April 15, 2016

Saving space without sacrificing function

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Three developers use all the tricks in the book to create small but workable kitchens

Vancouver developers have now had well over a decade to adapt to the Incredible Shrinking Condo. And one of the most challenging rooms in which to maximize space has been the kitchen.

Cressey was one of the first to take note of this opportunity. The developer has been refining its trademark CresseyKitchen for the better part of a decade.

“The CresseyKitchen started out as a certain layout and evolved into a philosophy,” said Hani Lammam, vice-president of acquisitions for the developer.

“We don’t have small kitchens. They might look small, but they function big.”

Philosophy or not, some concrete principles are involved. The bigger appliances are set in an appliance wall, which also incorporates a washer/dryer or pantry space, leaving more countertop space. The space between this wall and the rest of the kitchen creates a hallway to the living space — or, as Lammam puts it, “the hallway becomes part of the kitchen.”

The condos at Kings Crossing, a new mixed-use community in Burnaby, refine the developer’s ideas.

“It takes what we’ve done over the years and gives you the options with the same footprint but with two different layouts,” Lammam said.

Both kitchen layouts are U-shaped and include an appliance wall. The placing of pantry space, range, dishwasher and microwave vary, however.

Bosa Properties specializes in something the developer calls BosaSpace. It seeks to maximize space so that “every square foot has the functionality of three square feet,” said Macartney Tonello-Greenfield, Bosa’s director of marketing.

One of the ways in which the developer increases kitchen functionality is through its ExtenTable. This transforms a traditional kitchen island into a long table.

“You can be prepping your meal, you have all that functionality, and then you can pull a full table out and have the space to seat eight guests,” Tonello-Greenfield said.

In the three-phase West project in False Creek, Executive Group Development has sought to maximize kitchen space through reducing portions of counter space from a depth of 25½ inches to 13.

“That was a way to keep bigger appliances in a very small kitchen,” said Atmosphere Interiors’ Caroline Boisvert, the designer for the project.

To keep the kitchen feeling and looking more open, Boisvert and her team “styled the hood fan all the way up to give a sense of space and volume.” She adds:  “Oftentimes when we have a fan, there isn’t a lot of efficient storage in that area. By doing the cabinetry in this way, we were able to maximize on storage and negative space to make it feel nice and airy.”

They also added a living-space-facing wine cabinet in most of the U-shaped kitchens “to make better use of the last cabinet that’s always a bit hard to reach from the other side of the counter.”

The trend towards an open kitchen space is here to stay, Boisvert figures. If anything has changed, it’s a reduction of sink space, from two bowls to one.

Developers and designers might soon reach the limit of just how much space can be saved while still having a properly functioning cooking area.

“You can have smaller kitchens,” Cressey’s Lammam said.  “But are they truly functional, and can you cook in a kitchen that is smaller? That’s a decision we have to make and have been very conscious of. We do not want to sacrifice function.” •

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