While the kitchen may be one of the most important rooms in the home, what may be more valuable than this room? Counter space. Storage cabinets. Places to put all of the kitchen gadgets that you use on a daily basis.
Anyone with plenty of kitchen appliances knows that countertop real estate is always in demand, and limited. As you begin to plan the home of your dreams, you may find that a moderately sized kitchen is more your style or that your budget limits you to something that is, let’s say, cozy.
You don’t have to go without or select appliances that cramp your style — or space. Simply choose appliances that will pull double duty. “Right now, one of the easiest ways to make space in the kitchen is to make use of multi-purpose appliances,” says David Fairbanks, CEO of eReplacementParts.com.
Here’s the latest in space-saving appliances:
Nowadays, microwaves are being praised for being multi-taskers. “There are many microwaves on the market today that also serve as convection ovens and warmers,” says Jamie Gold, a certified kitchen designer in San Diego, Calif., and author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work. “You end up with three appliances in one.”
She adds there are microwaves that now include a steam setting. “People don’t often have room for a separate steam oven, so the fact that there is one in the same space as the microwave is a big leap forward.”
Bob Bergeth, general manager, builder sales for Whirlpool Corporation, says many multi-use microwaves not only save space, but they save time too. The Time Savor Plus true convection cooking in many of Whirlpool’s microwaves help roast foods up to 30 percent father than traditional, thermal bake ovens, he says.
The microwave has long been the thorn in the side of kitchen designers, Gold says: They all open to the left, making them less versatile to work with. And, well, they’re not the prettiest item to display on the kitchen counter or under a cabinet.
John Petrie, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of MH Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa., agrees. He notes that in the past, designers used over-the-range microwaves to save space. But, they were not aesthetically pleasing. “They also weren’t accessible to those who were smaller and it reduced space for larger pots on the stove,” he says.
That’s why he appreciates microwave drawers, which are mounted under the counter. The microwave plate slides out like a drawer. “The thing about drawer microwaves is that they provide a way to make them accessible to different generations of the family,” he says.
With microwave drawers, Petrie can place a microwave virtually anywhere in the kitchen, even in places that are easily accessible for children, adults and even those who with disabilities. (These microwaves have safety settings so that kids can’t open them unsupervised.)
Another way to save space in the kitchen is to use a stove with induction burners. “Because the burner is directly under the pot, they extend your cooktop area,” Gold says. “Imagine a standard gas stovetop: Unless you’re using all four burners, that’s just dead space. With an induction burner, you have more prep space if you’re only using one burner.”
Another space-saving option is the drawer dishwasher, which sound just like their name — a drawer slides out, rather than racks. This type of dishwasher has specific compartments for each type of dish ad can have a single drawer or two. While one drawer is washing dishing, the other one can be filled for another load. Drawer dishwashers are also popular for their water and energy savings.
While drawer dishwashers are space, water and energy saving, they are ideal for those with smaller families, Fairbanks says. “They’re more convenient for smaller loads,” he says.
Point of Use
In some new homes, appliances at being placed at their point of use. These point-of-use areas are used for space issues or for convenience. For example, Gold says, a mini fridge might be placed under a kitchen island. “The mini fridge could be used as a vegetable crisper or, if you do a lot of entertaining, you could put food or drinks there that you want to be able to get to quickly,” she says.
The kitchen is not the only room in the home that could use more square footage. Laundry rooms are sometimes limited in space, but house some of the largest appliances — clothes washers and dryers. There’s an easy solution to that. Fairbanks suggests combination washer and dryer, like the GE GTUP270, or stackable washer and dryer sets, like LG’s WM2250CE.
Combo washers and dryers are a one-piece unit with the washer on bottom and dryer on top, while stackable washers and dryers are two separate units that can be stacked. Combo washer and dryers can even fit into a closet if the plumbing and wiring is there, he says.
A small space doesn’t have to be so limiting. Appliances are increasingly taking on more tasks so that you and your family can save both space and time and spend more time enjoying your new home.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.