Have you ever heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? It is based in the theory that having less means you become more inventive with what you have, and it is a great outlook to apply to small-space living. Fun fact: the National Apartment Association reports that apartments in the United States are shrinking. The average studio apartment, for example, has shrunk from 614 square feet in 2006 to 504 square feet. We are living in smaller apartment spaces, and smaller means ever more inventive choices. With this in mind, we want you to think carefully about your apartment and the available room you have. Before it gets cluttered with stuff you don’t need, This article covers the essential appliances for your space to help make your apartment feel like a comfortable, useable, and practical place to be.
1. Grilling Machine
When space is a premium, the appliances you choose need to earn their place in your kitchen. We think a grilling machine is an essential appliance because it can serve double duty as both grill and cooktop. So what do you need to think about when buying a grilling machine? There are many models on the market, and the type you buy will depend on your budget.
First, look for a grilling machine with an adjustable hinge. It needs to be able to grill a thick steak just as well as it grills bacon or a panini. Second, some models have a lay-flat function, where the lid flips to give you double the grilling space. You should also consider one with removable plates, for ease of cleaning, and don’t forget about adjustable heating control.
Remember, if the grilling machine is going to be your main source of countertop cooking, you want it to be good. It’s worth consider the health benefits of a grilling machine, as some claim to reduce the fat content from your food by up to 42 percent.
2. Slow Cooker
We love slow cooking. Picture the scenario: It’s 6:30 am and you’re dressing for work. You know it’s going to be a long day, but you aren’t worried because your evening meal is already starting to bubble away in the slow cooker. By the time you get home, exhausted, your apartment will be filled with the lovely aroma of your meal. Best of all, slow cooked food always tastes great because the ingredients – from meat to fish to vegetables – are slowly simmered to perfection over several hours. In addition great flavor, slow cooked food is generally healthier because of the way the slow cooker works.
Every apartment would benefit from a slow cooker. But in our world of increasing speed, we find it bizarre that an appliance invented in the 1940s, which cooks so slowly, can actually save you time. The key to the slow cooker, of course, is remembering to add the ingredients before you leave for the office, but with the evolution of the slow cooker over the past decades it has become even easier to “set and forget.” New models, for instance, have multi-settings, and programmable timers, so the cooker comes on at the correct moment. Best of all, they’re compact, and easy to store. But if cupboard space is a premium, then the slow cooker can sit on the countertop.
3. Microwave Combination Convection Oven
The microwave combination convection oven might be a mouthful to say, but the new models are so versatile you may never need a conventional oven again. These versatile units grill, roast, steam, and boil, with some models even offering an air fry feature that cooks perfect fries with a spoonful of oil.
So far we’ve stressed the need for compact design, but the microwave is the exception to that rule. A microwave is relatively compact by design, and if this unit will replace a conventional oven, you’ll appreciate the extra size for larger cooking tasks. Even some of the more advanced models could fit on a standard countertop easily.
Advantages of a Microwave Combination Convection Oven:
- Compact design makes them ideal for small spaces
- Multi-functional: A good microwave can replace a standard oven, the grill, and even the fryer
- Microwaves cook really quickly
- They are a healthy way to cook, with modern microwaves offering steam oven facilities. And you use less oil and fat.
4. Compact Fridge/Freezer
A good fridge/freezer is essential, and some of the newer compact fridge/freezers are optimized for under-the-counter placement. It can be valuable to consider a model that has a separate freezer door, because it will save you having to open the fridge to get to the freezer compartment, reducing the efficiency of your unit. You should also go for a model that has space for large bottles and a salad compartment too. But remember, it is a compact unit that is only a fraction of the size of a standard fridge/freezer: some models are only 34 inches tall and others weigh only 52 lbs. As a result, you might have to compromise.
Advantages of a Compact Fridge/Freezer:
- Can be stored on or under the countertop
- Energy efficient: Fridge/freezers are more efficient when they are full. There’s less empty space to chill
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Cheaper than a full-size fridge/freezer
- As good as the full-size models for performance and reliability
5. Compact Cooktop
Compact cooktops can transform an average countertop into a makeshift range and come in gas, induction, and electric varieties, and usually come in one or two rings. We would always recommend the two ring compact cooktop, because it gives you more versatility, but it depends on the space you have available. The induction cooktops are really efficient, with quick heat and cool functions to save you energy. They are lightweight (typically 14 lbs.) and portable, and when you’re done cooking, you can stow it away easily, because of its slim design.
