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How to design a compact kitchen

You really don’t need all those big appliances.

It’s often surprising to see the big kitchens that designers put into some tiny houses; living space or a place to sit down and eat is sacrificed to have a range and a fridge where on could whip a thanksgiving dinner for 12, but have nowhere to serve it.

Tiny house interior

Tiny house interior/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0I was particularly amused by the kitchen in a tiny home that I saw at Greenbuild in Atlanta, displayed by Tiny House Atlanta, which I believe was an Escape Traveler. Here you can see a full-sized five-burner gas range with a microwave over, which has a recirculating exhaust fan. End to end, it looks to be about 11 feet of kitchen. The stove and the fridge both stick out into the living space, which matters in a tiny house.

Kitchen in Porto

Meanwhile, I am in Porto after doing a lecture at the School of Architecture, and am staying at an AirBnB designed by architect Claudia, who has put a really compact kitchen in a corridor between the bedroom and living area. It has a two-burner induction range with a a vented exhaust fan, an 18″ wide dishwasher and a very nice hidden 2 foot wide fridge. There is a good sized oven, a convection/microwave combo and lots of storage.

kitchen with everything open

Using Euro-style appliances with cabinet faces on the fridge and dishwasher gives it a clean look; nothing sticks out into the space. There is room for a 4 burner stove top but Claudia decided that counter-space was probably a higher priority, and who really needs four permanent burners, especially in the age of portable induction units.

There were a couple of other noticeable differences. The fridge was completely silent; I never heard the compressor. This is important in a small space. The sink is molded into the counter, making it easy to clean. The flush built-in appliances made the roof feel bigger and neater.

closeup of stove

The designers of the Escape Traveler know their market, and commenters noted “at last! I love to bake and need a full size range!” But most of Europe does their baking in 24 inch wide ovens. Another problem in North America is that smaller euro-style appliances often cost a lot more than full-sized, because the demand is so low. It’s hard to convince people to pay more to get less. That’s a real shame, because I believe architects could design better kitchens for both bigger and tinier homes if Euro-sized appliances were more available and affordable.

And of course, nobody should be cooking with gas in such a small space, and with a recirculating range hood instead of one exhausting to the outside. The air quality in that tiny home is going to be just awful.

Eva S. Milton

Eva, a certified personal trainer founded her blog in 2019 to share healthy & unusual recipes with her clients, to offer nutritional tips, to communicate informative workout ideas, and to curate ‘fitness fashion’ looks. Now, FitnessonToast has grown significantly due to all of her hard work!

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