Top 3 Tiny Kitchen Design Layouts

Top 3 Tiny Kitchen Design Layouts

A well functioning kitchen with full sized appliances was not something we were willing to sacrifice when designing hOMe. Since each of us in our family of four is an athlete and both of our kids (16 and 19 years old) have Celiac Disease, creating a comfortable space for preparing and storing food was our top priority. That said, a full sized kitchen may be overkill for other tiny housers, especially if they don’t work from home and often eat out. Fortunately there is something for everyone and in this article we cover the top 3 tiny kitchen design layouts to help you design your dream set up.


tiny house kitchen

hOMe full sized, U-shaped kitchen

Gourmands rejoice, a full sized kitchen IS possible in a tiny house! Realistically, if cooking is a center piece of your day to day life, you may want to consider a tiny house that is 28′ or longer. You could get away with a 24′ tiny house and still have full sized appliances, but the amount of storage for food, cookware, and small appliances will be reduced.

hOMe is 28′ long and the kitchen is spacious enough for three of us to co-prepare a meal pretty darn comfortably. We also have enough space to store dry goods for one month, a standard fridge/range/oven, cabinetry/countertops, dish-ware/utensils for 8, and full sized cooking pots/pans.  The overwhelming majority that have visited hOMe have been stunned by how large and functional the kitchen is and many of them have said that theirs is smaller despite living in a conventionally sized house.

tiny house kitchen

hOMe kitchen has full sized refrigerator, range, cabinets, and countertop providing abundance of space for food prep and storage

Having space for standard appliances, counters, and cabinets means that you won’t pay a premium on non-standard ones.  You will also have more options available to you since there is no shortage of conventional kitchen items on the market.

Placing a full sized tiny house kitchen in one of the two ends of the house will allow you to create a U-shaped kitchen. This configuration is designed for high efficiency food preparation and is the perfect example of the ‘working triangle’ allowing one to easily move between the sink, oven/cooktop and refrigerator. We have lived in dozens of houses with various kitchen layouts, and the U-shaped configuration continues to be our favorite.

tiny house kitchen

The hOMe layout is large enough for 2-3 adults to live in full time

A 28′ tiny house with a full sized U-shaped kitchen is large enough for two to three adults living in it full time. There is enough space for food storage, large appliances and cookware to feed a family that eats at home the majority of the time. There is ample counter space for three people to be preparing food at the same time. If your priority is eating a home prepared meal as much as possible and you don’t intend on traveling with your tiny house a ton, this may be an ideal tiny house layout for you.


A mid tiny house galley kitchen creates very interesting opportunities in a small abode. For starters, it frees up one end of a tiny house floor plan, creating enough space for a downstairs bedroom or lounge area. The Traveler Escape tiny house is an excellent example of this function.

tiny house kitchen escape traveler

The Escape Traveler boasts a downstairs bedroom, kitchen with full sized appliances, and an eating table.

The 28′ long Traveler Escape boasts a downstairs bedroom, kitchen with full sized appliances, and a bathroom large enough for a standard tub and under-counter washer/dryer combo. We had the opportunity of visiting a Traveler Escape and we treated the downstairs bed as a large sofa. It was comfortable enough for three of us and I’m sure we could have squeezed a fourth as well. Tucked away into this downstairs bedroom is also a TV and faux fireplace. Shelves provide bonus storage for various items too.

tiny house kitchen

The Escape Traveler downstairs bedroom can also convert into a sofa

The kitchen in the Traveler Escape only lines one wall, affording space for an eating table on the other side. The table can pull away from the wall and accommodate a fourth chair if needed. One could use a drop leaf table instead and accommodate about six people at a dinner party. Folding chairs could be stored in one of the lofts and brought down when needed.

tiny house kitchen

The Escape Traveler kitchen is light and bright

A 28′ tiny house with a mid galley kitchen is large enough for two people to live in full time and potentially even a third or fourth. There likely won’t be as much kitchen storage in this configuration as there would be in a U-shaped kitchen, but if the owner doesn’t mind restocking the kitchen on a slightly more frequent basis, they want a downstairs bedroom, and they don’t plan on driving their tiny house around a ton, this configuration may be ideal.


tiny house kitchen

Mendy’s tiny house designed and built by Tennessee Tiny Homes

As tiny houses on wheels shrink in size, finding space for well functioning kitchens becomes more challenging. With good design though, it is possible to create a cooking area to meet most day to day dietary needs. The folks at Tennessee Tiny Homes did an outstanding job of this when they designed and built “Mendy’s Tiny House”. Mendy’s boasts a two burner gas stove, a reasonably sized fridge, a sink, counter space, microwave, pantry for food storage, and even a small work station attached to the kitchen counter.

The key to smaller tiny house kitchens is to design them so that one creates space not only for the kitchen but also for a bathroom (or tiny bedroom) at the same end of the house. The amount of square footage saved by combining two “rooms” (such as bathroom and kitchen) is significant, allowing for a larger living area downstairs.

