A galley kitchen is an open kitchen design that mimics the galleys on sailing vessels. In a galley kitchen, appliances and cabinets are arranged in two parallel lines with overhead cabinets and racks to maximize the use of vertical space. Galley kitchens may be U-shaped, or they may consist only of parallel countertops. They always lack a central table or counter.
On a ship, the galley is often a small room, forcing the designers to maximize the use of space while leaving enough room for the cook to maneuver. Efficient storage is an important part of galley design, with multilevel cabinets and drawers a common design motif. Galleys in homes often make use of natural light to give the confined cooking area a more airy, open feel.
Galleys also tend to group appliances together in order to minimize horizontal travel, improving the efficiency of the cooking process. For example, a countertop typically lies between the refrigerator and stove, allowing the cook to remove ingredients, prepare them on the nearby counter and cook them on the stove without having to walk back and forth across the kitchen. Similarly, designers group together the sink, dishwasher and dish cabinets to maximize the efficiency of cleanup after cooking.