With a push towards minimalism and the trending “tiny house” living, kitchenettes are becoming more commonplace as additions to tight apartment spaces, guesthouses, and offices. These mini-kitchens provide extra storage and food prep capabilities for entertaining guests all throughout the home. As room-sharing services like Air BnB become a new way to make income on the side, a kitchenette is a great way to stand out from the competition and entice potential guests.
Consider these specific design tips when renovating or building out a kitchenette in your home.
Calling upon a professional kitchen design consultant can help with coming up with a layout for the kitchenette. The cabinet doors and hardware set the tone and theme for the kitchen. Depending on how much space you have to work with, cabinets can provide different storage options — from traditional cabinetry to hide away any unsightly items to an open-shelving plan that makes for easier access. The eye is drawn upwards, so use the vertical space to your advantage with ceiling-high cabinets. If the kitchenette has a wet bar area, you can even feature LED-lit acrylic shelves and wow your friends and family with your liquor collection display.
Since space may be limited in your basement, home bar, in-law suite, or office, you may want to look into compact or “under cabinet” appliances. From small refrigerators to ovens and dishwashers in a variety of sizes and finishes, you don’t have to skimp on quality or style for your kitchenette. Standard sizes range between 32 to 36-inches, but compact appliances can be reduced to 24-inch or 28-inch widths. If space is too tight for appliances, consider a convection oven and a mini-fridge or refrigerated drawers. This way, you or your guests will still be able to use the area to make small meals and keep groceries fresh or store beverages.
An advantage of working with a kitchenette is that the total square footage of the area is likely to result in much lower costs compared to that of a full-sized kitchen. With countertops, you may find yourself being able to afford a higher-end material. There are certainly pros and cons to all countertop options to consider, with the price of materials and installation being a major factor in the decision process.
Here are some costs* to keep in mind when choosing your countertops:
- Laminate: $8 to $20 /sqft
- Butcherblock/wood: $30 to $80 /sqft
- Stainless steel: $80 to $90 /sqft
- Soapstone: $80 to $100+ /sqft
- Granite: $75 to $100+ /sqft
- Concrete: $100 to $150 /sqft
* Not including installation fees.
Along with the countertop material, the placement of the sink is crucial — would you prefer to have the sink facing the rest of the space so you can chat with guests while it’s in use or would it make more sense for the sink to be in an area with lots of surrounding counter space?
The kitchen goes beyond being an area to prepare food — it’s also a gathering and entertaining space. Since most kitchenettes don’t have enough space for a table, existing counter space is often the only way to incorporate seating. Making the most of the area is a huge priority — as seen with designing the most efficient layout and using compact appliances. The three main height options for kitchen island or kitchenette seating include: table, counter, or bar stools.
Keep these measurement tips in mind when selecting the right seating for your kitchenette:
- A chair for a lowered countertop should have a seat height of about 17-inches.
- If your countertop has a height of 35-inches, consider a breakfast barstool.
- You will likely need keep a distance of 9-to-13-inches between the seat and the counter for comfort.
A well-designed lighting plan can bring together all the exciting elements of the kitchen with the sleek cabinetry to the sparkling stainless steel appliances.
Chances are that the kitchenette is in an area that has established lighting or natural light from new windows, but if you’re in a position to come up with a new layout then consider these options:
- Track or monorail LED lighting: This is a great option if you want to spotlight different areas of the kitchen like above the stove or to illuminate a particularly dark corner.
- Recessed lighting: A common rule for placement of recessed lights is to install 4-inch lights four feet apart and 6-inch lights six feet apart.
- Pendant lighting: These lights should hang about 12-20-inches below an 8-foot ceiling. (Add 3 inches for every additional foot of ceiling height.) There should also be roughly 30-36-inch clearance above countertops.
Since the kitchen is a high-traffic area, flooring options should typically offer water resistant and non-slip qualities. Tile, hardwood or laminate, and linoleum are all durable and easy-maintenance choices for a lower-level kitchenette. Since this area is usually small compared to a full-sized kitchen on a main floor, the costs can be kept down while also ensuring the space will be stylish for years to come.
Some eco-friendly flooring options include:
- Ceramic or natural stone tile — Ceramic tile is manufactured by using natural clays and is a great choice for those who suffer from allergies since it doesn’t retain odors, allergens, or bacteria.
- Linoleum — Some people may confuse linoleum with vinyl, but the two cannot be more different. Vinyl is actually a synthetic material made of potentially harmful chlorinated petrochemicals, whereas linoleum is created from a mixture of linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments and ground limestone.
- Cork — This option has anti-microbial properties that reduce allergens in the home, is fire retardant, easy to maintain, and also acts as a natural insect repellent. Depending on the quality and upkeep, cork can last upwards of 10 years.
- Bamboo — A popular option in recent years for its durability and sustainability, bamboo flooring can be customized to match any decor and can often be found for half the cost of traditional hardwood.
If building out a kitchenette in your basement, consider the return on investment (ROI) when looking at the value of your home. A finished basement with a wet bar or kitchenette area is more likely to pay off in the long-run. While it might be on the higher end of the scale, real estate professionals have conveyed a 70% ROI on finished basements. Whether it’s a weekend DIY project or a full-scale renovation, the convenience of having an additional kitchen setup can also provide inexpensive options for visiting friends or family.
Charles Parker is the Digital Marketing Manager for Feldco, the #1 Window Supplier and Home Renewal Company in the Midwest, based out of Chicago, IL. A home renovation and DIY enthusiast, Charles also enjoys trying new loose leaf teas from around the world and staying active with cycling and hacky sack.