Video: Creating an Efficient Cabinet Layout

Webinar Wednesday Episode 2

How To Create An Efficient Kitchen Design


Our Guest this week is Emily Woods from Woods Design House

We had a great conversation about kitchen design standards, ergonimic kitchen design and how best update your kitchen for maximum efficiency. 

Watch the Replay: 

Notes from the Video:


The Ideal Kitchen Layout

You would think after hundreds of years of building houses we would have agreed on the best way to design a kitchen.  Kitchen design is deeply personal so the best approach is to design each kitchen for the user. 

There are well know standard and guidelines to follow but a truly efficient kitchen needs to be tailored to your needs. 

If you’re building a new home, you can choose the kitchen layout you like best but when remodeling, you might be stuck with the shape of your kitchen. What you can do is maximize the utility and beauty of your kitchen regardless of the kitchen layout you have.

Start with Standards

There are well-known standards in kitchen design, though arguably not many builders or designers are putting them into good use.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association have been publishing kitchen and bath standards since 1963. I took my first NKBA course in 1999 and have found their guidelines extremely useful over the years.

The NKBA standards are a great guideline, though its important to realize when you need to break or bend the rules, especially when remodeling.


The Work Triangle vs Work Zones

The work triangle is the path you take when cooking and moving from the refrigerator, to the sink, to the stove. The work triangle used to be the gold standard when it came to kitchen design. No leg of the triangle was supposed to be longer than 60 inches.

The problem with the work triangle today is kitchens have gotten bigger and are used for much more than just cooking. Today kitchens are usually better designed by creating work zones. The zones you create are really a function of how you use your kitchen but some common ones are:

  • Zone 1: Cooking/cleaning/prep – typically for dinner and for prepping lunches
    • Utensil storage, plates and glasses, and pot/pan storage is usually organized in this zone
  • Zone 2: Coffee/Breakfast  – Morning meals are usually quick and simple. It’s nice to keep this zone a little outside zone 1.
  • Zone 3: Food Storage – separate pantry storage is essential
  • Zone 4: Seating/entertaining – keep guests in the kitchen but out of your way

You might also have a baking zone or office area. We’ve even done a TV area in the kitchen. They key to think about how you use the kitchen and design around that.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Kitchen Layout

L-Shaped Kitchens




  • Efficient use of space and usually an open floor plan allowing easy interactions to the next room.
  • Most versatile kitchen layout.
  • Minimizes foot traffic and is perfect for families.


  • Require the addition of an island to increase storage.
  • Not ideal for a larger kitchen (best in a space that’s connected to another room).

Remodel Options:

  • Add an Island for more counter space and a seating area
  • Extend wall cabinets to the ceiling for more storage 


  • Plenty of cabinet storage space.
  • Can easily divide the kitchen into multiple work zones
  • No through traffic to disrupt work zones.
  • Layout works best for kitchens that are 10 to 18-feet wide.


  • Can feel cramped.
  • Work zones can be too far apart

Remodel Options

  • Get rid of some upper cabinets and replace them with open shelves to make the space feel more open
  • Add an island if space permits
  • Add tall cabinets to one end of the U

U-Shaped Kitchens


G-Shaped Kitchen



  • Allows for plenty of cabinet storage options
  • Continuous counter space surrounding you on three plus sides.


  • Enclosed from the rest of the house.
  • Compact and closed in.

Remodel Options

Sometimes a wall can be taken down or opening created. In large kitchens, an island could possibly be added.



  • All appliances and ingredients easy to reach. Perfect Zone 1 layout
  • Space more flexible where extra free standing carts or tables can move easily.


  • Limited counter space and difficult for multiple cooks to work together at same time.
  • Lack of storage space as compared to other kitchen arrangements.

Remodel Options

Add a rolling island or work cart is a good solution. 


Single Wall Kitchen 


Galley Kitchen



  • Efficient and functional style of layout with everything in grasp.
  • No corner base cabinets in this arrangement.


  • Can be tight and not well lit because of their narrowness.
  • Traffic may cause congestion in the kitchen.

If your galley kitchen feels closed in, find out if you can remove a wall or create an opening. If you need more cabinet storage, try stacking cabinets or turning a door cabinet into a drawer cabinet. 


There are countless options when considering a kitchen remodel. Read this article I recently wrote about kitchen remodels. Take your current layout into consideration with your kitchen designer to determine if you want to work within the confines of your current space, reconfigure or remove walls, add an island, or find other options to add cabinet storage. Islands can be designed, to fit your personal style, in all shapes and sizes. Give us a call to help determine the best course of action for your project. Find out how to enhance kitchen cabinet layouts with the right cabinetry! Read this article to find out what questions we ask and how our remodeling process works.

McManus Kitchen and Bath provides design, product selection and construction services all under one roof to make it easier for you create a happy, healthy home.  

Each project starts with a Design and Budget Consult to help you clarify your design ideas and create a Good Better Best Budget for your project. 

Estimate from a Remodeling Contractor

Schedule A Design and Budget Consult

  • Clarify Your Design Ideas with 3D Renderings
  • Detailed Estimate of Materials and Labor
  • Explore material and fixture options in our showroom