Getting the Most Out of Your I Shaped Kitchen Design


Getting the Most Out of Your I Shaped Kitchen Design

As the proud and quite unique owner of an I shaped kitchen, you are likely already aware of the challenges you face in designing around it. Unless you are sporting a sizable island to help with food preparation, your setup abandons the kitchen triangle rule in both aesthetics and function. There are some amazing advantages to your kitchen layout that shouldn’t be overlooked, however, and plenty of opportunities to make your friends and guests envious.

One Wall, Infinite Possibilities

You typically find the one wall kitchen in lofts or compact studios as a solution to space problems. It is without a doubt the best remedy for issues of available moving room when your living situation needs every extra inch.

In these scenarios, the noble one wall kitchen can stand as the unsung hero of an apartment or home. With both cabinets and appliances needing to be arranged sensibly in a jigsaw puzzle along a single wall you get to see some true artifice in presentation.

The Noble History of Pullman Kitchens

The Pullman kitchen derives its name (and lineage) from the Pullman company of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the U.S. Founded by George Pullman, this company built and operated railroad sleeping cars for most U.S. railroads between 1867 and 1968. However, it is a common misnomer that these are the exact inspiration for the kitchen style’s naming.


In Europe, the Pullman Company operated railway dining cars where passengers sat and ate at long and slender kitchens. In fact, there remains today a Belmond British Pullman train forming part of the UK route for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express–the world’s most famous train. The Pullman name still symbolically represents fine dining as a singular experience in train travel.


There are a few varieties of the traditional Pullman kitchen which have come to be known by new names in modern times:

  • Pullmans with Island (I shaped kitchen with island): In these kitchens, homeowners opted for an island that opens out onto a dining area or living room rather than having a parallel work area constructed. In these cases, the island may also double as an eating area in a wide open space–very much turning the Pullman kitchen into a design feature.
  • Dead-End Pullmans (galley kitchen): Not truly a variant of the I shaped kitchen, this still conforms to the narrow and functional definition of Pullman. Often this is an opportunity to make your dead-end an accent wall to catch the eye.
  • Pass-Through Pullmans (open galley kitchen): Also not a true I shaped kitchen, the open galley may still be limited to very confined options for one side of its design. Operating as both a kitchen work area and a passageway, these kitchen styles can often still find the lion’s share of your work and food prep taking place on one end to allow foot traffic behind.
  • Single-sided Pullmans (I shaped kitchen): The true reflection of Pullman cooking, I shaped kitchens provide a single long countertop, cabinets, and appliances for all your needs. If you happen to have an interior wall behind you, you may be able to put up shelving between studs in order to store spices or other small items.


Challenges of the Design

The basic functional benefits of the I shaped kitchen really help with smaller homes; keeping your appliances, all of your cooking implements, and ingredients in close reach is great. Unfortunately, it can create a visual clutter that transcends any eclectic aesthetic value into pure messiness. In such instances, you may consider concealing the kitchen behind some gliding or pocket doors.

With the compact design, it can be tough to work with limited counter space. Your sink, fridge, and stove top already occupy a significant amount of room on their own. You may consider looking into smaller 24-inch ranges or “apartment” fridges to open up additional countertop for your food prep. This could provide ample room for extra cabinetry as well.


Flex the Advantage of Pedigree

Your kitchen may be petite and functional, but it bears a proud name and strong heritage. Let that work to your advantage and capitalize on the concept. Make use of the simple affordability of the layout to budget for better appliances, higher quality RTA kitchen cabinets, and have money to spare for flooring.

We’re beginning to see more designers even opening up a galley kitchen by removing walls to create a truly one-of-a-kind pullman kitchen for their clients. Whether you’re going for a traditional American look or more modern European aesthetic, the one-wall layout can greedily capture the eye of any visitor to all of your great design decisions.

Paired with a small island or simply a compact range of cabinets in parallel, the I shaped kitchen can provide an eyeful of pleasing design to a wide open space of visitors. Don’t be disappointed in its flaws. Be proud of its merits and history while working them into your design approach. You won’t regret it.



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