A One-Cook Kitchen
Like the one-wall and galley floor plans, a U-shaped layout is an efficient kitchen designed for one primary cook. Basically a wide galley kitchen with one end closed off, it keeps onlookers out of the main work area while remaining open to other rooms of the home and allowing traffic to pass.
Problems with the traditional U-shaped kitchen typically arise due to its small size. For one, it doesn't offer room for a kitchen table and chairs. Secondly, depending on where the sink is situated, it may be impossible to fit the dishwasher right next to it.
To address the seating issue, you can try, as shown here, a pass-through to the dining room on one of the "legs" of the U. Another option is to turn that leg into a peninsula by eliminating the wall and the upper cabinets. The peninsula counter can then be used for eating, homework or paying bills. Of course, that method also eliminates a significant amount of storage space.
Moving the refrigerator out of the main U shape can give you more food and cookware storage near the rangetop and ovens. Adding a kitchen island may seem like the obvious choice, but be careful: Most older U-shaped kitchens don't have room for one. Industry guidelines recommend at least 3½ feet between the island and surrounding cabinets and appliances so that doors can open properly and people can maneuver safely.