Small Kitchens: The New Kitchen on the Block
Does your dream home have everything except a showpiece kitchen? While traditionally, kitchens have been central spaces for cooking, eating, hanging out, and showcasing appliances, today’s kitchens are often practical, lifestyle spaces. Built-ins are not just for master bedrooms anymore. Whether it is by design or as a trade-off, this ‘less is more’ attitude is creating some innovative and adaptive trends.
Scaling Down by Choice
For those who want to pare kitchen size down by choice, the micro-kitchen is the new kitchen on the block. You may have seen these in cartoons like The Jetsons, or even at work, as small stations where employees could pick up a snack, heat their lunch or grab a coffee — a sort of drive-through window if you will. But beyond a workplace solution, the micro-kitchen is here to stay. People no longer need to cook up a storm in their kitchen, given the rise of digital restaurant delivery apps and pre-packaged meals.
More and more of today’s home buyers, especially in urban environments, want to replicate modernisms such as modular countertops and drawer-based dishwashers in their own kitchens. In fact, companies like GE, Miele, Energy Star and others now offer “the power of full-sized appliances in a pint-sized package.” These shrunken appliances range from slim-line refrigerators that squeeze in at under 22″ wide to stackable refrigerator and freezer sets and built-in countertops.
With such designs, consumers can save even more floor space by building their cooking needs into their walls with speed ovens that serve multiple purposes. You can now get a three-for-one special with microwave, convection and standard oven in a single unit. And, while the actual appliances may be small, the NPD Group Inc., a global information company, reports that U.S. sales of “small home appliances and housewares markets will continue on the growth path.”
When Small is Just Less Kitchen Space
Sometimes, however, small is just less kitchen space. Certainly, the size of a kitchen is relative.
The National Association of Realtors, quoting research by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, relays that the size of a kitchen “may vary drastically by geographic location, home size, and home style.” They go on to say the average size of a newly built single-family home kitchen under 13 feet by 13 feet.
Let’s face it, though, not everyone gets a ‘newly built’ house. Furthermore, you may not be someone who craves what the New York Times calls a small kitchen ‘by choice.’ You may be one of the many who is just opting for a home that has everything but a separate kitchen and dining room. Your kitchen needs to integrate living and dining space. So how does one navigate the downsized kitchen and yet keep it impressive, functional, and the heart of your home?
Big Trends for the Smaller Kitchen
Grace Ingravallo of Provident Legacy Real Estate Services, stresses the importance of finding kitchen items that can work for different tasks, and only buying what you need. In her markets of Hoboken and Jersey City, Grace says “minimalism is your friend when working with small kitchens.” In other words, go for efficiency, function, and clutter-free.
Companies such as BoConcept are geared to those who have minimal kitchen space but still want all the traditional features. In Center City, Philadelphia, for instance, the iconic rowhome has created a niche where homeowners must get creative when it comes to their kitchens. Owner Terrace Daniels says, his clients want three things from a kitchen space: (1) to be able to eat, (2) simplistic design, and (3) stylish features. Terrance reports that today’s newer furniture is intended to help homeowners use their space to its fullest advantage. This can mean a contoured table for two set up against a narrow wall space or a table for four with hidden panels that expand out for Thanksgiving.
5 Easy Steps to Maximize and Minimize Your Kitchen Space
Need a few creative ideas for your small kitchen? Noodle on these five steps to maximize your minimized kitchen space.
- Recycle it. On a budget and inside a cupboard, you can re-use jars from spaghetti sauce or blue cheese dressing to hold things like nuts, lentils, rice. This not only protects from insects, but also helps you see what you have more clearly
- Stack it. Stackable storage containers are another great idea when trying to maximize cabinet and pantry space. You can find them at hardware stores, kitchen stores and container stores. Or, use shoe boxes (lidless) or closed, with labels
- Flip it. Cooking at home is still the preferred way to prepare a meal for 98% of Americans. Luckily, if you have an eat-in counter top space, you have a perfect prep station. Move your stools to the side and face into your kitchen. With its height, you can either stand or sit.
- Clean it. Need the Cuisinart? Pull it out, use it and then put it back right away. Whether you are baking, cooking, broiling or mixing, cleaning up as you go along will keep your prep station tidy.
- Organize it. Create zones for things. You might set up a coffee station where your mugs, coffee, sugar and expresso-maker are in the same place. Or, have the blender and protein-powder set up for your morning smoothie. Use your lifestyle needs to organize your kitchen.
Ultimately, the kitchen could still be the heart of any home. Home is where the heart is.