The Smallest Kitchen in NYC

April 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm Architecture

By Victoria Benatar

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When I first saw the tiny, narrow galley kitchen pictured at left above, I immediately wondered how in the world I could tackle the problem. It was so cramped and cluttered and the appliances were so poorly arranged, that the kitchen was practically unuseable. Although my client was not a big chef, both he and I thought fixing up the kitchen would be a good investment because it would help raise the price of the property.

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The original design of the kitchen

The original design of the kitchen recalled the design of an airplane – functional, compact, but certainly not conducive to cooking anything more involved than a microwave dinner. First things first, I knew we would need to add add a dishwasher, a proper sink and adequate counter space. When we brought the contractors in, we discovered the reason that the original design of the kitchen was so basic – the apartment didn’t have the electrical capacity to support modern appliances.  This meant that before beginning any sort of remodeling, we would have to do an electric upgrade first.

I then put together some drawings for the remodeled kitchen based on the available space.  Since the said available space was so limited, the design was spatially very economic and relied on compact appliances. Although I was happy with the result, I was curious about other options before going ahead and building it.

The first drawing of redesigned kitchen

The first drawing of redesigned kitchen

Before signing off on the first design I drew up, we probed the adjacent walls to see if we find more space behind them – probing a wall involves drilling small holes into the walls. Fortunately, we were able to find enough space to open up the kitchen with a ‘U’ shaped design that allowed us to fit in a recessed refrigerator (12” x 24”) and to increase circulation throughout the kitchen.

Kitchen demolition plan

Kitchen demolition plan

As a rule of thumb, whenever I’m confronted with a tight space, I always try to see if there are hidden or closed off areas to tap into to create more space. Sometimes I only find an inch or two, but sometimes I find a couple of inches. Sometimes I find nothing. Regardless it’s always worth a try.

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Given the challenge it presented, this kitchen is one of my best designs. In just 39 square feet, we fit a full kitchen that includes an under the counter 24″refrigerator/freezer, a small sink and slim dishwasher, a two burner cooktop, a 30” microwave/convection oven/hood appliance plus storage under and above the countertop.

Ultimately this tiny, unusable kitchen was converted into a full kitchen – all that was required was a little imagination and a lot of attention to detail.

It’s important to note that to continue the idea of storage/amplitude we created a fake panel on the left side not to include another material in this tiny space.

All the appliances used are stainless steel. The cabinets are made with thermo foil doors to match the living room’s accent color. We stripped the vinyl floor and bared the existing wood floor which was consistent with the rest of the apartment. For one person, this kitchen has it all!



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  1. astrid says:

    Nice!! and how costly in time and money was it?

  2. mary says:

    Is this tiny kitchem made, designed by Architect Victoria Benatar?
    Congratulations Victoria. Perfect work! Perfect design!
    Perfec use of space!
    I am going to need some advice from you !!

  3. Charles says:

    Why not use the covered part of the kitchen as garage space ?


  4. Robin says:

    my kitchen is WAY smaller than this one! You haven’t seen small until you’ve seen my kitchen.

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