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Nontraditional appliance sizes tackle unique kitchen projects

If you’re a homeowner building an addition, a casita or another type of small space with kitchen capabilities, David Beer has a suggestion: Google or log onto Pinterest to look up the term “New York City apartment.” The move will educate you on just how small an apartment kitchen can really be, and it may also help you understand that there are plenty of kitchen possibilities, even if your kitchen appears too small to be functional.

“No matter how big your (space) is, it will feel like a mansion compared to those,” Beer said with a laugh.

Beer is the owner of Allentown, Pennsylvania-based YesterTec, a business known for its minikitchen concepts where kitchens — and appliances — are built into spaces as furniture pieces. It’s a unique concept popular in high-density living areas like New York and California, where many residents must make the most of small spaces.

Through Las Vegas’ building boom, homeowners could count on traditional appliance sizes for ovens, cooktops, microwaves and refrigerators. But there are those situations that call for unconventionally small appliances. The good news is that there are plenty of options out there, and you won’t have to sacrifice aesthetics or much functionality either.

Standard sizing

The standard appliance sizes found in the majority of today’s Las Vegas homes are 30-inch-wide ovens, cooktops, microwaves and range hoods. Refrigerators are typically between 30 and 36 inches wide and usually offer between 18 and 30 cubic feet of space.

In Las Vegas, smaller, odd sizes are most often found in casitas, guest houses or butler pantry environments, said Angie Jenkins, who handles builder and outside sales for Ferguson Enterprises in Las Vegas. She may occasionally see a request for appliances needed in an older home whose original cabinet layout was configured for smaller appliances, but not often.

“If someone’s remodeling something in the Scotch 80s, for example, they’re typically gutting it, and they’re going to be putting in all standard sizes,” she said.

Jeremy Rohloff, co-owner of Las Vegas-based PriorityAppliances.com, said that some owners of older homes may — either for budget or other reasons — not want to reconfigure cabinets, so they’re faced with a smaller selection.

“When you do get those calls for that 24-inch (oven), it’s kind of a last-resort situation and they don’t really want to tear out those old cabinets,” he added.

Unique sizes, unique uses

Jenkins and Rohloff do see requests for the atypical 24- or 27-inch-wide oven and range instead of the traditional 30 inches. Rohloff is able to find those sizes from manufacturers such as GE, Frigidaire and Whirlpool, and they typically don’t take much longer to order than other products if the appliance is in stock. Where it sometimes can become costly and time-consuming is if something can’t be found directly from the manufacturer and requires working with a wholesaler or reseller, which occasionally happens.

Bosch and KitchenAid offer plenty of smaller sized cooktops, according to Jenkins. She also sees homeowners of large custom homes adding small “components” to their existing kitchen cooktops as part of a kitchen remodel. For example, they may already have a standard 30-inch cooktop unit but may add two unique gas or electric burners that are each 15 inches wide.

Doing so usually requires rearranging or expanding the ventilation, Jenkins said, and the homeowner may also need to budget for extra electrical outlets to accommodate the new components.

Overall, Jenkins said most smaller or uniquely sized appliances come in sleek, contemporary, minimalistic designs.

“The nice thing is they can work in a lot of different places, either smaller spaces like high-rises or even full-size custom houses (as component pieces),” she added.

Different size refrigerators

Refrigerators can be found in some slender, sleek sizes as well, Jenkins noted. She points to SubZero’s IC24C model, a 24-inch-wide, standard height, column refrigerator with two freezer drawers. The model either comes with a stainless-steel door or it can accept various cabinet panels to integrate into the kitchen layout.

For those wanting a classic look, the SMEG two-door refrigerator embraces a classic ’50s style with rounded corners. It, too, is only 24 inches wide and is good for a diminutive kitchen with an old-school vibe.

Doing it all differently

For Beer, it’s about creating kitchens that blend into the environment. A trained architect, Beer found that while working in Florida he would create homes with modern standard-sized appliances only to find retirees living in the spaces. Those residents brought with them more traditional furniture and knickknacks in other areas of the home. Beer noticed an aesthetic clash.

“You had these homes where the modern kitchen was exposed to the great room that was full of all these antiques. It was this completely different vibe … a mismatch,” Beer said.

From that experience, he came up with the idea of creating minikitchens whose appliances are hiding in drawers and behind cabinet doors that could have a classic aesthetic on the outside to match the rest of the home while the usually smaller appliances could be hidden behind those aesthetics and used when needed. In time, he added contemporary versions of the kitchens to work in other environments such as small New York City apartments, tiny houses and other small spaces that still demanded some level of kitchen functionality.

He even utilizes UL-approved ovens and cooktops that can be stowed away despite getting hot after use.

“That was the piece of it we had to figure out, but we did,” he said.

Beer looks to custom brands like Fisher &Paykel, Uline and Summit for tiny 9-cubic-foot refrigerators, single-door dishwashers, two-burner cooktops that he’ll build into pieces of furniture, armoires and some entire kitchen spaces as small as 6 feet wide.

“It’s a lot like a Murphy bed. It’s there if you need it,” he added.

His approach to downsized kitchens is as much about choosing to separate wants and needs as it is maximizing space.

“It’s about paring down to the basics. Some people will even use toaster ovens. … You can’t have appliances for every little thing you’re doing. Some people will do a little study beforehand and figure out what is really necessary. Then you can live better,” he said.

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