I’ve heard a lot of concerns about a kitchen and bathroom co-existing in one end of a tiny house from an odor stand point and even though I would say those concerns have merit, if one has a toilet that doesn’t emit smells (i.e., flush toilet, Separett composting toilet, etc.), one won’t have any issues. The key is to have an adequate bathroom fan, an operable window, and a closing door that separates the two areas.

tiny house kitchen

Narrower cabinets and counters bought Mendy’s house a lot of space, allowing the the bathroom and kitchen to fit in the same end of the tiny

A great way to save on space in a tiny house kitchen is to use non-standard cabinetry and counter tops. Standard units would have taken up way too much space in Mendy’s tiny house so Tennessee Tiny Homes built them at 20″ deep (rather than the 24″ standard). Very often, standard lower cabinets are so deep that a lot of the space in the back actually becomes unusable or only for long term storage. If you don’t need a ton of food storage, you will likely appreciate the shallower cabinets because you will be able to see everything easily.

Though Mendy’s kitchen is not very large compared to other tiny house ones out there, it’s a great fit for one or two home owners that enjoy eating out a few times per week and/or are able to re-stock the fridge a couple of times per week.  It would also be perfect in a large tiny house in which the owners don’t work from home and spend most of their time out and about and rarely cooking; the amount of space that one could open up in the main living area could be significant. Two burners, such as those found in Mendy’s, are typically sufficient when preparing food for one or two people. The pantry also creates quite a lot of storage space for dried goods and other miscellaneous items in need of a  place to be stored.

tiny house kitchen

Wendy’s small kitchen allowed for a comfy lounge area which can be converted into a bedroom at night

By combining a kitchen and bathroom in the same ‘wing’ in a tiny house, one can create a lot of space. For example, in Mendy’s tiny, that extra space was used to house an extremely comfortable sofa (which can be turned into a bed) and a lounge area for entertaining and watching movies. It’s amazing that Mendy’s tiny house is only 16′ long! If you want plan on driving your tiny house quite a bit and are leaning towards a smaller foot print, a floor plan such as the one built by Tennessee Tiny Homes is a great option.

How about you? What is your favorite tiny house kitchen layout? How important is a kitchen in your life?

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21 Responses to Top 3 Tiny Kitchen Design Layouts

  1. Marcus June 7, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    I am really happy to see an article dedicated to kitchens in tiny homes!

    However, as my partner and I will be exploring on our website as we design our tiny house, I think a real kitchen with plenty of counter space and storage can be done in a smaller tiny house, albeit by sacrificing a large ‘living room’ area.

    I am curious as to what all people store in a kitchen that requires something like the kitchen in hOMe. Obviously you are cooking for more than 2 people, so I get that, but the suggestion throughout the article is that anything less than something like the hOMe kitchen setup will require constant shopping trips or simply not have enough storage.

    But, my partner and I are early in our process so perhaps we are just missing something with our design. But for now we think we can genuinely achieve a big kitchen – not necessarily with full sized appliances because we don’t need those, we need counter space! – in an 18′ tiny house and have plenty of storage for the way we eat, which involves pretty complex meals.

    • /bob June 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm #

      If really serious about living in a Tiny House then start now. Especially in the kitchen, living in your current space as if you were already in a Tiny House kitchen (or any other room) is a great way to find out just how much space you really need for storing supplies, working and living in a smaller space. Limit yourself to using only those drawers and cabinets you think you will have in a Tiny House and adjust as needed until you find the right sized space you need to have. That should show you just how much kitchen and living space you need to design into your own Tiny House. It will also reveal how big or small the whole Tiny House needs to be for you for all the living spaces.

      • Patricia June 7, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

        Excellent idea!!!

      • Gabriella June 8, 2016 at 10:33 am #

        /bob always has great ideas!! This is a great exercise.

    • Sophie June 8, 2016 at 7:13 am #

      Completely agree. We’re at the start of our 3 month build at the moment so our plans are pretty set and, as it stands, the kitchen is over 1/2 the house (total 20′). A lot of that is open space and seating but all in the same area as the stove, oven, countertops, etc.

      When I think back on my childhood, most of my memories are from our big farmhouse kitchen. We had a living room but barely used it as we preferred to be in the kitchen where the chef(s) could be included in the conversation. We’re big into good food so there was nearly always someone cooking.

      I knew I wanted that in my tiny house but would need to trim some things to make it work. Counterspace always seems to be in short supply so we stuck with plenty of that, but fridge space? More of that only ever seems to lead to good food getting forgotten at the back until it moulders so there’s only going to be a small fridge. Big sink, but with a cutting board that slots on top so it’s multi-use. All the fresh fruit and veg storage hangs from the beams. The stove top has become two single burner induction cooktops that can be put away when not in use and there’s the option to add a 3rd or 4th if just having two drives me crazy in those few times when I could use more. Etc.

