.

Does an L-shaped kitchen work in an open-plan space?

One of the great things about an L-shaped kitchen is it can be adapted to suit most kinds of space. An L-shaped layout is a clever way of defining a kitchen area within an open-plan space, while also providing a visual flow between the two.

See Also

U-shaped kitchens - ideas, tips and inspiration

The Kitchen Work Triangle - An Expert Guide

Small but beautiful: A complete guide to designing and maximising the space in a small kitchen.

Clever bespoke kitchen storage solutions - 11 ingenious ideas to inspire you

Kitchen ergonomics: 5 clever ways to make your kitchen design more efficient

Kitchens Unbound: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Duncan House kitchen

Kitchens Unbound: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Duncan House kitchen

Contemporary Shaker kitchens – how a traditional cabinet style can look very modern

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Unusual kitchen colours – tips, ideas and inspiration

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