L-shaped kitchen ideas – a classic layout for all spaces

L-shaped kitchens are practical, concise and look great. These inspiring L-shaped kitchen ideas will work in any sized space

An example of L-shaped kitchen ideas illustrated in a large white and exposed brick scheme with banquette seating.
(Image credit: Future)

L-shaped kitchen ideas work whether a space is a small, medium or large. L-shaped layouts work with both contemporary and traditional cabinetry, and the form is flexible enough to adapt to structural needs, such as sloping ceilings or large windows.

As with all kitchen ideas (opens in new tab), your choices are to a great extent dictated by the shape and size of your room, but that doesn’t mean you have to be restricted when it comes to designing your ideal kitchen layouts (opens in new tab).

Inspiring L-shaped kitchen ideas

We've rounded up a selection of our favorite L-shaped kitchen ideas to help you decide if this is the right layout for you.

1. Utilise an L shape in an open plan kitchen

L-shaped kitchen ideas in an open plan room with banquette seating

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Just as our expectations of the kitchen have changed radically over the last 20 years, kitchen layouts have evolved to suit. 

You may hear designers refer to the ‘work triangle’ – the arrangement of the key work stations of fridge, sink and cooker in this pattern, which cuts down on the distance travelled when prepping and cooking. 

The work triangle is still used, but it’s not as dominant as it once was; there is a move to a more linear approach in modern kitchen ideas (opens in new tab), inspired by the long work benches of the restaurant kitchen. 

Of course, ergonomics are not the only deciding factor. Room shape and size play a vital part. Sometimes your only option in small kitchens (opens in new tab) is to opt for a galley kitchen (opens in new tab)

Lifestyle and aesthetics are also important factors – an open plan kitchen (opens in new tab) for example has to look fabulous as it’s always on show.

If space allows, a built-in banquette in the shape of an L, like the one above, could be just what your open plan space needs. 

2. Work a narrow space

L-shaped kitchens illustrated in a narrow white room with white cabinetry and blue textile accents.

(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)

The L-shaped kitchen layout is best in long, thin rooms, where space for an island or cabinetry on the opposing wall may not be possible. 

Small kitchen layouts (opens in new tab) do not have to mean a lack of style, however. Open shelving at the end of the L gives an airy, spacious feel to this narrow kitchen.

3. Incorporate an L-shaped layout in a large kitchen

Large white L-shaped kitchen with exposed brick wall and wooden breakfast bar.

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Fitting your cabinetry, worktops and kitchen storage ideas (opens in new tab) into an L shape leaves the remainder of your kitchen free for you to express yourself. 

The L-shaped layout works exceptionally well in a large kitchen. It is also the ideal layout for an island that doubles up as a breakfast bar.

4. Cook together as a family

A blue tiled L-shaped kitchen with pale gray cabinetry.

(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)

If you enjoy cooking with a partner, family or friends, then an L-shaped kitchen could be the perfect choice for you. 

Key to creating a successful kitchen – for cooking and socialising – is planning. 'The design should be  carefully thought out so as to maximize convenience without blocking the flow of  space,' explains Jane Stewart, design director of Mowlem & Co. The last thing you want is to get in the way of someone else. 

An efficient way to do this is to create zones for each area, with everything needed for prep and cooking in one, and table linen and crockery in the other. 

5. Break up an open space with an L

A large white kitchen with herringbone flooring and dark blue chairs, broken up by L-shaped units.

(Image credit: Future)

Use an L-shaped design to break up an open plan living space. 

Keep the cooking and kitchen chores tightly together in an L, and let the rest of a large room be given over to family life. 

Even the most practical kitchen island ideas (opens in new tab) won’t provide as much preparation and storage space as an L-shaped run of units along the sides of the room would.

6. Make your kitchen flow

L-shaped kitchens example in blue with sky lights and white walls.

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

L-shaped kitchens are one of the most ergonomically accurate kitchen designs in terms of practical and efficient workflow.  

This layout perfectly demonstrates how well an L-shaped kitchen can work within an open plan space that includes a side return kitchen extension (opens in new tab) and casual dining area. 

This scheme is particularly space-efficient and convenient because there is no physical barrier between the kitchen workspace and the dining table – and both areas can share some of the floor space.

7. Go big in your home

A large white L-shaped kitchen with rattan rug and lighting.

(Image credit: Future / Richard Powers)

Create a space that is fit for socialising and large families. 

This layout utilises the two adjoining walls of a room to allow a continuous flow of worktops and cabinets, keep the rest of the space free for an island and dining table.

'L-shaped kitchens are perfect for entertaining, as they are compact yet spacious and allow plenty of room for mingling, or even a spot of dancing with loved ones,' explains the experts at Magnet.

8. Factor in an island, if space allows

Colorful L-shaped kitchens example with blue and white units and colorful decor and accessories.

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

Kitchen trends (opens in new tab) are constantly changing – think broken-plan kitchens (opens in new tab) and zoning – yet classic arrangements that are designed to be ergonomic are still at the heart of the modern kitchen. 

Although L-shaped kitchens work best in narrow spaces, they also work well with an island in bigger rooms, as seen here. You will need at least one metre around the perimeter of any central furniture to make this layout work for you. 

9. Use freestanding furniture to create a false L

An example of how to create L-shaped kitchen ideas with freestanding wooden cabinetry.

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

The ability to try out various layouts to find out what truly works reduces the pressure to get your kitchen right first time. 

There’s also a great deal of reassurance to be found in the knowledge that a freestanding kitchen can be configured in different ways to meet your family’s changing needs. There is just something beautifully chaotic yet cozy about this broken L-shaped kitchen. 

What can I do with an L-shaped kitchen?

If you're wondering what you can do with an L-shaped kitchen, it's important to keep practicality in mind – as with all kitchen designs.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, small L-shaped kitchens can be made to seem larger by opting for pale or neutral-colored cabinetry, which gives an impression of space. Deep kitchen color schemes (opens in new tab) do the opposite, seeming to contract the room, but they are also warming so work well in larger kitchens. 

Open shelving prevents a small kitchen from looking too busy, while banks of cabinets look stunning in a large kitchen as well as providing an abundance of storage.  

Glossy beige kitchen cabinetry and backsplash with a small window and colorful accessories and flowers.

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Whatever the size of your kitchen, the beauty of the L-shaped layout lies in its simplicity and flexibility, and the ease with which it can be adapted to suit practical requirements and different design tastes.

According to Marco Rossi, head of product at Magnet: 'Each main working station should be within a couple of metres of one another – where the fridge, sink and cooker make up a working triangle.'

Sofia Bune Strandh, managing director of Sola Kitchens, agrees. 'L-shaped kitchens make excellent use of space. They are easy to work in since the work triangle can be easily established.'

How do you arrange L-shaped kitchens?

It's also important to think about your day-to-day life in the room, as this will help you arrange an L-shaped kitchen.

An L shape has the potential to be quite an awkward space to work in, especially at the corner point. It’s not the most sociable layout either. 

However, if the hot, wet and prep areas are well spread out, L-shaped kitchens can prove very practical.

Arranging L-shaped kitchens demonstrated in a marble scheme with rustic wood and dark blue cabinetry.

(Image credit: Future / Malcolm Menzies)

When it comes to smaller kitchens, an L-shaped layout is ideal as it concentrates all storage and appliances into two sides of the room, leaving the others free and open, so making the overall space seem bigger. 

For larger kitchens or open plan designs, an L-shaped layout can serve as a divider between cooking and living zones, or as an informal dining area by incorporating casual breakfast bar ideas (opens in new tab) into the bottom of the L shape.

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.