As housing prices climb, we're all trying to do more with less – and sometimes that means making do with a smaller kitchen. Whether you're renovating or designing and building from scratch, here's our advice on how to maximise space when choosing appliances for a small kitchen.
1. A convection microwave
If you're dealing with a seriously small kitchen, a convection microwave could be the answer to some of your lack-of-space woes.
"A convection microwave is a great option for a small kitchen or holiday home," says CHOICE's kitchen queen, Fiona Mair.
"They can be used just as a microwave, convection oven, or grill, and there is also a function to combine two modes so it speeds up the cooking time."
They're also cheaper to run than regular ovens, which could help shrink your electricity bills, too.
A convection microwave is a great option for a small kitchen or holiday home
A built-in model might be the way to go as it'll save on bench space – although these do tend to be more expensive than freestanding/benchtop models. All convection microwaves need at least 10cm clearance at the sides, around 15cm at the rear and 15–40cm on top, so you'll need to factor this into your kitchen design.
"Replacing an oven with a convection microwave can work if you don't have a large family and you don't do a lot of baking. Due to their smaller size, you can only really cook one type of food at a time, but they can accommodate a roast easily," says Fiona.
2. A petite cooktop
If you're short on benchtop space, there are plenty of styles of cooktops available – gas, ceramic and induction. We've tested many induction cooktops that measure 60cm wide, ranging from $599 to just over $3500. (Bear in mind that you'll need to make sure your cookware is suitable for induction cooking.) While we haven't tested ultra-slim versions, you can filter our cooktop reviews by width to find something that fits your space.
If you're thinking of going for induction, be sure to read our induction cooktop buying guide first.
Gas and ceramic cooktops also come in 60cm-wide models, ranging from $269 for an Ikea gas cooktop to $1899 for an AEG gas cooktop.
"Another option might be a portable induction cooktop. You can just pop it away in the cupboard when you're not using it, freeing up space," says CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale.
We've tested this portable induction cooktop from Ikea which measures just 30 x 39cm.
And if you decide to ditch the oven altogether, here are five surprising things you can cook on your cooktop.
3. A slimline fridge
"We generally don't promote the idea of running two fridges, but if your kitchen is tiny – and you happen to have a garage – then you could have a small fridge in the kitchen for convenience, with a second fridge or even deep freeze in the garage," Ashley says.
Or you could opt for a slimline fridge. Here are five fridges that are less than 55cm wide:
- Esatto ETM207W (fridge/freezer): 55cm
- Haier HRF220TW (fridge/freezer): 54cm
- Seiki SC-220AU7TMW (fridge/freezer): 55cm
- Stirling STR-H239W (fridge only): 55cm
- Westinghouse WRM2400WD (fridge only): 55cm
Check our expert fridge reviews before you buy to make sure you're getting a fridge that's up to scratch.
4. A slimline dishwasher or dish drawer
"A slimline dishwasher is an easy choice for a small space, but depending on the size of your household, you could opt for a dish drawer instead," says Ashley.
Here are some dishwasher options (from cheapest to most expensive) that are a great option for tiny kitchens:
- Measuring 85 x 45 x 60cm, this Bellini slimline dishwasher costs $512 and washes 9 place settings.
- This Omega benchtop model measures 44 x 55 x 50cm and washes six place settings. It costs $599.
- If you'd prefer a slimline option rather than a benchtop model, there's also an Omega slimline dishwasher measuring 85 x 45 x 60cm that takes 10 place settings. It costs $699.
- This slimline Haier model is 45cm wide, instead of the standard 60cm. It costs $959 and washes nine place settings.
- Bosch makes a slimline dishwasher measuring 82 x 45 x 57cm. It costs $1299 and fits 10 place settings.
Not all of these dishwashers perform equally well, however. Make sure you check our expert dishwasher reviews before you buy.
5. A multi-cooker or all-in-one kitchen machine
If time is of the essence and you want to cull the amount of appliances you have in your kitchen, we think a multi-cooker is a good buy.
"For a diminutive kitchen, less is more: you could buy a multi-cooker to replace your slow cooker, pressure cooker and rice cooker – many also have functions that can replace your electric frypan, yoghurt maker and steamer," says Ashley.
That frees up a whole lot of cupboard space!
For a wider range of functions, choose a multi-cooker that has a slow cooker setting with a high and low setting.
And then there are all-in-one kitchen machines. The Thermomix TM6 does the job of more than 20 kitchen appliances, taking care of chopping, beating, blending, whipping, weighing, milling, kneading, mincing and more.
Not sure if an all-in-one kitchen machine will live up to the hype? We've answered the question of whether a Thermomix is really worth it.