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 petite cooktops available - gas, ceramic and induction. We've tested many induction cooktops that measure a slim 60cm wide, ranging from $648 to just over $3500. (Bear in mind that you'll need to make sure your cookware is suitable for induction cooking.)
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 $2099 for a Miele gas cooktop.
"Another option might be a portable induction cooktop. A friend of mine has one and while it's only a single 'burner' cooking zone, it's great because he can just pop it away in the cupboard when he isn't using it, freeing up space," says CHOICE appliance expert Ashley Iredale.
We haven't tested any portable options so we can't offer any advice on them, but they may be worth investigating.
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 then you could have a small fridge in it 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:
- Haier HRF220TW (fridge/freezer): 54cm
- Hisense HR6TFF230S (fridge/freezer): 55cm
- Kelvinator KTB2302WA (fridge/freezer): 54cm
- Westinghouse WRM2400WD (fridge only): 55cm
- Westinghouse WTB2800WG (fridge/freezer): 54cm
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:
- This Omega benchtop model measures 44 x 55 x 50cm and washes six place settings. It costs $599.
- This slimline Haier model is 45cm wide, instead of the standard 60cm. It costs $679 and washes nine place settings.
- This Delonghi dishwasher measures 85 x 45 x 60cm and washes 10 place settings. It costs $949.
- Bosch makes a slimline dishwasher measuring 82 x 45 x 57cm. It costs $1149 and fits 10 place settings.
- This compact Bosch dishwasher is a little more expensive at $1349, but it fits eight place settings and measures just 60 x 60 x 48cm, giving you more wiggle room in the kitchen.
5. A multi-cooker
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.
Not sure about a multi cooker? Here are the pros and cons.