Small kitchen with compact appliances, including a washer and dryer

Best appliances and design ideas for small kitchens

Your kitchen is the scene for some of the most important moments of your day. So, if it’s on the small side, you’ll want an efficient layout that makes the most of every square inch. Compact, space-saving appliances can help optimize your kitchen’s workspace, flow and storage to make it the hub of family activity it’s meant to be.

Whirlpool makes power-packed and feature-rich cooking appliances such as ovens, cooktops, ranges and microwaves that are designed for small kitchens as well as “skinny” appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers that minimize square footage while maximizing capacity and performance. Follow our guide and put your kitchen to work for your family with compact and flexible appliances that fit your space.

What is the best design for a small kitchen?

A small kitchen’s primary focus should be helping you with all of your food storage, preparation and cleaning needs—without wasting any space. A well-designed small kitchen does this by optimizing every inch to fit your lifestyle.

You can maximize space in small galley, U-shaped or L-shaped kitchens by using window sills to store items like cookbooks, serving dishes or decor. Try hanging utensils, pots and pans or cutting boards from upper cabinets or from hooks on the backsplash and install small shelves wherever possible. You can clear up your countertops by storing frequently used small appliances on the lowest level of upper cabinets. Use the upper shelves for appliances you rarely use.

Learn about the difference between counter height vs. bar height.

What are the best appliances for small kitchens?

Slim or undercounter refrigerators and compact ranges, microwaves and compact dishwashers are designed to offer the capacity and features you need to get the job done, all while taking up a fraction of the space.

When choosing appliances for your small kitchen or small kitchen renovation, think about your existing layout and how your family uses your limited space the most. These considerations will help you decide where you’d like to dedicate more space in your kitchen, and where a compact appliance will be more space-efficient. You’ll find plenty of ways to customize your small kitchen to make it the perfect fit for you and your family.

Shop all Whirlpool® Compact Appliances for small spaces, and read on for more compact kitchen ideas.

Single wall oven built into cream colored cabinets Single wall oven built into cream colored cabinets

Cooking appliances for small kitchens

Compact cooking appliances for small kitchens provide many options, functions and features you’ve come to expect from full-size appliances, but without the full-size footprint. When considering which small kitchen appliances to purchase, think about how often you cook, what you like to make and how many people you typically cook for. 

Understanding how you cook will help you focus on the features that matter most, such as the number of burners on a range or how much capacity you need in an oven or microwave.

Space-saving cooktops

If you need a full-sized oven, but rarely cook on the stovetop, one way to save space in your compact kitchen design is to opt for a wall oven and a separate two-burner cooktop. This will free up some valuable countertop space for other food prep or storage needs. If a two-burner isn’t enough cooking space for your meals, a skinny cooktop provides all 4 burners while still reducing width and depth to better fit within limited countertop space.

Compact wall ovens

In addition to giving you back some counter space, wall ovens also come in smaller capacities that fit into narrow kitchen spaces. These models can also be installed as double oven units, so you can bake multiple dishes at separate settings for a full family meal—plus dessert! Features that ensure excellent baking results along with streamlined touch control digital displays make these compact Whirlpool® wall ovens simple to use and clean.

Compact microwave over a compact electric range Compact microwave over a compact electric range
Microwave and range hood combos

Another way to save space in a smaller kitchen is by having one appliance handle the job of two or more. A microwave that doubles as a range hood can allow you to have fewer appliances and an even more streamlined small kitchen design. An over-the-range microwave also makes it more convenient to transfer items from the cooktop to the microwave.

Slim stoves and ranges

Slim range models shave off inches from the width of the appliance to save space. At just two feet wide or less, you’ll be able to fit a range or cooktop into a smaller kitchen design, whether it’s along a single wall, in a galley kitchen or an L-shaped layout. Best of all, you’ll still get all the burners you need to sauté, flambé and simmer your favorite stovetop recipes.

For families who love to cook and bake together, a skinny kitchen range can be conveniently incorporated into small kitchen designs. Check out 24-inch ranges in gas and electric to provide the performance you need while saving space. Learn more about range sizes and dimensions.

Range hoods for small spaces

When you’re cooking in a smaller kitchen, it’s important to have good ventilation so smoke, grease and odors don’t get trapped in your small space. Fortunately, slim range hoods pair perfectly with skinny ranges to help clear the air and add an extra touch of style for big impact in a small space.

Add a sleek look to your kitchen with a range hood or canopy hood in stainless steel. Small kitchens can include all the functionality you need and the style you want with kitchen hoods designed for your limited space.

Woman loading food into a skinny refrigerator Woman loading food into a skinny refrigerator

Refrigerators for small kitchen spaces

This essential kitchen appliance is available from Whirlpool in compact sizes with flexible storage designs that maximize your usable space. Store your family’s fresh foods with ease and have plenty of room for leftovers. You’ll find a range of features to help you organize and customize your cooling environment to meet your needs.

