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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kitchen Efficiency Comes in Small Packages

Integr60 cm wide fridge (on right)
I've recently moved over to a new laptop and have been spending the past few weeks going though old files and bookmarks, deciding what's worthwhile and what needs to be purged.  The purging was somewhat fortuitous because I rediscovered an article from fellow designer Becky Shankle.  Becky wrote about an idea she's been percolating about designing around smaller appliances, and it just so happens that I'm designing a kitchen for someone who would do well to pay attention to Becky's advice.
Let's design our kitchens around small appliances. This would allow our real focus to be on useable work and storage space, nicely appointed accents, good lighting and integration with other living spaces. 
It's all about efficiency.  If we have a small space to work with (as is the case with my client) then it's imperative we use every square centimetre of space we can.  We can't rely on "bigger is better" because we don't have room for bigger.  This isn't a problem if you're building a 4500 square foot monster home like those that seem to pop up in my neighbourhood like big ugly stuccoed weeds.  But as our cities because more dense, and space becomes more valuable, sub-300 square foot apartments will become more common.

An apartment that small just doesn't allow you to use that 36" french door fridge.  30" is going to be the biggest and 24" would be even better.  Becky refers to the 80/20 rule and applies it to the fridge ... so most of your eating comes from a small portion of the volume of your fridge.  It makes sense.  The other day our fridge went on the fritz and we had to downsize to a 24" bar fridge while the main fridge was repaired. It was amazing the number of items we just composted because they'd been in the fridge for so long and just never used.  Most of the European homes I've been in use a 24" (60 cm) wide fridge or narrower.

Becky offers other reasons for using a smaller fridge:
  • Our power use would go down.
  • We'd be more inclined to eat fresher food, since there'd be less space for prepackaged food. We might lose weight, like our European comrades.
  • Contents would be more visible; less waste and fewer forgotten items at the back.
  • We might have more room for countertop and cabinet space.
I have a hard time arguing with any of those reasons.  And as I continue going through my laptop and purging the things I don't really need, it has dawned on me that I might not actually NEED that 500 Gb hard-drive.

Nah!

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