Wherever room for property development is limited – and there are few modern cities where space isn't at a premium – the solution is to build up and have smaller interiors. However, urban living doesn't have to mean unmanageable, cramped conditions when it comes to housing. These days, good interior architects know how to squeeze maximum comfort, functionality and style out of.. well, out of a tight squeeze.
These kitchens, small enough to qualify – with no belittlement intended – as kitchenettes, come from homes in The Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, a country where where land is as precious as gold. Domestic properties in Japan are famous for their diminutive size, but this characterization is a little unfair – Japanese architecture is ingenious when it comes to minimalist design that is as practical as it is beautiful. Small in footprint, the installation of these kitchens has been overseen by experienced kitchen planners, rendering them completely capable of cooking up a storm of inspirational design ideas.
This kitchen has all the compact neatness that a small apartment necessitates, but eschews the spare minimalism that has become commonplace in contemporary interior design. Instead, fittings and storage space evince something of a classical look, a rustic warmth achieved through the use of paneled wooden cupboards painted in a regal teal-tinted blue-gray, a wooden bench surface fitted with two pairs of vintage taps, and a bare pine shelf lined with mason jars and handy pegs for hanging mugs. Perhaps the most tempting evocation of countrified domestic bliss is the inset wine rack.
If you're scratching your head trying to figure out how to squeeze more room from a space that simply won't cooperate, one tactic is to employ a little creative destruction. Take it easy – we're not talking about throwing a tantrum or playing Frisbee with the crockery, we're talking about contracting a professional renovation team to carefully knock down a wall or two, strip back the ceiling to structural timbers, and open up an attenuated space into a combined kitchen-dining-living arena for entertaining.
As with the photo above, many homeowners no longer conceive of their kitchens as essentially separate from the rest of the spaces in their houses that are crucial to defining domestic life. This couple – clearly contented and not at all feeling like their smaller-sized house is cramping their style – have hit the nail on the head by carving a kitchen, dining and living room from a single space, cleverly extending a kitchen bench into a continuous breakfast bar and dining table. The kooky set of display shelves set into the front of the kitchen end of the integrated bench is a nice touch, facing out across a broad pine-paneled floor into the living room.
Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics are a match made in architectural heaven, and this divine kitchen makes the most of the marriage of two design cultures, producing a clean-lined space that refuses redundancy but exudes warmth thanks to the judicious use of wood from waist height down, placed in eye-pleasing contrast to the pure white loftiness above. We love the paired-but-not-paired dining chairs, bringing a little asymmetry – very Japanese – to a deliciously regular room!
Probably the least eye-popping of these five rooms, this photo is a reminder of the practicality that's the essential foundation of any well-planned kitchen design. Cooking, eating, chatting, leaving notes on the fridge, washing up and putting away are, we have to admit, central to any communal household, and this plain and simple space exemplifies the kitchen as a focus for such basic activities. The point is that no matter whether you've got a kitchen with room for a squad of five-star chefs or a glorified closet crammed with a cooktop and a coffee pot, how you design your space is what gives your space its spirit.
Got a kitchen? Need a drink? Add a bar!