The term “micro-kitchen” may elicit claustrophobic imagery of limitation and sacrifice: a shoebox space with minimal counter space, tiny appliances and oppressive storage. However, with radical changes in lifestyle impacting design trends, small-space kitchen design is having an innovative moment. Creative, small footprint, solutions are leading the way as millennials embrace smaller, more sensible living spaces and baby boomers experience the liberating advantages of downsizing.
In NYC, a 14-unit micro-apartment building just received 60,000 applications (that’s approximately 4200 applications/unit) for 260-360 square-foot studios. Home-cooked food still matters, but McMansion dream kitchens with granite-laden islands and four-door refrigerators are making way for multifunctional, open-concept spaces with customized creative solutions.
Are these petite culinary quarters about compromise? Kyler Davalovsky, owner at IKAN Installations, shares his expertise from a recent micro-kitchen design in a basement suite conversion, where the design brief was not about sacrifice, but creative thinking, big ideas and careful consideration of cost-effective materials.
“With smart design, a micro-kitchen should not have to sacrifice on essentials or luxuries found in a full-size kitchen,” says Davalovsky. He suggests that no matter how small your project, you may want to hire a general contractor to manage the trades involved in the renovation. It is an added cost up front, but a very worthwhile investment to minimize the chance of unnecessary surprises.
In the basement suite of this early 1930’s home, the parameters of the design were to work with the 6’10 ceiling height, a sloping concrete floor and to keep the plumbing in its original spot. Davalovsky adds that “in order to keep the budget intact we needed to make the design work with their existing full-size appliances.”
“I always highly recommend speaking to an interior designer, whether they design your entire project, or provide a short consult, they will help maximize the potential of your space. A well-planned space will save you money and increase the value of your investment when it is done right.”
To create the illusion of height and spaciousness, a designer recommended they eschew upper cabinets for high-gloss white subway tiles. A dramatic black hood fan becomes the focal point to complement the compact ceramic slide in range.
A counter depth fridge and built-in microwave keep counter space available and large drawers in the microwave pantry cabinet add to the kitchen’s functionality. Upper and lower cabinets on this side create more storage opportunities and a black toe kick pairs well with the slate tile floor to conceal the discrepancy in the sloping floor.
Yes, conventional appliances can monopolize a small space but ironically, small, nonstandard, appliances are more costly than traditional sized appliances. With the client’s budget top of mind, IKAN attempts to keep costs down by designing with standard appliances first. Once the budget is established, they can consider all materials and the possibility of specialty appliances.
White, high-gloss, Ringhult Ikea cabinets, paired with high-shine subway tiles, reflect the light to create an airy contemporary feel in the small space.
With no room for a front entrance closet, to keep clutter at bay, IKAN built a custom bench with shoe storage solutions and a coat rack from Ikea.
Designing and installing an increasing amount of micro-kitchens in studio apartments, basement suites and multiple dwelling character conversions, IKAN is well versed in the language of creative layouts to support low-maintenance lifestyles. “We also see a trend in clients downsizing their current kitchens in order to optimize square footage for other uses in their home.” According to Davlovsky, one last thing to consider in any major kitchen renovation, big or small, is to remember to make restaurant reservations and provide a heads up to friends and family that you’ll be popping by around dinner time.