Yacht Galley Design: A Challenge of Form and Functionality

Much like the kitchen in a home, which so often operates as the central hub, facilitating entertainment, homework, life chats, baking and cooking, the design of the galley aboard a yacht demands similar consideration. How many appliances and what type, prep areas, service areas for the crew, considerations for guest interaction… In my large Italian family, we always joked that every kitchen and yacht galley needed to have plenty of seating so we could hang out and harass the chef en masse! As with every space aboard a yacht, technical considerations drive all design to ensure functionality is maximized.


The yacht galley is a technical space; its purpose being to facilitate one of the most important onboard activities: the enjoyment of good food and good company. There are, of course, specific design/layout needs dictated by the vessel’s type and size: motor versus sailing, under 100 feet versus over 100 feet, the time spent at sea and in what conditions, and, of course, the yacht’s intended market – be it American, European, Australian or elsewhere. We dive a little deeper into this subject in our blog post about designing for the spec market. The main distinction that separates the boys from the men when it comes to galley design, however, lies between charter yachts and private yachts.


Private yachts can get away with standard galleys designed to service small groups and families. Much like a home kitchen, the workspace and equipment – and even materials used – are adequate if they serve this purpose. High-end consumer appliances will suit, and good looking stone surfaces and backsplashes can provide lovely accents, even allowing the private yacht galley to become a focal point of the main living areas, with islands and settees providing a gathering spot for family and guests.

Exceptions to this rule are common, as we experienced with the design of the 120’ Nordhavn flagship, Aurora, aboard which the galley design served to influence much of the entire project. While the yacht was intended for private use, the owners were enthusiastic about entertaining and specified a functional galley fitted with the latest high-end appliances. The must-have appliance list was extensive: a full-height refrigerator and full-height refrigerator/freezer, two refrigerator drawers, two dishwashers, two ovens, a microwave oven, a steam oven, two sinks, a Salamander broker, an electric cooktop with four burners, a trash compactor, a BBQ grill, a teppanyaki grill and a wok burner, as well as plenty of storage and counterspace with a stool. 

While there were some compromises to be made to accommodate all of this equipment while still allowing for enough countertop and cabinetry space, we executed a layout and combination of appliance/cabinetry design that suited their needs – and resulted in a truly exceptional, efficient galley space that would please any discerning chef!

We created a “second galley” in the enclosed flybridge space with a full bar with under-counter refrigerator/freezer drawers, a dishwasher, wine cooler, trash compactor and electric BBQ. In the end, this space became a coveted area in which the owners could cook and entertain while enjoying the water views.

LIke Aurora, the owners of the 100’ Nordhavn, Serenity also love to cook and entertain and desired a Galley with all of the latest high end appliances along with enough space for his large family to congregate there. When designing the layout of Serenity, we extended it aft into the dining space, while still maintaining enough space in the adjoining Dining Salon to incorporate a large, 12-person dining table.


When your boat is intended for charter, the design needs are kicked up a notch…or more. Any owner who has experienced crew turnover will acknowledge that yacht galley layout plays a role in a chef’s job satisfaction. Dissatisfied chefs will blame designers who prioritized guest spaces over galley functionality. After all, food is the most important element of a successful charter. A charter necessitates not only three daily meals for up to 12 guests, but crew meals and snacks — not to mention separate dishes catering to dietary restrictions — cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, midnight snacks, crudités and more snacks, including a cookie or two.


Currently we are working on the refit of a 112’ Westport, Hannah,* which is planned for charter. The refit includes opening up the galley space to make it a more “family-friendly” gathering space. Because the yacht will be used for both charter and personal family use, it is important to execute a balance between the family’s appreciation for contemporary styling and high-end finishes and appliances and the durability and functionality required of a charter environment.

So, when considering your next design project, you may want to start with the galley. Do you have ravenous teenagers who must snack every half hour? Will you be joined by your large Italian family, each of whom must gather around the chef to critique the Sunday gravy? Do you have champagne tastes with a beer budget?

In the end, the balance of form and functionality are essential to a successful galley design. Designing your galley with the chef in mind — or better yet in consultation — will ensure not only a successful charter yacht with the right crew, but will also yield returns in resale.

*The new owner of the 112′ Westport Hannah, previously known as Via Kassablanca, was represented by Andrew Miles of Miles Yacht Group while the seller was represented by Alex Rogers & Walter Sea, Jr. of Westport Yacht Sales.

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About the Author

About the Author

Destry Darr Pethtel is an award-winning interior designer based in Florida. Her designs have been featured in several luxury yacht publications such as Showboats, Boat International, Yachts International, Yachting, Luxe Magazine to name just a few! Read More About Destry >>

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