      We’re only on day 2 of the build so I’ll know a lot more about how well this works once we start in on building (and then using) the kitchen. We do have a blog which will follow all this (when I have a chance to post between build tasks!) but I don’t want to spam so will only post that if I get the ok from Gabriella or Andrew.

      Good luck with your own planning and build!

      • Gabriella June 8, 2016 at 10:32 am #

        Sophie feel free to share your blog link! 🙂

        • Sophie June 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

          We’re at Not much there yet since we’re still in the first week of our build but should be more soon!

          • Gabriella June 12, 2016 at 9:18 am #

            Thanks Sophie! I really like your time and cost trackers. So smart to do it this way!

    • Gabriella June 8, 2016 at 10:48 am #

      Hi Marcus! SO great you guys are getting going! In terms of size, it’s all about scale and personal needs. If you have a smaller kitchen (and thus less food storage space) and eat at home most meals, you will of course need to restock items more than if you had a larger kitchen. In terms of your question of what we store in hOMe here is a breakdown in case it helps get a sense of how much space things take up for us: all of our pots, pans and small appliances fit inside a large lazy susan corner unit; our eating utensils, spices, roots/onions, and misc cooking utensils fit inside an 18″ wide lower cabinet unit with 4 drawers; underneath our sink is our trash can and reverse osmosis filter since we have arsenic in our well; we have 30 days of emergency food stored inside a 24″ lower cabinet as well as mixing and serving bowls; in a lower 36″ cabinet we have all of our food storage containers and water bottles (amazing how much space that all takes up but for us it’s necessary bc of how much food we store…for someone else, this entire cabinet would not be necessary). In terms of uppers and food storage for dry day to day food, we only have two cabinets, one at 24″ and one at 12″ wide. The vast majority of our food is stored in the fridge since we try to not eat so much processed food. All of our plates and glassware fit into a 24″ upper cabinet. For counterspace, we have about 12′ in total and we actually end up using almost all of it but that’s bc it’s often 3 of us cooking. It’s also nice to have all that space when we are unloading groceries. Aways, probably WAY more info than you were looking for but I will say that the majority of our space is actually used to store things like pots/pans/flatware, etc. The food itself doesn’t take up tons of space. I’m excited to see what your guys’ kitchen looks like!! Keep us posted 🙂

  2. /Jay June 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    How do you feel about the tiny house series on hgtv?

    • Gabriella June 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Hi /Jay! We don’t have TV and to tell you the truth I’ve only watched 1 episode. What do you think about it?

  3. Claire July 17, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

    Very clever tips on how to managed the small space just to make it look larger.Thanks for sharing this beautiful hand made design, this are both cozy and elegant and of course, very stylish.

  4. Jacob Martin August 11, 2016 at 4:59 am #

    Hi, Gabriella hope you are fine. The information you have is very knowledgeable. Great tips you have shared with us. These tips will be really help to all who are planning remodel their tiny kitchen. As per my thought L-Shaped layout could be one of the effective layout for smaller kitchen.

  5. Shey January 28, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    Hey Gabriella,

    I’m actually planning to build my tiny house based off of the Vista traveler.

    What makes you say its a good option if you don’t plan on moving the tiny house often? Is it because the kitchen is on one side?

    I plan to move it from Oregon to Southern California. Do you foresee any issues with this type of design?

    • Gabriella January 31, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Hi Shey! From a design stand point it works well (I think) to have the kitchen in the middle like the Vista because it opens up one of the ends as a downstairs bedroom.

      • Shey February 4, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

        Hey Gabriella,

        Are you saying NOT to have a kitchen in the middle like theirs? Not sure what you mean!

        • Gabriella February 5, 2017 at 10:41 am #

          Hi Shey! I’m so sorry for the confusion. Spell check I guess took my comment and created it’s own version of that sentence. I’ve changed it now. But to be clear, no problems at all having kitchen in the middle of a tiny house. It can work out really well bc it leaves the end of a tiny house potentially open for a downstairs bedroom or living room with larger couch. Just always be sure to consider the implications of this on the weight ratio of the tiny house load atop of the trailer. Each trailer design can vary when it comes to the placement of the axles under the trailer bed. Hope that clarifies but if not feel free to holler at me again!

          • Shey February 5, 2017 at 11:55 am #

            No problem! That clears it up 🙂

            Yes that was my one concern since all the appliances will be on one side…but Escape Traveler seems to be a legit company.

            There isn’t much weight on the other side which seems a bit odd.

            But It is my favorite design by far.

            It’s too bad you guys don’t have a similar layout or I would purchase the plans!

            It’s very important for me to have the kitchen NOT under a loft.

  6. Shey February 5, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    Forgot to ask…Do you know of any plans out there with a similar layout? And I could just modify.

    • Gabriella February 6, 2017 at 6:18 am #

      Hi Shey…no I’m sorry but I don’t know of plans for sale with that layout.

  7. Danny Lew December 10, 2018 at 8:33 pm #

    My wife and I stayed in a tiny home for a weekend and it was great. We are thinking about buying a portable one.

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