Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

General Electric Gets Specific About Small Space Appliances

Few things are more problematic when decking out a small space than kitchen appliances. The right-sized ones tend to be designed for college dorm rooms–crummy finishes and features, manual defrost freezers. The right-quality and design ones tend to be made for 1000 sq ft McKitchens–doublewide fridges, 16 burner stoves, plate warmers. But some appliance makers seem to be waking up to the growing need for high-quality, high-functioning kitchen appliances suitable for small spaces. GE is one of those companies. They have designed a prototype kitchen that fits into a mere six foot space; they are also holding an open competition to find the best small space kitchen designs the crowds can muster.

The prototype kitchen includes all the appliances you’d expect of a full-service kitchen: induction cooktops, sink, two cooling drawers, dishwasher and microwave/convection oven. The unit was designed so it would only require one water line, which builders will appreciate. The only thing that’s not clear is if there is any storage. But because all of the appliances fit below counter, adding top cabinets would be quite easy. The whole thing will cost around $15K.

As mentioned, the prototype kitchen (video above) is part of a bigger effort by GE, which includes a  competition in partnership with FirstBuild, a crowdsourcing appliance-design platform (bet you didn’t know there was one). The public is being asked to submit designs for a kitchen that fits into a 7′ x 25″ footprint; they must include a refrigerator with freezer, cooktop, oven, microwave, dishwasher and garbage disposal. The Wall Street Journal says GE will release plans for the prototype kitchen later this month, so people can modify and improve upon the design (we’re not exactly sure how this sequence will work as submission deadline for the competition is June 23rd. Why wouldn’t they release the prototype before the competition so designers could work the appliances into the designs? Just sayin’).


There are currently 12 submissions like the one above; the top four will receive $2500 each. Following the competition, GE plans to begin production on a one-stop-micro-kitchen as soon as later this year. We’ll keep you posted as that happens.

It’s heartening to see a big company like GE getting on the micro-bandwagon. Just because you choose a small space doesn’t mean you don’t like quality stuff, and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t like to cook.

Via Wall Street Journal

  • Rebecca Cody

    When I built my own small home, a 300 sf houseboat, in 1986, I wanted a kitchen where I could make Thanksgiving dinner, even if only for three or four people. My apartment sized stove had four gas burners and an oven that accommodated a 12 pound turkey. My fridge was also apartment sized, but large enough to house lots of fresh veggies, fruits, leftovers, etc. Because eating well and healthily is important for everybody, I didn’t want anything less, and I used about 96 square feet, including the table with storage beneath. I never needed more kitchen space and I never regretted using the square footage I did. It worked out well and I did fix Thanksgiving dinner one year, as well as many other company meals. People loved being in my cozy space.

    One thing I notice in many of the current small space designs is that they aren’t practical for older people. It’s true a lot of young people who live alone find these spaces appealing, but having to get down below the countertop to find that maverick tomato or to dig out last night’s soup leftovers is not practical for arthritic knees. Yet many people who could enjoy a small space are older folks living on Social Security and often not much more. People in this situation need solutions that don’t include climbing ladders to a loft (like I did on the houseboat) or scrambling down low for things they use daily. So let’s include the needs of seniors in our design ideas.

  • clarkbennett

    Really, 15K and it doesn’t include storage? No.

  • Mary Coleman

    I agree with Rebecca, that tiny designs so often don’t work for people as they age or with disabilities, and there are a LOT of us very interested in tiny living. Also, appliance quality these days is so poor that it’s creating a crisis, filling landfills quickly, due to products that break down within a year or two can can’t be fixed, or even catch on fire. So, what happens when a microwave unit within a kitchen unit breaks down? Does the entire kitchen unit have to be replaced, for another 15k, a couple of years later?