Kitchen Planning: How to Make the Most of a Single-wall Kitchen
The single-wall kitchen is brilliant for compact spaces – and often more affordable than other layouts to install
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While its small footprint might at first seem to be a drawback, the single-wall kitchen encroaches less on an adjoining living space compared with other layouts, freeing up more space for you outside the kitchen. This open-plan arrangement, pictured, is typical for a single-wall layout, and complements contemporary open-plan living.
Generally designed so that only one person can cook at a time, this layout’s limitation makes the kitchen very safe, while still convenient for others to access. It’s important to keep this sociable aspect in mind when planning a one-wall kitchen to ensure a design that will accommodate the users’ needs and lifestyle.
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With any kitchen, careful planning is important, but it’s even more so when space is limited, as it is in this layout. Typically (but not always), a single-wall kitchen includes a fridge on the far end of the kitchen run. This would have the sink next to it, with worktop space on either side and your dishwasher and storage beneath. The oven and hob are usually located on the far side of this. Again, there should be worktop space on either side of the hob/oven to allow you to safely land food after cooking. Further storage space would be provided beneath.
Alternatively, as long as they don’t block the light source, you might have tall units ‘bookending’ the kitchen. This would usually include an oven in tall housing on one side and a fridge-freezer on the other.
Above the base units there’s usually a run of wall units, sometimes with a tall unit at one or both ends. Your extractor and extractor housing (if applicable) are also both located in this run. The wall units might stretch the full length of the wall.
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Alternatively, you could break up wall units with an extractor fan or open shelving. Open shelving on the wall to the left or right of the kitchen is another option, and will be decorative as well as practical.
Depending on the available space, another option is to introduce a run of bridging units along the top of your wall cupboards. These usually have tall units on either side. Apart from extra storage, this creates a sunken effect for the wall units through subtle changes in depth. The lower wall units are 350mm in depth, while the units above are 650mm. The overall feel of this is a framed kitchen look, or else a feature wall effect.
With this arrangement, it’s best to store less-frequently used items in the top row of cupboards, and invest in a foldaway footstool for access. As pictured, you can also match your kitchen cupboard and wall colours for a seamless look to your kitchen and dining or living space.
Storage is important in any kitchen, large or small, but it’s particularly key with a single-wall kitchen, where there are fewer units than in other layouts.
Ensuring generous cupboard space is a must, but also consider whether there’s potential for more storage elsewhere in the kitchen. The designer of this small cook space has cleverly added additional storage underneath the seating area, as well as packing more in with additional wall units above it.
The furniture outside the immediate kitchen area has also been designed in the same finish to unite the spaces and create a fluid look. This approach is becoming increasingly popular for open-plan spaces, too, where homeowners want to achieve a feeling of continuity between their kitchen and living areas.
Though a single-wall kitchen may be small, this doesn’t mean you can’t include the appliances you want. Many modern kitchen appliances are specifically designed for small spaces: for example, you can find integrated compact dishwashers at 45cm wide compared to the standard 60cm models. The same applies for compact ovens, microwaves, steam ovens and warming drawers.
In an open-plan arrangement, it also pays to choose your appliances wisely and ensure you go for less noisy models. This way, if your washing machine or extractor fan is on, you’ll receive far less objection from the person watching TV or reading in the adjoining space.
When planning your kitchen layout, it’s worth exploring whether you have space to add an island parallel to your single-wall kitchen. With careful planning, this will enhance the layout.
It can also mean the single-wall layout will work for larger spaces as, in effect, it reconfigures it into a galley kitchen with the same functionality. While this depends on the space and how you want to use it, generally speaking the additional work surface and storage an island introduces is extremely beneficial.
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If a kitchen island won’t fit, you might consider adding a table, both for dining and as an extra work surface. Aside from the obvious benefits this brings, a table can also mark a distinction between the kitchen and living room, creating a feel that they are two separate spaces.
Other ways you might achieve this same effect are through a breakfast bar with stools (great for entertaining guests) or a change in the flooring between each area.
It might be that you want unfussy cabinets to effect a clean and understated kitchen look. This is always a popular choice, but it can also be used to highlight a different aspect of your kitchen, as with the stone feature wall pictured here, which stands out more than the minimal white units.
On the other hand, these layouts are ideal if you want to make the single-wall kitchen itself the focal point. It might be that you contrast it to the rest of your room with a bold splash of colour in the cabinetry. Alternatively, you might opt for statement shelving or a distinctive splashback.
Whatever your preference, the single-wall kitchen layout is definitely worth considering if you have a small space and are trying to work out the best kitchen layout for it. Although small in size, there’s far more to this layout than may first appear, and lots of workable options to ensure you can make it just right for you.
Do you have a single-wall kitchen? If so, how do you make yours work well for you? Share your tips and photos in the Comments below.