When you're looking for a condo or an apartment, you might find some listings that have a feature called a galley kitchen. If you're not familiar with this feature, you won't be able to properly picture the layout of the condo without actually visiting it. Let us explain the galley kitchen, the history of the word, and its purpose so you can sound like you know what you're talking about when you call to arrange a viewing.

Originally, the word galley referred to the kitchen on a boat, and later to the kitchen on an airplane. Because boats and planes have so much less space than the average home, it wasn't possible to build a typical kitchen. Instead, maximum use was made of the space by stacking appliance units and storage vertically rather than horizontally, often in a tight u-shaped space in order to have maximum wall space. Galley is still the correct name for a vehicle kitchen.

Photo sample of a galley kitchen

As the size of real estate in cities shrunk and condo (like those found here) became more normal than full size detached houses, builders began to look for ways to save space and maximize the amount of open floor area in a condo. One of the ways they came up with was to take a page out of the seafarer's book and incorporate galley designs into the apartment or condo to minimize the area that needed to be set aside for the kitchen. This not only allowed for a bigger living room, but also allowed them to squeeze more units into their buildings.

Galley kitchens made by home builders are a little different from their seafaring counterparts, however. For one thing, appliances and dishes don't need to be secured against the motion of the ship. A typical condo galley kitchen is not u-shaped either, unless that fits with the floor plan. Instead, it will simply consist of one wall of a multipurpose main living space, with the appliances stacked to use the vertical space. Some galleys have two short walls of appliances facing each other.

What you can determine about a home for sale from the fact that it has a galley kitchen listed is that the home is going to be small and cramped. Galley kitchens are purely functional and rarely allow more than one person to cook at a time, so this is not a feature you should be looking for if you plan to do a lot of entertaining. It is, however, ideal for people who rarely cook.

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