One American dream is a large, luxury kitchen, but size often has to bow to reality when space is at a premium. You don't have to forgo luxury, though. If you have the money, you can have most of the bells and whistles out there.
"Everything is available for the small kitchen--for example, 18-inch dishwashers and an abundance of sink sizes," Mark Brody, a New York kitchen designer, says.
Small appliances have two advantages: They help cram a lot of cooking potential into a little space, and they are easy to camouflage when you want to integrate a kitchen into an informal living area.
The drawback, according to Brody, is that while there are a lot of low-end pieces of the residential hotel refrigerator and hot-plate variety, and there are plenty of big-ticket items, the middle ground is rather barren.
Brody used two space-saver refrigeration units from Sub-Zero Freezer Co. of Madison, Wis., for the kitchen in a downtown New York City loft. He chose them because they are narrower and more flexible than the standard box. There are even extra two-drawer units that fit under the counter, providing added space. Prices are steep, starting at $2,300 each, plus installation and veneer.
Since the Sub-Zero units can be covered in veneer and there's not even a telltale grille visible, there's nothing to identify them as "kitchen stuff." This especially appealed to Brody for the loft design.
"The kitchen area measured about 8 by 11 feet," he says. "And it was open to the rest of the living space, so we wanted to de-emphasize the kitchen feeling. The units are completely concealed behind white wood fronts that match the rest of the cabinetry."
A vogue for integrating the kitchen into a living area or a great room is what led SieMatic to create a kitchen that would fit along a 12-foot wall.
"A trend in new luxury buildings and individual rehabs in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia is to get rid of the separate tiny kitchen," Vincent Moos says. Further, says Moos, spokesman for SieMatic, a German manufacturer of kitchen cabinets with North American headquarters in Langhorne, Pa., when it becomes a part of a larger living area, "the kitchen has to be beautiful because you are going to be looking at it all the time."
To fit in all the kitchen equipment demanded today, as well as a pantry, drawers for pots and pans and a butcher-block work surface, requires using smaller appliances.
SieMatic chose European appliances such as Miele and Gaggenau because they offer many of the same features as standard-size American models but have only a slightly reduced capacity. The dishwasher, for example, is 18 inches wide, in comparison to a typical 24-inch American dishwasher. The refrigerator-freezer is 22 inches wide and about three-quarters the standard height. It fits inside a pantry cabinet. The sink and cooktop are about the same size as American units.
Cabinets from SieMatic's regular line include space-saving features such as a two-tier cutlery storage tray, a pop-out waste bin and a locking pullout wire basket for cleaning supplies.
The 12-foot configuration is only one of many possibilities, Moos says. A kitchen designer could use the same products to outfit almost any small space.
With appliances, the SieMatic kitchen would cost from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on materials, finishes and options. Finishes range from the least expensive laminate to wood and lacquer cabinets.
One reason European manufacturers got a foothold in American kitchens is that they offer full-function appliances that use space more economically than many American models.
"The appliances drive the design of the kitchen," Brody says. "Even people in Manhattan who come in and say, 'I never cook' want a double oven, a cooktop, a dishwasher and a barbecue."