Lessons From Apartment Therapy's Small, Cool Kitchen Competition

small cool kitchen competition entry photo brussels

Apartment Therapy runs the small, cool contests every year, including one for kitchens; cleverly, they break it into categories including owning (American kitchens where people go nuts) renting (where people have more limited options) and international (because they really are different) This year's international winner is notable; it is in a rental, so one doesn't want to spend a lot of money, and it is cleverly made out of old green filing cabinets.

But other than that, I found the entries in the competition to be informative and at times, disturbing.

small cool kitchen competition entry photo typical american

With few exceptions, these small (under 120 square feet) kitchens were loaded up with huge fridges (often 48" double door units), four burner ranges and double sinks. An American idea of 120 square feet is entirely devoted to food preparation and the eating is outside of it, often both at an eating counter and a dining area abutting. Only one that I could see had a 24" fridge, and of course, Julia lives in Brooklyn and built hers into 56 square feet.

small cool kitchen competition entry photo brooklyn

Renters have fewer options and often get more creative, like Alysia here.


In much of Europe and Asia, kitchens are more like Maria's here; small fridges, smaller stoves.

small cool kitchen competition entry photo mark bittman

As Mark Bittman, standing in his 42 square foot kitchen, noted,

When it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don't count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience. To pretend otherwise -- to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on a kitchen before learning how to cook, as is sadly common -- is to fall into the same kind of silly consumerism that leads people to believe that an expensive gym membership will get them into shape or the right bed will improve their sex life. As runners run and writers write, cooks cook, under pretty much any circumstance.

Oprah small kitchen shock photo

But then most North Americans think differently. Oprah was completely shocked upon seeing how a Danish family, with a glorious, huge modern apartment, had such a tiny fridge. More at Small Fridges Make Good Cities: Oprah Tours Fridges in Copenhagen

small cool kitchen competition entry photo donald chong

Donald Chong's concept Kitchen

I suspect that in a couple of years we will see a very different smallest, coolest kitchen on Apartment Therapy. The trend to local, seasonal food will lead to a more European form of shopping, where you pick up what you need for dinner on the way home. The involvement of family in cooking will lead to the elimination of those stupid peninsula eating bars that separate family from kitchen and we will be going back to a more farmhouse-kitchen style where the table is in the middle and everyone is part of the action. The big 48" wide fridges will be declassé, the hummers of the kitchen.

More kitchens at Apartment Therapy

More on Small Kitchens:
Can Big Kitchens Be Green?
The Kitchen of the Future Today
Big Things from Small Kitchens
The Best Small Kitchen Designs for Cooking Large and Living Small

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