Placing your refrigerator in a corner or against a wall can help maximize usable kitchen space. Or, for particularly compact kitchens, consider using an undercounter fridge that can store the essentials.

Skinny refrigerators for saving countertop space

With narrow widths of 24”, these skinny refrigerators free up horizontal space, leaving more room for countertops or other appliances. Many models are also counter-depth for an installation that’s virtually flush with your cabinets, helping you reclaim precious space in your apartment or small kitchen.

Counter-depth refrigerators for smaller kitchen layouts

If width is not a concern but the space in front of your refrigerator is limited, a counter-depth model can give you back the extra inches you need. These appliances do not stick out as far into your kitchen and align nearly flush with your cabinets. These larger cubic foot models can be a good option over the lower capacity of skinny fridges when you’re designing for a small kitchen and have room for a wider model.

Undercounter refrigerators, wine coolers and ice makers for tiny kitchens

Undercounter and wine refrigerators can act as overflow storage in kitchens with compact refrigerators, or take the place of a standard refrigerator if space is particularly limited. 

Mini fridges like the Whirlpool® 24-inch Wide Undercounter Refrigerator can offer about 5 cubic feet of capacity to store beverages and cold snacks, and may even come with features like electronic temperature controls so you can create the ideal temperature for what you’re storing. For ice production, consider an icemaker like the Whirlpool® 15-inch Icemaker with Clear Ice Technology that can be installed almost anywhere within 100 feet of a drain with the help of a drain pump accessory (sold separately).

Compact dishwashers for small kitchen designs

Keep your limited counter space clear of dishes with a skinny dishwasher that still holds enough place settings to power through your family’s dinner dishes. Compact dishwashers are more narrow than standard dishwashers—sitting around 18 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 35 inches high—and are ideal for tight kitchen spaces.

Slim dishwashers for narrow kitchens

Some compact dishwashers like the Whirlpool® Small-Space Compact Dishwasher with Stainless Steel Tub come with specialty cycles so you can count on a thorough clean and small footprint. If your kitchen space can’t accommodate a built-in dishwasher, consider a portable model like the Whirlpool® Heavy-Duty Dishwasher with 1-Hour Wash Cycle that can be stored outside the kitchen and brought in as needed.

Compact laundry tower behind a sliding closet door Compact laundry tower behind a sliding closet door

Laundry appliances to maximize small kitchens and spaces

If your space is limited all around, kitchens can double as laundry centers to help you master household chores even more efficiently. Prep dinner while the washer runs, then swap the load or fold laundry while your casserole bakes. When everything is within reach, it saves you effort and time.

Whirlpool offers several space-saving laundry appliance combinations, such as a combined washer and dryer that can slide under your kitchen counter, a closet-depth model that can be hidden away, or a stackable unit that takes advantage of vertical space.

Compact washer and dryer units

These space-efficient appliances from Whirlpool provide laundry solutions that can be easily tucked into small kitchens for ultra convenient laundry access. From an all-in-one machine to stacked washer and dryer units, or full-sized front load washers and dryers connected with a stacking kit, you’ll find many options to accommodate laundry into your small kitchen.

Skinny refrigerator between wall and countertop of small kitchen Skinny refrigerator between wall and countertop of small kitchen

Small kitchen design ideas for maximizing space

In addition to using compact appliances and built-ins, some other design tricks will help you make the most of the space in your small kitchen by increasing your storage capacity and opening up the space to feel bigger:

  • Cabinets that go to the ceiling: Standard cabinets often leave up to 12″ of space at the top. The additional linear feet of shelving from choosing taller cabinets offsets the loss of some openness at the ceiling level. You’re trading dead space for storage space.

  • Use glass cabinet doors or open shelving: Trading some of your upper cabinets for open shelves or substituting glass doors for solid wood can help your smaller kitchen feel more airy and open. Plus, items will be conveniently visible or within reach.

  • Strategic lighting: Under-cabinet lighting, recessed lighting, and interior cabinet lighting will help brighten the space and make it easier to see while prepping and cooking food.

  • Lighter or more neutral colors: Darker colors can be elegant, but in a small space they can contribute to making the kitchen feel more cramped. Opt for bright whites or yellow, or light-colored wood. For appliances, white, stainless steel, or panel-ready appliances to match your lighter cabinets tend to work best for smaller kitchens. Compare black vs. white vs. stainless steel appliances to find the best choice and design for your kitchen.

Small kitchens packed with potential

There’s a reason small kitchens are coming back into style. The many benefits of a small kitchen include tighter work triangles for more efficient meal prep, less area to keep clean and combo appliances that provide extra functionality and flexibility for your square footage. With a wide selection of compact appliances to make your kitchen both functional and beautiful—you’ll be ready for your own small kitchen remodel. Whirlpool brand appliances are here to help.

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