With the size of our kitchens predicted to get smaller, is a foldaway kitchen worktop the future? It looks impressive, but surely there are easier – and cheaper – ways to make the most of your kitchen space…
Most of us would probably appreciate a little extra worktop space to play with in our kitchens. So I was intrigued to take a closer look at one such space-enhancing solution on display at Grand Designs Live last week, which takes the idea of integrating your kitchen appliances to the extreme.
It was a remote-controlled ‘folding’ kitchen top design that packs your sink, oven, hob, TV and breakfast bar away and out of sight when you’re not using them.
Priced in the eye-watering region of £135,000 on a made-to-measure basis, it’s probably not likely to venture out of the showroom and into many real-life homes any time soon.
But future gazers might argue that as smaller-sized living spaces become the norm, this is exactly the sort of approach designers will need to take to make our living, cooking and eating areas more multi-functional.
Putting the crystal ball aside, here at Which? we’re increasingly seeing pint-sized appliances offering more immediate solutions for the space-challenged kitchen of today.
Here are a few examples, courtesy of our kitchen product experts…
The dishwasher and fridge-in-a-drawer
Spotted at this year’s Ideal Home show, Fisher & Paykel’s fridge-in-a-drawer and dishwasher-in-a-drawer are stylishly contained in sleek black drawers.
With the CoolDrawer, you can set the compartments to different temperatures including cooling and freezing – apparently removing the need for bulky refrigeration appliances.
The Dishdrawer range is designed to appeal to washing-up averse singles or couples. Alternatively there are a fair few counter-top dishwashers on the market. These sit on the work top and are able to hold six place settings, and are worth considering if it’s under-worktop space you’re lacking.
Slimline washing machines
Washing machine capacity continues to go up courtesy of larger drums – but there aren’t many top performing slimline washing machines about for kitchens with limited floor space.
If you’ve got a narrow kitchen corner to fill, though, a top-loading washing machine might be the answer. We’ll be testing some slimline top-loaders from Whirlpool, Hotpoint and Hoover shortly – results are due in July.
In future, you might even find washing machines designed to blend in with bathroom rather than kitchen cupboards…
The mini range cooker
You don’t need a roomy country kitchen for a range cooker these days. Enter the mini range cooker – such as this model from Leisure – with the same dimensions as a standard freestanding cooker but the cooking extras you’d expect from a range model.
If you’re really short of space though, a combination microwave – which marries oven, microwave and grill features – could be an alternative. You can even rustle up a Sunday roast in one.
Small appliances get even smaller
With lots of ‘essential’ gadgets vying for space on your worktop, it’s a good job some small appliances are getting smaller, too, or doubling up to offer more than one function.
The latest Magimix Nespresso coffee machine – the aptly-named Pixie – is just 11cm wide, while the Tefal Vitacuisine food steamer packs down compactly for easy storage.
Or how about the Morphy Richards Intellichef multi-cooker to slow cook, steam, bake, boil, shallow fry, rice-cook, warm and reheat food in one appliance?
Is your kitchen a bit of a tight squeeze? Would you be prepared to spend more on any of these products to save space? What are your space-saving kitchen tips and tricks?