Understanding the Pros and Cons of an L-Shaped IKEA Kitchen

Understanding the Pros and Cons of an L-Shaped IKEA Kitchen

A designer’s review of the common pitfalls of L-shaped kitchens — and how to avoid them.

L-shaped kitchens are very distinctive and formed by your home’s architecture. How will you know? It features two open ends, formed by two sections of adjoining cabinets which forms — you guessed it — an L-shape layout. L-shaped kitchens are ideal for single cooks with small and medium-sized kitchen and very conducive to an open floorplan layout. So for a variety of reasons L-shaped IKEA kitchens are popular. When designed properly they’re adaptable, unique and easy to renovate. If not handled correctly though there can be real challenges for IKEA customers. As experts in all things IKEA, we understand the allure of these layouts from a stylistic and practical standpoint — we just want you to know how the space works best, and what doesn’t, before your kitchen project begins. This is what customer Sherry from Norwich, CT encountered when she and her family needed to renovate the outdated and inefficient kitchen in their new home.

“When our family moved to Connecticut for my husband’s job we found a home with Old World charm that we loved but the L-shaped kitchen needed a major makeover. It had this hideous yellow color with ugly cabinets and no workflow. I’m a baker and our family loves to cook together — and this original kitchen was not it!” she says.

To solve this, IKD designer Merari worked with Sherry to combine IKEA’s SEKTION kitchen system with high-gloss white IKEA RINGHULT upper and base cabinets (including glass-fronted upper doors to display decorative items) as well as an L-shaped island for the family to enjoy meals they’ve prepared together.

That said, L-shaped kitchens really are very versatile. Ideally these designs work best for medium-sized kitchens as this layout only requires two adjacent walls. They also work seamlessly with IKEA’s SEKTION kitchen system as well as IKD’s signature kitchen cabinet hacks to accommodate even the trickiest space configurations.

In professional design hands (ahem!), L-shaped kitchens will simplify the process of cooking and make cleaning up much easier too. There are virtually no obstacles for your workflow with a proper L-shaped kitchen — which makes it safer as well (no more bumping into family members or banging into your countertops while carrying hot food). Otherwise, as you’ll see, it could lead to the worst possible scenario: A kitchen remodel that you don’t enjoy.

That’s why as IKEA experts we believe it’s so important to understand the pros and cons of L-shaped kitchens. It’ll save you time, money and make sure your kitchen is letter perfect — the way it should be.

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The L Word

There are many advantages to L-shaped kitchen designs.

“L-shaped kitchens provide excellent options for storage space. With the right IKEA cabinets, everything can be seen at a glance and accessed easily; including pots, pans, baking sheets and larger items like mixers. L-shaped kitchens are conducive to an organized and efficient workflow,” says IKD designer Daniel.

As we saw with Sherry’s kitchen, it also minimizes foot traffic and is perfect for families. She even created food prep stations on the new island which gives her two young children an opportunity to help mom out when cooking, baking and cleaning up. She also opted to have Merari create an appliance garage for her baking supplies, modifying an 80″ SEKTION/MAXIMERA high pantry cabinet and using 24″ (W) x 30″ (H) IKEA AXSTAD high-gloss white cabinet doors; IKEA UTRUSTA hinges; UTRUSTA door dampers; and lift-up hinges for the bottom doors. Now’s she’s really cooking!

The island is a point of emphasis in L-shaped IKEA kitchens — most people will add one. In smaller and medium-sized kitchens it provides a seating area and storage options (as well as additional options for your electrical sources to plug in those mixers!) In larger kitchens, an island can break up the space in attractive ways; help direct traffic; provide convenient storage, and present the cook with useful countertop work space that borders, but does not hinder.

“Most people like to entertain, they like the open concept, cooking and having visitors sitting on an island. For this space to be efficient, you need to have good circulation around the island. If the space allows, a double row of cabinets can be added to the island for additional storage,” says IKD designer Merari.

Designer’s note: A good rule of thumb is for better traffic islands in L-shaped kitchens should have at least three or four feet of aisle clearance on each side.

Don’t Be Conned!

Now let’s look at some potential cons of L-shaped kitchens.

“L-shaped kitchens are not the least expensive layout option; the cost is typically at a mid-range price point. But one way to cut the cost is by choosing free-standing appliances,” says IKD designer Albert.

Free-standing appliances are important in L-shaped kitchens for another reason: Appliances tend to be more spaced out, making cooking a bit of a hassle. If the layout allows it, the sink will be centered under a window. We recommend the dishwasher on one side of the sink and on the other side, the trash can. Tall units and the fridge are at the end of the row, while the range can be placed on the longest side. Appliance placement will depend on the layout measurements and the measurements of the appliances that the customer selects.

Another consideration is that this layout is not recommended for a larger IKEA kitchen design. If necessary, then it works best in a space that’s connected to another room, i.e. a family room.

So while L-shaped kitchens may vary in length, it’s important that they do not span too wide of a distance. This will make the chef’s job considerably more challenging. And, in the case of customer Tim from Las Vegas, also caused him to have difficulty accurately taking cabinet measurements for his large, 1980s-style L-shaped kitchen.

“Luckily, I found IKD when I realized that my DIY aspirations might have been too lofty. I’m an avid cook and thought my cooking expertise meant I knew everything there was to know about kitchen cabinets. Boy was I off!” he says.

When he began he did his best to navigate some of the unique layout challenges his space presented (such as tight corner cabinets, multiple doorways and a multi-height ceiling) but his good-intentioned attempts were way off — he was rounding his measurements up (this is a no-no, write down the exact measurement!) and he forgot to include the trim as part of his measurements. Problem solved. Tim found IKD online and worked with designer Meyer to create a stunning built-in IKEA kitchen featuring DIY Shaker fronts in Naragansett Green from third-party custom cabinet manufacturer Semi handmade. This was complemented with IKEA MAXIMERA drawers; IKEA UTRUSTA hinges; quartz countertops and a selection of stainless steel appliances, including a 30″ GE free-standing gas range and a Premium Frost Free Top Freezer/Refrigerator. One of the other things Tim realized was that the largest counter space is in the middle of the “L,” meaning the smaller appliances, like the blender, his favorite KitchenAid stand mixer, and his toaster all needed to be scrunched together. This actually helped as he now had those items in one contained area. He and Meyer also included an IKEA blind corner cabinet organizer for his irregular-sized kitchen. This reduced clutter and left items such as pots and pans neatly stored, yet still accessible.

There’s more to L-shaped kitchen designs than you may think. So take advantage of the adaptability of IKEA cabinets to get your design done. Our design team is here to assist you through the design process. We trust that this information has inspired you to begin your own kitchen remodel.

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