Author & Blogger

Christine Brun Portrait

Christine Brun is an expert in lifestyle trends, how to live smaller, and interior design topics.

She shares this broad knowledge with you as well as articles about women's issues in her blogs.

Small Appliances

Small Appliances

Where do you find appliances that fit in a tiny kitchen but are just like those used in luxuriously large kitchens? That is the million-dollar question that frustrates and irritates anyone who attempts a quality remodel in a micro-apartment or tiny cottage. For as long as I've been covering the topic of small-space living, I have been baffled by major U.S. manufacturers' apparent lack of interest in this consumer need.

The obvious answer must be that the market share for downsized appliances is not worth it to manufacturers. Also often, when a kitchen designer tries to steer U.S. clients toward products produced for the rest of the world, they freeze up. They are dubious about purchasing a product with a name they don't recognize. We designers are exposed to a variety of worldwide manufacturers when we attend the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, but it is often difficult to convince clients that there are good product brands outside of General Electric (or GE), Dacor, KitchenAid, Viking and Sub-Zero and Wolf. Perhaps a little flexible thinking could solve some severe space challenges in a stylish way.

One little-known resource is Fagor Electrodomesticos. Based in Spain, it is the fifth-largest appliance manufacturer in Europe, as well as the leading appliance manufacturer in both Spain and France, and the No. 1 induction cooktop producer in the European marketplace. Of the many subsidiaries all over the world, Fagor America has been located in the U.S. since 2005. This is the Fagor 24-inch-wide Dual Fuel Range with a European convection oven. Adjustable legs, cast-iron burner grates and electronic ignition on all burners come in a unit that is 23 5/8 inches wide by 23 5/8 inches deep and that ranges between 35 7/16 inches high and 37 1/64 inches high.

SMEG is an Italian company that offers a freestanding gas range (model C24GGXU). Vittorio Bertazzoni Sr. founded the company in 1948 in northern Italy. Although it is little-known here, SMEG is one of Italy's leading home appliance manufacturers today. The Bertazzoni family's entrepreneurial history began in the 19th century with family members starting out as blacksmiths.

Fisher & Paykel, a company that started in New Zealand in the 1930s, went through the same vetting process with the American market. Few question the quality and dependability of their well-known refrigerator drawers today. The company now offers 24-inch wide all-gas or dual-fuel ranges.

GE does make a 24-inch range, but it is not nearly as sophisticated or stylish as that of other European-style manufacturers. Hotpoint and Summit produce models, too, but they lack that star quality. So where can you find top-tier styling in petite packages? Check into Avanti's 24-inch-wide range; it's good looking, and it costs around $1,000. Avanti is a U.S. manufacturer that's been in the marketplace for 44 years. It initially made a name for itself for its compact-to-apartment-sized refrigerators, upright and chest freezers, wine chillers, beverage coolers, microwave ovens, laundry products, and mini kitchens.

Often, a range becomes the focal point in a kitchen — a centered design element with a special backsplash or hood. For that matter, it can be equally challenging to locate a sharp-looking exhaust hood that will match up to your range or cooktop. It is quite difficult to locate a chimney-style hood; you will find more options for under-the-cabinet-type vents. You may have to conduct an internet search because most sources have just one model at this highly desirable width. Try the Compact Appliance website, which has a European-style wall-mounted professional-looking stainless steel 24-inch-wide hood. The bottom line is always that the more specific styling details you want in a small appliance, the fewer options will be available, and you may certainly find yourself shopping for a product that is more popular overseas.

Photo Credit: Piotr Miazga

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