Galley kitchens are popular in Boston, especially in the city’s historic brownstones. This is because in many of these homes, space is at a premium, and the galley kitchen is the ideal space-saving design. With three walls and narrow floor space, these kitchen designs let you pack in all the amenities of a larger kitchen, only in a smaller space. If you’re looking for remodeling ideas for your galley kitchen, be sure to check out the following!

1. Rely on Natural Lighting to Make Your Kitchen Feel Larger

Galley kitchens, because of their narrow layouts, have a tendency to feel small and cramped. One way to make these kitchens feel larger is through the use of natural lighting. In other words, big windows out into the world enhance your connection to the great outdoors, which makes the space feel more expansive. And, all that natural light pouring in to brighten up the kitchen makes it feel a little bit bigger, too. Definitely opt for large windows over the kitchen sink so that you’ll have a nice view as you work at the sink, and if your galley kitchen has another exterior wall, you may even consider sacrificing a little bit of cabinet space for a couple more windows, just to give the room a bigger, brighter feeling.

2. Make Upgrades to Your Lighting

Does your galley kitchen lack for lighting, or do you have a couple of large light fixtures that overwhelm the small space? If so, this is a quick upgrade you can make that will not only give you more light to work by, but will also help make the kitchen feel a little larger. For ceiling lights, consider recessed can lighting. This is the ideal way to give the entire room a compact yet even light source—no dark spots in some corners and bright spots in other areas. For a little extra light over the kitchen sink or elsewhere, go with simple pendant lights. These are a stylish alternative to heavier chandelier-style fixtures that can make the room feel cramped or cluttered.

3. Go with a Lively Backsplash

If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to spice up your kitchen, what about a new backsplash? This is a project that many homeowners can DIY, and compared to a lot of other remodeling ideas, even if you do have to pay a contractor, it won’t be as expensive as some other upgrades that you could do. As far as backsplash ideas go, the sky is the limit. Tile in interesting geometric patterns, bright colors, glossy reflective materials—these are all great ways to add more personality to the room, and in some cases, especially with reflective surfaces, enhance the sense of space, too.

4. Avoid Dark Colors

We’ve talked about how more light makes a kitchen feel bigger, and along with this, so do lighter colors. Dark shades tend to absorb light whereas lighter shades reflect it. To make the kitchen feel bright, airy and spacious, skip the blacks or the dark wood cabinetry and instead go for shades of white, off-white or gray. The same goes for wall colors—keep it bright to make the kitchen feel bigger.

5. Find New Places for Countertop Clutter

The need for more space is definitely a recurring theme in galley kitchens, and another great way to give yourself more space is to get the clutter up off the countertops. There are lots of ways to go about this. For instance, instead of chopping blocks and utensil canisters, consider pull-out cabinets or drawers with specialized inserts designed to hold knives and larger utensils. You can also install small shelves between the counters and upper cabinets if you need places to put spices, recipe books, and so on.

6. Place Your Appliances Wisely

Since space is at a premium in galley kitchens, appliance placement is key—particularly if you expect that two people will be using the kitchen at the same time. The best way to organize your appliances is to keep them all on one wall. Make sure that the stove is in the center of that wall so that you have plenty of counter space to either side. The dishwasher goes between the stove and the sink at the end of the room, and you should place the refrigerator at the end of the counter, along the same wall as the stove. This will make it easier for you to navigate between sink, dishwasher, stove and fridge, and it also leaves the counter space on the opposite wall completely open for the prep work you’ll be doing as you cook.

7. Make Use of the Space Above and Below Your Cabinets

Just because the kitchen is small, that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on storage options! If you’re planning a major upgrade to your cabinetry, think about all the unused spaces, most notably above and below the cabinets. Below the cabinets, you can install toe-kick drawers. These are great places to keep the bigger things, like cutting boards, cookie sheets and baking pans. Above the upper cabinets, you can install smaller cabinets, which are great places to keep your cookbooks or smaller countertop appliances like the toaster or blender.

8. Open Up the Kitchen Through the Dividing Wall

Most galley kitchens have at least one wall that separates them from the rest of the home. You can greatly increase the sense of space within the kitchen and give yourself a view into other areas of the home if you make an opening in that dividing wall. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of counter space. Rather, simply make an opening between the counter and the ceiling. You’ll still have that essential workspace, and when needed, these little nooks can double as serving spaces, an eat-in island or a bar.

9. Smaller Spaces Make Luxury Surfaces More Affordable

Have you always wanted a beautiful parquet or herringbone wood floor? What about those marble countertops? In a huge kitchen, the cost of these materials can be prohibitive, but smaller galley kitchens make luxury materials much more affordable. The floor is generally only a narrow strip, and if you would like a high-end countertop, you won’t have miles upon miles of counter space plus a large island to contend with. Feel free to consider these options, even if you’re looking at a budget-friendly full kitchen remodel.

10. Go with Glossy Finishes

Gloss finishes have a couple of advantages. They are much easier to clean than matte finishes, which is important in a kitchen where grease and little bits of food will get stuck to walls and cabinet fronts. Additionally, they’re reflective, which throws light around the room. Just like with light colors, glossy finishes make the room feel larger. If you want to add some high-gloss shine, there are several options: the floors, cabinets, countertops and even the walls. Think about finishes carefully and choose gloss for surfaces likely to get dirty, or to help make the kitchen feel bigger.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to make a galley kitchen feel bigger and brighter, and there are plenty of ways to add more personality and storage space, too. Whether you’re doing a quick budget remodel or a full-kitchen makeover, use some of these ideas to make the most of your galley kitchen!

10 Galley Kitchen Remodeling Ideas