How to Turn Narrow Galley Kitchen Into an Small Family Space


Sometimes adding on is the only way to achieve a kitchen that meets your needs. This was the case when a family of six needed more space and functionality than their galley-style kitchen could provide. The result is a combined kitchen, butler’s pantry, home office, and mudroom with zones for cookware, electronics, paperwork, and sports equipment.

Storage space in the kitchen more than doubled thanks to careful placement of cabinets and appliances. For example, extending the kitchen cabinets to the ceiling means less-used items can be stored out of sight on the upper shelves. A double oven range and additional wall oven let the homeowners easily prepare meals for family or larger groups. Garbage disposals in each of the kitchen sinks allow for prep work and cleanup in both areas. The refrigerator is sited near the range, while the trimmer freezer is placed outside the work triangle. Pullout garbage drawers in multiple locations facilitate recycling and help keep the space tidy.

The design of the butler’s pantry was born of necessity because it contains a load-bearing wall that could not be removed. The result is a partially open corridor that connects the kitchen to the office and mudroom areas. Day to day, the butler’s pantry serves as an attractive passage to the home’s work and utility areas; when the homeowners entertain, it becomes party central, housing the stereo system and transforming into a full-service bar.

The office hosts the family’s main computer and has ample storage for essentials such as school papers and household records. Its proximity to the kitchen hub makes it a great place for family members to check e-mail or do homework while feeling connected to the action.

Galley kitchen island.
Galley kitchen island.
Kitchen spaces.
Kitchen spaces.
  • Glass fronts on cabinets near the dishwasher showcase attractive stoneware the family regularly uses. The two slim drawers below ensure easy access to napkins, dishcloths, and towels.
  • Cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, creating plenty of storage. A tambour-style cabinet to the left of the sink opens for easy access to small appliances.
  • A refrigerator with a cabinet-style front is a step from the range, creating a convenient work triangle.
  • A spacious island with seating for three anchors the kitchen, offering space for kids or guests to sit comfortably while leaving plenty of room for food preparation on the other side.
  • Deep drawers like this one beneath the wall oven hold nested cookware and assorted culinary gear.
  • A tiled ledge behind the range holds favorite oils and adds architectural interest.
  • A pantry with pullout shelves allows views of all the dry and canned goods in the cabinet box, not just the items in front. A shallow rack attached to the inside of the pantry door keeps frequently used items and condiments close at hand.
  • The food pantry wall has three identical-size doors; two hide the pantry and the third covers a stand-alone freezer. The cabinetry’s dark stain signals the transition to the butler’s pantry, office, and mudroom, which are accessed to the left.
Kitchen multifunctional small family space - 4 photos.
Kitchen multifunctional small family space – 4 photos.
  • A butler’s pantry with refrigerator drawers, an icemaker, and a wine cooler facilitates easy entertaining. Because of its small size, finishes, like the diamond mesh on the upper cabinet fronts, can be more extravagant.
  • Drawers in the butler’s pantry are dedicated to candles, linens, silver, and serving platters.
  • The sound system for the entire home is controlled from the cabinet in the butler’s pantry. The other cabinets hold wineglasses and barware.
  • Office space at the far end of the kitchen is a convenient place for working online or completing homework while staying connected to the main gathering space at the kitchen island.
Narrow small family space - 3 photos.
Narrow small family space – 3 photos.

Zone planning

This kitchen addition seamlessly transitions into well-defined areas for cooking, eating, and studying.

Galley kitchen planning.
Galley kitchen planning.

1. Cook

A range with double ovens, a wall oven, abundant counter space, and a built-in pantry make this area ideal for a homeowner who likes to cook.

2. Gather

The island brings folks together. Guests enjoy comfortable seating, while the cook has plenty of room to use the sink, drawers, and prep area opposite.

3. Entertain

The butler’s pantry houses serving pieces, glassware, and other supplies. An icemaker, wine cooler, and sound system make hosting a cinch.

4. Work

The office features a shared computer station and plenty of drawers for sorting parents’ paperwork and kids’ supplies for homework projects.