IKEA to the rescue!
A few months ago, I helped a good friend design the kitchen in her studio apartment. My first step and one that I highly recommend to everyone looking to maximize space is to find an IKEA store and go see what their designers can do with a very limited space. They have real floor models. You can walk through the store and see the layouts such as that for a 250 sq ft space. This is very useful since it provides plenty of ideas for the possibilities.
If you don’t have a store near you, their website offers space design software tools that are free and you can use to design your own space. You can layout the space dimensions in their software and then choose from their inventory of cabinets and appliances. Once you choose the cabinets the program places the furniture in the layout using proportional parameters. This facilitates that you have a precise design of what actually fits in your space. Since most of the cabinets are standard in measurement, you don’t actually have to buy their cabinets or their appliances. The design software allows you to print your layout. With the scale design, you know what you need to buy. And you can buy the cabinets from whatever vendor you choose. We priced both the cabinets and appliances from various vendors and she finally purchased IKEA cabinets. The appliances from various other places according the best pricing.
The space we had was 9 feet along one wall. This is the space from the corner to the front door of the studio. Since the place is small, she chose not to have a full kitchen oven. Therefore, she purchased a cooktop stove instead. This was placed over a two drawer kitchen cabinet. A dishwasher was a must for her, so she purchased an inside-cabinet washer from IKEA . This way the dishwasher ‘s front loading door is “dressed” with the cabinet wood and is not obvious. That was more for design than functionality purposes.
The counter top stove is 30” wide as is the cabinet under it. Next is a dual sink 36” wide. She actually purchased a cutting board that fits perfectly over one side of the sink (the one nearest the stove) that gives her a bit of counter space for cutting next to the cooking area. That second sink can also become a strainer by placing a strainer rack inside it. Therefore, she can use one side of the sink all the time for washing and the other half can be either a strainer or a cutting area. Finally the next 30” are for the dishwasher that fits inside the counter. On top of it is the rest of the counter space. I have included a top view of this layout for reference. The refrigerator is just standing across from this area.
The next thing is the overhead counter. Obviously, the same 9 feet are available in overhead space. There is no pantry and lots of pots and pans, plates, spice rack, utensils, etc. Overhead cabinets come in two basic sizes 30" and 39". I chose one full 39" cabinet to be placed over the dishwasher. On the opposite side of that is the stove. Over the stove we installed a microwave cabinet (essentially half microwave and half cabinet). This is another space saver since the microwave bolted to the underside of the cabinet looking like it floats over the stove and not taking up counter space. Finally, between the two overhead cabinets, over the sink we installed a 36” wide rack system for the pots and pans. It is very practical to wash them and place them overhead. She has a nice stainless steel pot set that looks good on the stainless steel racks. I have included pictures of the last layout so you can view the results. As I mentioned, in the opposite wall there is a medium size silver refrigerator and a wooden block table used for a small toaster oven available for when there is a need to bake anything.
We were very proud of our design. My friend is really enjoying her new functional space.