Advantages of a Compact Cooktop:
- Portable and lightweight
- Easy to use; just plug-in and it’s ready
- Choice of gas, electric, or induction cooktops
- Energy efficient if you get the induction cooktop: Instant hot and cold
- Store easily because of their streamlined design
6. Countertop Oven
If the microwave option doesn’t do it for you, you might want to take a look at a countertop oven. They’re compact, efficient and easy to clean, and best of all, with a 0.6 Cu. Ft. capacity, it can easily accommodate a 12-inch pizza. The countertop oven does everything a normal convection oven can do, only it’s smaller. It will even cook a 3 lb. chicken! The countertop oven is, on average, 1.5 feet in height, and weighs in at around 14 lbs. So, if you are limited for space and have a cheaper microwave that doesn’t have frying and roasting options, this oven is a useful thing to own.
7. Washer/Dryer Combo
The compact washer and compact dryer combo are a popular option for space savings, but a crunch of the numbers reveals that the more efficient use of space is the washer/dryer combo. Consider your space: if you go for a compact washing machine and a separate compact dryer, the space it occupies will be greater than the space of a standard washer/dryer. The other thing to think about is that most compact washing machines are top-loaders, and that creates problems about where you store it. If the kitchen is compact, then you really should consider an under-the-counter machine, and that isn’t going to be a top-loader.
The washer/dryer combo machine consumes the footprint of one machine and can easily fit under the counter. It has load capacities that rival those of their separate unit counterparts and, dollar for dollar, they often end up being more cost effective than purchasing a separate washer and dryer.
Advantages of the Washer/dryer Combo:
- Space saving: Better than the option of buying a separate compact washer and dryer
- Greater load capacity
- More efficient as the loads will be greater and so the need to use it decreases
- Cheaper than buying two compact models
- Standard size means it will fit under a standard countertop
- No washing line
8. Food Processor
We chose the food processor over the blender, because the processor is multi-functional. They’re also pretty cheap too, depending on your budget. While some deluxe models come close to $400 in price, decent models can be acquired for around $40. The other advantage of a food processor is that it does everything a blender or a juicer does. That means you’re cutting down on wasted space, and saving big bucks in the process.
And if you wanted to go ultra-compact, then there’s always the option of a hand-held processor. Admittedly, it has a smaller capacity than a full-size processor, but storage is easy and if you’re living on your own, that won’t be a problem. They can be expensive, but they are multi-functional and a great choice.
9. Stick Vacuum Cleaner
There are so many models of vacuum on the market that it can be confusing to know which model is right for your needs. Canister vacuums are typically more powerful, but they are hard to store and not very compact. A stick model would be ideal for an apartment, because they store easily and are efficient. If you can, try and purchase the bagless model, as this will impact the environment less (you don’t have to discard all those vacuum bags in the trash), and they’re skinnier than the bagged variety. Most come with a tool pack, consisting of furniture attachments and wands, and some even have brush roll technology for pet hairs and deeper pile carpets. Stick vacuums can be relatively cheap to buy, but as with other essential appliances, if you wanted to splash out on a top of the range model, you would be looking somewhere in the region of $400 to $600.
Advantages of a Stick Vacuum Cleaner:
- Great if you have restricted storage
- Comes with attachments that make cleaning your apartment easier
- Pet hair technology: Some vacuums are purpose built to handle pet hairs and deeper pile floorings. They also have filters that reduce odors
- Can be cheap to purchase
- Some have a cordless feature
- Easy to empty and no vacuum bags
- Energy efficient
10. Compact Dishwasher
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean that you should become a slave to the dinner dishes. The solution? Buy a compact, portable dishwasher. Most compact dishwashers offer a six place setting capacity, so if you are on your own and don’t feel like punishing your hands in hot, soapy water, you can let the dishes pile up until you have a full load.
The other great feature of a compact dishwasher is that once the dishes are washed, it doubles up as extra storage space. When you need clean cutlery, or a fresh plate, lift it out of the dishwasher.
The best bit about a compact dishwasher is that it is efficient and energy saving. It’s worth noting, for instance, that a compact dishwasher could use less water than you would washing the same amount of dishes by hand.
With these appliances in your corner, you can maximize your space while taking advantage of many of the perks of modern living. We think we’ve covered the most essential, but of course there will always be other appliances you might want to add based on your needs. Need freshly ground coffee beans? Well, you might want to seek out an optimal coffee grinder and save on your morning latte. Get your day started with a fresh smoothie? There are great options to consider in juicer technology. Regardless, remember what we said at the beginning: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Be inventive with your choices of essential apartment size appliances and you can make some much needed space in your smaller living area.