Guide to Galley Kitchen Remodeling: Costs & Expert Advice

The galley kitchen is having a moment. Though the term might dredge up memories of too many roommates squeezing past one another in your first-ever apartment, there’s a lot to be said for these small-but-mighty spaces. 

Typically, galley kitchens are hallway-like rooms that flow into larger spaces such as a dining area or living room. Their diminutive footprint emphasizes efficiency, tightening up that oh-so-important “work triangle,” which situates the refrigerator, sink, and stovetop in a way that minimizes the number of steps it takes to get from one to the other.

Although open floor plans have been en-vogue for the past couple of decades, we’re starting to see more homeowners request to have their kitchens closed off to delineate cooking, dining, and entertainment spaces. Meanwhile, the galley kitchen is often a staple in smaller homes like urban apartments as well as Southern California’s iconic bungalows and cottages.

Planning a galley kitchen remodeling project of your own? With the help of a skilled kitchen remodeling contractor, you’ll be well on your way toward creating a beautiful and functional space.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we get inquiries every day from homeowners looking to remodel their homes – here are some key points you need to know.

How Much Does A Galley Kitchen Remodel Cost?

Kitchen remodels aren’t cheap. In the Los Angeles area, the kitchen remodel costs average between $45,000 and $70,000 depending on the size and scope of the project and the materials you choose. But because of the galley kitchen’s small size, we’ve seen simple remodels completed for as low as $40,000.

Regardless of your kitchen remodel budget, it’s often money well spent. A kitchen remodel that includes modern design elements and updated appliances can improve functionality, increase energy efficiency and boost the overall value of your home. Let’s face it, most homeowners and home buyers put a premium on the quality, size, and look of the kitchen; much more so that most other rooms in the house. And therefore renovating your galley kitchen should greatly enhance the value and functionality of your home. An outdated kitchen makes a house look old and tired, just like a green shag carpet or peach-colored walls.

The costs of remodeling a kitchen are not insignificant, but you can achieve some savings by using pre-fab cabinetry and countertops, and basic appliances and hardware. You’ll still get a stylish new look without breaking the bank. 


Tips For Your Galley Kitchen Remodel

Fun fact: The galley kitchen gets its name from the long, narrow kitchen compartments found in ships. But thanks to a number of advancements in appliances and cabinetry, this layout is anything but limiting. An experienced galley kitchen contractor can talk you through your options as you develop your plans

Some starting points to consider: 

First, sunlight is the biggest natural palate cleanser there is. If you don’t already have windows, you might see if it’s possible to add them. This isn’t an inexpensive update, but ample natural light will make your space feel brighter and airier.

Downsizing and choosing custom appliances is another way to get more out of a small space. For example, a cooktop with a wall oven below can be built directly into the cabinets. This setup will take up considerably less real estate than a traditional slide-in range. Or you might consider panel-ready appliances, which are designed to be covered with front panels — pre-fab or custom-built — to blend seamlessly into the cabinetry, thus eliminating visual breaks to create a cohesive look and feel.   

One more option for making a galley kitchen feel more expansive is to consolidate all tall storage into one area. This might mean replacing upper cabinets with open shelving along one wall while situating the pantry, refrigerator, and remaining upper cabinets on the other. 

Can I Open Up A Galley Kitchen?

That depends! In some buildings — especially in prewar construction — it might not be possible to move the pipes to appropriately accommodate a new layout. 

But there are other options for opening up the space. One is to remove just a segment of a wall — as opposed to demoing an entire thing — to allow more interaction between the kitchen and the adjoining room. Adding open shelving to this space will provide extra storage or display space while breaking up that hallway feeling.

If your galley kitchen has a dead end, another possibility is to build a small addition to allow for the creation of a dining nook. These can be lovely spaces for enjoying your morning coffee or intimate dinners for two. By allowing the kitchen to flow into the nook, you’re adding functional space as well as visual depth.


Create A Galley Kitchen With A Peninsula Or Island

For enthusiastic home cooks, the galley kitchen can prove challenging in terms of providing enough work and storage space. Adding a peninsula or island is an easy solution.

If you’re one who favors flexibility, a portable kitchen island might be a great choice. These often feature cabinets, drawers, and other features you’d expect from permanent structures, but you can move them where you want them, whenever you want. In the midst of an involved cooking project? Pull it closer to the stove so you have easier access to your prepped ingredients. Entertaining friends? You have the perfect surface to set up a drink and snack station.

But if your kitchen is especially narrow, a peninsula — an L-shaped counter and lower-cabinet extension — might make more sense. These can make an impact in adding storage, work surface, and seating without obstructing movement through the space.

What Is The Process And Timing To Complete A Galley Kitchen Remodel?

The amount of time it takes to complete a galley kitchen remodel depends on the size and scope of the work being done. A simple project can take as little as three to four weeks, while a total renovation including custom cabinetry and other specialized components might take two to three months. A general rule of thumb: Ask your kitchen remodeling contractor for a time estimate, then tack on an additional 10 to 20%. This allows wiggle room for an appliance on backorder or other delays.

One of the most challenging things about kitchen remodels is that you’ll temporarily be without a place to cook. Setting up a temporary kitchen — complete with microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee station — elsewhere in the house will help take some of the financial stings out of the restaurant takeout you’ll inevitably be ordering. 

Kitchen remodels can be dirty, dusty work — especially during demolition. Your contractor should seal off the kitchen from the rest of the house during this part of the process. 

If at any point you notice something doesn’t look quite right, bring it up immediately. It’s always easier to fix something before the rest of the work is completed. One way to bypass issues is to have a weekly meeting with your contractor to walk through the work that’s been completed and talk through the next steps. Clean and open communication is the name of the game. 

After the renovation is completed, it’s a good idea to hire a service for a thorough cleaning before you move houseware and food back into the kitchen. Check to make sure all appliances are working properly before making your final payment to your contractor.


How To Find The Best Kitchen Contractor For The Job

At GreatBuildz, we make it easy to connect with the best local general contractors. Whether you’re in Orange CountyVentura County, or anywhere else in the Los Angeles area, our robust general contractor network has licensed contractors taking new clients in your area.

Simply call and tell us about your project and your budget, and we’ll get right to work matching you with three well-qualified professionals. Each one has passed our rigorous 10-point screening process, which includes an in-person interview, reference checks, and verification of licensure and insurance. 

We highly recommend reaching out to all three of our recommended contractors to request bids. Pay close attention not only to the bottom line but the scope of what’s included. Should you have any questions as you compare these bids, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated service team is always ready to help.

Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next remodeling project or visit our website for more information:

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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