The kitchen is the realm of the appliance. They can be large or small, and with a very wide range of technical characteristics and costs. This guide looks at the principal appliances for cooking and conserving food and kitchen clean up. The focus is on their physical insertion to cerate comfortable work flows that simplify activities in the kitchen. Indispensable appliances include the oven, refrigerator and dishwasher, and natural cooktops and exhaust hoods. Today’s ovens and refrigerators offer much better insulation than in the past, meaning they can be located beside one another, when required by the layout of a kitchen.
Dimensions. They vary from country to country. The European standard is 60 cm in width, while in America this value ranges between 76 and 90 cm, increasingly more popular among those who love to cook.
Typologies. The typologies of domestic ovens have increased greatly in recent decades. Together with traditional gas ovens, almost obsolete, today’s options include static electrical ovens, increasingly more common in the ventilated version, microwaves, steam ovens or combination models that offer a microwave and an electric oven in one appliance.
Position. In general, to ensure the most natural work flow, the oven should be located as close as possible to the cooktop. It is recommended that both appliances share the same base cabinet, or to place the oven in a nearby tall cabinet. This is the most common choice today, above all in kitchens with more than one oven, for example an electric model and a microwave or steam oven. Placing the oven in a tall cabinet makes is a more practical because it means the cook does not have to bend down, in addition to being safer when small children are about. When purchasing more than one cooking appliance, they can be arranged vertically or horizontally, to create a single cooking station. Examples include an oven flanked by a microwave set above a handy food warmer, ideal for filling eventual gaps because it is the same height as a low drawer.
Dimensions. They vary greatly, though in general terms they range from small models, 60 cm in depth, to 70 cm models, and from 80 to 210 cm in height. Narrower 54 cm models are available, as well as wider 120 cm versions. Their capacity is measured in litres and the choice of a refrigerator depends on how much food one keeps in the house and, perhaps more importantly, the size of the family.
Typologies. The most common models are free-standing, complete models that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen. The other option is a built-in model, for tall or base cabinets, when dealing with smaller dimensions; they are often fitted with a freezer drawer. There are also combined refrigerator that feature a full freezer section with its own door, or American models of much larger dimensions, some with water dispensers and ice machines.
Position. To ensure natural, linear and fluid movements in the kitchen, the layout of operative areas should follow the normal flow of cooking. Everything generally begins with the preparation of food, often stored in the refrigerator, which makes it a natural starting point, before the sink and countertop.
Additional appliances. The refrigerator is often accompanied by a stand alone freezer, ideal for larger families, a wine refrigerator, in an under counter or built-in version that provides different temperature zones for different wines, and a blast chiller, generally in an under counter version, the choice of those who really know what they are doing in the kitchen.
Typologies. Dishwashers are available in standard dimensions and larger or more compact versions, ideal for small spaces or built-in options. Traditional models feature an upper and a lower rack, with a small basket for cutlery, inserted vertically. More recent models feature three racks, the uppermost of which is for cutlery, laid horizontally, while the lower rack is fully extendable and can be raised up to better arrange pots, pans and dishes without having to bend over.
Dimensions. Dimensions vary between 45 to 60 cm in width, with an average height of 82 cm for traditional dishwashers, and a width of 60 cm and a height that varies between 45 to 60 m for more compact models. Choosing the right solution means carefully considering capacity, expressed in place settings, in order to understand whether the desired model is suitable, also based on the number of times it will be used each day or week.
Installation. Dishwashers are generally built-in, which means it is necessary to consider the height of the baseboard to ensure that the front of the dishwasher opens properly. Built-in models include fully invisible versions that literally disappear – controls included – behind the cabinet fronts, or partially invisible models with an exposed upper panel with a handle, display and controls, or built-in exposed models, without a facing panel matching the rest of the cabinet fronts. Finally, dishwashers are also available in free-standing models.
Position. The natural position for the dishwasher is near the sink, for easy connections to the drain, and because it is handy to be able to rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, without the risk of dripping on the floor. This appliance can be built into a tall cabinet or, more frequently, in a base cabinet. It must be noted that dishwashers are too heavy to be installed in suspended base cabinets.