Introduction to the Pullman-Style Kitchen

The Pullman-style kitchen is characterized by its efficient use of space and minimalist aesthetic. Based on the compact kitchens found in old Pullman train cars, this style of kitchen makes the most of every inch with smart storage solutions and multi-functional features.

While Pullman kitchens tend to have a pared-down look, they can also incorporate charming vintage details, like subway tile, retro hardware, and glass-front cabinets. The emphasis is on practicality, with every item having its place. This creates an orderly environment even in a tight footprint.

Below we’ll explore the history, design elements, pros/cons, and costs associated with the Pullman-style kitchen. Read on to determine if this efficient and stylish approach is right for your home.

A Brief History of the Pullman-Style Kitchen

The Pullman-style kitchen traces its origins to the mid-19th century when American inventor George Pullman designed sleeper railway cars. His elegant train cars featured compact sleeping berths and a small kitchen that was outfitted with clever storage solutions.

This efficient galley-style kitchen with concealed storage became known as the Pullman kitchen. It was widely copied in urban apartments where space was at a premium.

By the 1920s, the Pullman kitchen had been adapted for modest suburban homes. Housewives appreciated the smart use of space. And the minimalist aesthetic kept cleaning to a minimum.

Today this versatile kitchen style remains popular. Homeowners value its practicality and vintage appeal. The look can work in homes large or small, from prewar apartments to modern farmhouses.

Key Design Elements of the Pullman-Style Kitchen

The Pullman kitchen is defined by a few signature design moves:

Galley Layout

This linear layout allows for an efficient workflow. Appliances and cabinets line up along one or two walls.

Multi-Function Features

From hidden storage nooks to pull-out cutting boards, every inch is maximized.

Concealed Storage

Cabinets have sliding doors or pocket doors to keep the look uncluttered.

Compact Appliances

Smaller stove, fridge, and dishwasher units fit the limited space.

Vintage Styling

Subway tile, glass-front cabinets, chrome hardware evoke a retro diner or railcar.

The Pros and Cons of a Pullman-Style Kitchen


  • Efficient use of space
  • Smart storage solutions
  • Streamlined for easy cleaning
  • Vintage charm
  • Lower costs than large remodel


  • Not enough room for multiple cooks
  • Limited counter space
  • Can look overly sparse
  • Not suited for large gatherings
  • Vintage look not right for all homes

Costs of a Pullman-Style Kitchen Remodel

Updating your kitchen in the Pullman style can be relatively affordable. Here are some typical costs:

  • Galley layout: No need to move walls, lowers cost
  • Cabinets: $2,500 to $5,000 for budget-friendly options like IKEA
  • Countertops: Around $1,500 for laminate
  • Appliances: Compact appliances $300 to $700 each
  • Flooring: Vinyl $500, ceramic tile $1,000
  • Hardware: Vintage-look handles and pulls $200
  • Subway tile: $600 to tile backsplash

Total estimated budget: $5,000 to $15,000

Design Ideas for a Pullman-Style Kitchen

When remodeling a Pullman kitchen, look for ways to add storage and maximize every inch:

  • Opt for sliding doors or pocket doors on cabinets.
  • Use pull-out shelves and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets.
  • Look for flip-up counter extensions.
  • Install pegboards or open shelving for extra storage.
  • Use space over the sink for more shelving.
  • Consider adding a rolling cart for additional prep space.

Incorporate vintage details that suit the compact Pullman style:

  • White subway tile backsplash
  • Stainless steel countertops
  • Retro-style hardware
  • Front-facing sink and range
  • Glass cabinet doors
  • Chrome, wood, or black accents

Who Should Consider a Pullman-Style Kitchen?

This efficient kitchen layout works best for:

  • Homeowners with a small kitchen footprint
  • Renters updating a modest kitchen
  • Lovers of vintage style
  • Owners of older, prewar homes
  • Singles, couples, or small families
  • Those wanting an affordable kitchen update

The Pullman kitchen is likely not ideal for:

  • Large, busy households
  • Homeowners who entertain often
  • Those who don’t like visible clutter
  • Cooks needing lots of prep space

FAQs About Pullman-Style Kitchens

What are the standard dimensions of a Pullman kitchen?

Pullman kitchens are typically 6-8 feet long and 7-9 feet wide, with 8×10 feet being common. Ceiling height is usually 8 feet or less.

How much storage do Pullman kitchens have?

Creative storage solutions allow a surprising amount of storage. High cabinets, pull-out shelves, and slide-out drawers maximize every bit of space.

What’s the best layout for a Pullman galley kitchen?

The most efficient layout is a straight galley with upper and lower cabinets along one or both walls. Appliances align along one side.

What kind of flooring works best in a Pullman kitchen?

Vinyl or ceramic tile floors suit the vintage style. Tile also makes for easy cleaning. Waterproof laminate or luxury vinyl plank are other good options.

Should I get custom cabinets for my Pullman kitchen?

Stock or RTA cabinets cost less and often have sizes and features that work well, like slide-out shelves. Custom cabinets can maximize usable space.


With its smart use of space and nostalgic vibe, the Pullman kitchen style is ideal for vintage-loving homeowners and renters. Making the most of every inch, Pullman kitchens merge storage solutions with sleek minimalism.

The relatively affordable price tag makes these kitchens a realistic remodel for older homes and small spaces. If you value practicality over prestige, the Pullman style could be perfect choice your next kitchen upgrade.