Bye-Bye Big Kitchens

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It’s not just the size of the new American home that’s shrinking — down to 2,377 square feet last year from 2,438 square feet the year before. According to NAHB, the stuff that goes in it is shrinking, too.

It makes sense that a smaller home with a smaller kitchen is going to need smaller appliances.

“If you go down to a 18-inch range instead of one 24 inches, to a 33-inch refrigerator from a 36-inch one, and to an 18-inch dishwasher from 24 inches, you have more counter and storage space,” she says.

Despite their more diminutive size, many smaller appliances have a host of appealing features, says Monica Teague, a public relations manager for Whirlpool Corp.

Here are a few slim and trim appliances options to look for:

  • Refrigerators/Freezers — These were among the first to go compact with improved insulation cutting wall thickness, says Michael Litchfield, author of “In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes,” which offers detailed resources to outfit smaller kitchens.
  • Ovens and Ranges — Wolf‘s “hob” burners each are 15 inches wide and come with gas, electric, induction, steaming or fryer options. Samsung’s 5.9-cubic-foot-freestanding dual oven with five burners has one large oven cavity that can be divided into two, each with its own separate temperature controls. Whirlpool has a 21-inch electric two-burner cooktop with high spill guard.
  • Microwaves — Coleman cautions homeowners not to go too small here, since equipment may not perform the cooking they desire. Sharp Electronic Corp.’s new generation of 24- and 30-inch microwave drawer ovens have seen interior capacity increased to improve cooking and reheating. In addition, they’ve added new cooking options such as “softening ice cream.” Its new “Steamwave” oven provides three functions: full-function sensor microwave, high-powered grill and broiler, and full steam oven. GE’s Profile Advantium wall unit offers speed, convection, microwave cooking, plus a warming oven.
  • Dishwashers — These have shown big advances, pushed by Energy Star standards and consumer demands, says Litchfield. GE’s 18-inch-wide dishwasher offers quiet cleaning with a five-level wash system. Samsung’s 24-inch DMT800 dishwasher provides a “storm “wash feature for powerful cleaning but with toned-down vibration.
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