New products help open up cramped kitchens

October 31, 2005|by CHRISTINE BRUN/Copley News Service

The kitchen is often the most cramped and troublesome spot in a small home. But planning expertise and innovative new products can transform it into something fabulous - a gathering spot for family and friends with appliances that make it possible for home chefs to turn out elegant meals.

Sarah Lee, interior designer of her own historic beach cottage, was determined not to give up entertaining when she moved into a very small place. This gourmet cook preserved the look and feel of the charming cottage by incorporating plenty of storage hidden behind painted wood panels. The refrigerator and dishwasher mimic the wood used throughout the home. A piece of framed art hangs on the face of the refrigerator.

Visitors lose sight of this space as a traditional kitchen and suddenly see it as integrated into the living area. Lee also hid away an ice maker that was an important tool for someone who loves to entertain.


The proper equipment to make your kitchen function for your needs is available, too. Just decide what you need and then seek it out. It will make the function and design of your space possible.

A superb new stand-alone full-functioning appliance is the Companion from AGA Ranges Inc. that is shown here. Measuring just 24 inches wide, the appliance can slide into even the smallest galley-style kitchen.

It features four burners (two semirapid, one rapid and one ultrarapid/wok burner) and two small electric ovens, powered by natural gas or propane, and was designed as part of the larger AGA line. That means it can also attach to the two-, three- or four-oven cookers. When used alone, it is a great option for the space-challenged kitchen.

The conventional oven offers zoned-heat cooking and incorporates a split broiler and a bottom convection oven. The finish is a vitreous enamel surface, a mixture of molten glass, clay and pigment that is permanently bonded onto cast iron at very high temperatures to form a tough, gloss finish. It is available in 15 contemporary colors, such as pistachio, heather, terra cotta and aubergine. Retro colors include turquoise, Wedgwood blue and golden sunflower yellow.

Rather than limiting your options, appliances can add color and interest. Function can be sharpened by using refrigerator and freezer drawers.

Check out Sub-Zero brand and two new models made by Marvel, which has unveiled the world's only 30-inch-wide unit. The drawer, model 80RD, allows its owners to store more in its 7.5 cubic-foot capacity. Measuring 24 inches wide, model 60RD, provides whisper-quiet 5.6 cubic-foot capacity. These stainless steel drawer interiors can be built into surrounding cabinetry for the look of seamlessness.

Seamlessness is critical in maximizing space in a small kitchen, but sometimes odd corners can pose difficult challenges and force a floor plan that involves unusual solutions. In those situations it is possible to pull some of the functioning appliances away from the wall. From a company called Perlick in Wisconsin comes the Stainless Steel Cabinet, a 6-foot-long stand-alone box that can be configured as freezer, refrigerator and wine cellar.

Start with a vision of what you'd like your kitchen to be. Then measure the available room. After that, look for products that can perform the functions you need in the smallest possible space. Add some imaginative flair, and you'll have a kitchen everyone will want to come home to.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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