How to Make the Most of a Small Kitchen Space It's About Finding the Right Sized Appliances

You can still find the right appliances despite your kitchen's small size (iStock)

Home cooks often dream of large rambling kitchens filled with restaurant-quality equipment; six burner stoves; double ovens; industrial strength dishwashers that scrape the crud right off the pots; and sub-zero refrigerator freezers with hydroponic herb gardens built in.

Sadly, this fantasy is completely out of reach for the majority, particularly those of us with small one-person kitchens that can barely accommodate standard-sized appliances. But there are options out there for both budget-minded and space-limited folk.

Getting Around Size

The standard size for most kitchen appliances are as follows:

  • Ranges are 30 inches wide by 36 inches high by 25 inches deep.
  • Dishwashers are 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 35 inches high.
  • Refrigerators are 30 to 36 inches wide by 67 to 70 inches high by 29 to 30 inches deep.

However, many major brands offer models that will satisfy the most ardent cooking enthusiast while still fitting into a limited space.

For instance, Whirlpool makes an 18-cubic-foot refrigerator freezer that measures 28 inches wide, 67.4 inches high, and 31.6 inches deep. It features glass shelves, adjustable gallon door storage, and two humidity-controlled crispers. If your kitchen can accommodate it, LG makes a 32.8-inch wide fridge that features an ice and water dispenser, a four-compartment crisper system, and a smart cooling system designed to monitor and maintain conditions to keep food fresh.

Other brands, including Frigidaire, Samsung and Maytag, all make similar products. Units are available for any budget. Prices range from $599 to over $5,000, depending on the amenities offered in the appliance.

Ranges can also present a problem in a space-challenged kitchen. A typical four-burner stove is over 36 inches. To get below 20 inches. two burner models are available. Most home cooks require more than that. At the high-price end, BlueStar offers a four-burner, 24-inch pro-style gas range with 22,000 BTU power burners and a 3.5-cubic foot convection over and infrared broiler. This range is a scaled-down version of what professionals use in restaurants. It even includes a ceramic infra-red broiler and retails for about $4,000. As with refrigerators, there are less pricey models that can fit the bill from various manufacturers, including Summit, Premier and Vulcan, starting as low as $329.

Other Options

Small or compact dishwashers have been around for a long time, with some as narrow as 18 inches. One should keep in mind though that an 18-inch dishwasher doesn’t hold much. If you are designing your small kitchen, it pays to consider cutting space for say cabinet storage and using a standard-sized dishwasher generally 24 inches wide. A good cook can create magic on any stove or in any oven, and today’s modestly-sized refrigerators are designed to optimize freshness. However, a standard-sized dishwasher makes that dinner party more manageable in any space.

Sandy Tau, the owner of AHC Appliances, located in Cedarhurst, New York, has been in the appliance business since 1998. “Most high-end manufacturers recognize the need in places where there are small apartments for these products so they all make appliances this size,” she says. One design tip she offers is, “to panel the dishwasher,” with the same doors as the cabinetry. “It makes the kitchen look larger because it’s not cut by a piece of stainless steel.”

Regardless of your budget and space, there are design solutions for your kitchen. And most answers are only a quick click away online.

A.J. Sidransky is a novelist and staff writer at The Cooperator.

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