How to Fall In Love With Your U-shaped Kitchen

Kitchen Remodeling
Decoration and Design
Additions and Remodels
By Alex Mikayelyan September 09, 2021

Practicality and efficiency are priorities when it comes to designing a kitchen, and few layouts exceed the U-shaped. Making use of all the space you have is very important when designing any room, but this is especially true in the kitchen, which is more utilitarian by nature than other rooms. 

The U-shaped kitchen, sometimes referred to as the horseshoe kitchen (or just the U kitchen), is great for those who want to keep their kitchen as open as possible and still have plenty of working space. One problem that other kitchen layouts come across is how the countertops get more crowded with each new appliance or too busy when a big dinner is underway. As a result, homeowners are sometimes relegated to taking their prep and cooking to other work surfaces, like the dining table or into the living room.

Whether you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen into a U-shaped layout or already have one that needs sprucing up, there are quite a few features it offers that are worth taking advantage of.

Working With a U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

Optimize The Available Space In Your Kitchen

Optimize The Available Space In Your Kitchen

There is a reason why the U-shaped kitchen is one of the most widely applied kitchen layouts: there are many advantages to the way it is set up. Being able to optimize the available space is one of the biggest advantages of the U-shaped kitchen. If your kitchen is square the U-shaped kitchen will fit perfectly into every corner, covering as much of the surface area as possible. By taking full advantage of the walls and freeing up space in the middle of the room, even a small U-shaped kitchen will seem larger than it actually is.

The open design of the horseshoe kitchen allows homeowners to get more creative with the additions they can make to it. For example, U-shaped kitchens with islands as centerpieces are quite popular. You can also vary the design to accommodate a peninsula or substantial island countertop to make even more use of the available space as well. It’s really all up to you; the U-shaped kitchen opens up plenty of chances for more customization. 

Ease of access is also very important in any kitchen. The U-shaped kitchen is laid out in such a way that you have access to most cabinets and drawers when standing from any spot in the kitchen — so no knives flying about when reaching to grab an onion while the garlic browns.

Design Tips for a U Kitchen

Putting utility aside, a few great U-shaped kitchen ideas can make for a very attractive addition to your home. Many interior designers have created some true eye-candy U-shaped kitchens which leave guests breathless as they enter.  

Brighten Things Up

Lighter Colors to Fill the Expanse of Your U Kitchen

Lighter Colors to Fill the Expanse of Your U Kitchen

When you slave over the stove for hours on end and have a million other responsibilities to take care of, the last thing you need to see is a dreary kitchen. Why keep your kitchen gloomy when you can give it that extra spunk and brightness which will, in turn, reflect onto you? While more contemporary or minimalist designs tend to prefer darker and more muted colors, there is much to be said about a bright kitchen atmosphere.

Repaint your cupboards with brighter colors, bring in more powerful lighting and your day-to-day experience in the kitchen will become significantly more pleasant. The U-shape will work with your efforts to brighten things up, since the extra space in the middle of the room will serve as more space for light to travel through.

Shine and Dine

Using Darker Hues to Bring Out the Light In the Kitchen

Using Darker Hues to Bring Out the Light In the Kitchen

Kitchens are primarily used for cooking and cleaning but that hasn’t stopped anyone from obsessing over how chic their kitchen will look. U-shaped kitchens allow for many opportunities to get creative with the design. From accent tile walls to light fixtures with a smooth gold finish, the U kitchen can accommodate almost any interior design aesthetic.

Whatever theme you choose, some techniques that can accentuate the advantages of this layout are richer, darker colors to highlight the lighter areas of the kitchen. This not only creates some much-needed contrast and heterogeneity, but it is also stylish and sleek. With some added shiny details, like metal handles, you’re well on your way to spending most of your day in a beautiful and harmonious setting.

Mixing Colors and Textures

Contrasting Colors Add Texture and Character To Your Kitchen

Contrasting Colors Add Texture and Character To Your Kitchen

A great way to keep the eyes busy yet not overwhelm them is with the use of contrasting colors. This can be a great technique to utilize in larger U-shaped kitchens, where too much overdone white kitchen vibes may make things uninteresting for the eyes. Most modern color palettes include more muted colors and textures, allowing the shapes and forms to do most of the talking in terms of interior design. But more classic interior designs are still very much popular and wooden textures are still quite widespread. 

Making use of both the color and natural textures like that of wood helps to add variety and character. If you really want to elevate the organic energy in your kitchen, consider wooden, butcher block countertops. 

How to Make Your U-Shaped Kitchen Look Bigger

As with any space, to make the most of your U-shaped kitchen, try to utilize all the space that is available and work with what you have. There are some design and DIY techniques for increasing the space in your U-shaped kitchen, both physically and visually.

Breakfast Bar

Bring Down One of the Walls In Your U-Shaped Kitchen for Added Dining Space

Bring Down One of the Walls In Your U-Shaped Kitchen for Added Dining Space

One major disadvantage of the U-shaped kitchen is that having cupboards on three of the four walls around the room can be very straining both in terms of visuals and physical space. Consider breaking down the top half of one of the walls connected to an adjacent room and turning that counter into a breakfast bar. While more popular in the peninsula kitchen layout, a breakfast bar that frees up one of the walls in the horseshoe kitchen is a great way to open up the room visually. 

This counter can also then be used for cooking and prepping with added natural light. They say “form follows function”, but in this case the change in form creates function, opening up plenty of opportunities for a multifunctional and brighter kitchen.

Open a Window

Add a Window for A Transformed and Airier Kitchen

Add a Window for A Transformed and Airier Kitchen

Adding a window to your kitchen may not be available to everyone for structural reasons such as the wall being a load-bearing one. But if you do have access to an external wall and have enough room to spare, adding a window can change everything. The added natural light will be well worth the dust from the window installation process.

While they do not add to the physical space in your kitchen, windows can make the kitchen airier, allowing for more light to come into the room and illuminate it in its entirety. Many people have the chance to create a window in their kitchen wall but tend to overlook this opportunity as they feel that it will take too much time and resources. However, with a veteran contractor, mason, and glazier by your side, you should have no problem opening up an extra window, allowing for fresh air and sunlight to fill the kitchen.

Optimizing the Cabinets, Cupboards, and Drawers

Make Your Kitchen Bigger by Optimizing Storage

Make Your Kitchen Bigger by Optimizing Storage

One problem many homeowners have with their kitchens is accumulating too much stuff permanently housed on countertops, limiting the workspace. If you have a busy kitchen, you cannot get rid of these appliances, nor can you store them in a different room as you need them to be ready for use when cooking.

However, you can optimize your cabinets, cupboards, or drawers to accommodate more storage space. From retractable shelves inside the cabinets to hooks that can be attached to the cupboard doors for extra storage, and adding heights to drawers, there are many ways you can create a home for some of the kitchen supplies getting in the way while you work. A small u-shaped kitchen especially appreciates free countertop space, and you will appreciate the absence of clutter.

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan