top of page


Compact Kitchens

July 11, 2023

The speakers discussed the various aspects of designing compact kitchens and why it is becoming the go-to solution in apartments in a city like Mumbai

The land being costly, the apartment in the city is getting compact which means the kitchen space too gets smaller. This makes a small yet compact kitchen which facilitates fitting in gadgets and appliances without cluttering the space vital.

Designing for the younger vs the older generation

When you are working in a city like Mumbai, compact is the inbuilt environment that designers get. “Very few architects get to design lavish larger kitchens. When we are working with the older generation, they want traditional things like atta chakki. Now all the appliances and gadgets are being pushed into the kitchen. For example, a washing machine is also now a part of the kitchen. This is because it’s not only the kitchen, but the entire house/apartment is compact. In the case of millennials in the studio apartments, the aspirations are different,” opines Milind Pai, Chief Architect, Milind Pai – Architects & Interior Designers.

Lalita Tharani, Co-founder & Principal Architect, Collaborative Architecture adds, “Today’s kitchen design is quite different than what we used to design 15-20 years ago. In the studio apartments, the younger generation aspires to go more modern, minimalistic and high-tech. The gadgets and appliances to be used have to be the new age ones which are multifunctional. For example, a sink that closes out and becomes a counter and opens up when we need to use the sink is useful. So we can have more space to work with.”

The experience centres set up by the appliance and kitchen makers help to open up the client's vision and help designers. Photo Courtesy: Kitchen Ideas

Optimum utilisation of space

During Covid times high-end apartments were not doing well and hence a lot of developers were putting their money into building affordable compact apartments in the suburbs. “In a show flat that we designed for such an apartment was 365 sq ft 1BHK with two bathrooms, one guest room and a kitchen which according to new by-laws can be passed as an alcove. It was a 6 ft by 8 ft kitchen in an L shape,” shares Santosh Wadekar, Design Director, StudioSW.

He further adds, “The issue in such compact spaces is generally fitting in the refrigerator because of the spaces that need to be left behind and the sides. The only solution is going for built-in which comes with lesser depth but is three times more costly. Practically, the ones who are going to buy those tiny apartments can’t afford them. But since it was a show flat, we did that. But overall, the space felt cramped.”

Talking about how space planning varies, Pai shares, “When you have to squeeze in washing machine and dishwasher into the kitchen, the platform height has to either go variable or it has to go at a higher height. And, these things need to be discussed with the client at the beginning. We also need to keep in mind the dimensional measures of the gadgets. Sometimes clients might not be able to envisage the requirement and only realise it later. So, mock-ups are important.”

Manish Dikshit, Founding Principal, Aum Architects adds, “For a compact kitchen, it is possible to fit in all the necessary appliances by using built-in appliances but it has to be planned well keeping in mind how you want the kitchen to be used. “Another challenge is the rigidity of the clients in terms of placement of appliances. For example, in one project the client wanted the dishwasher placed on the left side of the sink and initially, we planned to have it on the right-hand side.”

Ruchi Sharma, Principal Designer, RS.De Experiential Design Firm feels that an open kitchen format will suit a compact kitchen. “Kitchen being an interactive space, open kitchen format works well. Designing a visually open kitchen with glass barriers also works. This will also help in keeping the smells and fumes out of the living room.”

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more. Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more. 

Storage in a compact kitchen

Talking about storage in a compact kitchen, Lalita shares, “Families in the traditional household want to store grains and masalas for about a year. So, we have to make space for storage literally anywhere possible; for example, storage in the ceiling or the passages. The kitchen storage is extending outside the kitchen.”

Ruchi adds, “Most of our client profile is Marwadi and Gujraties and they have a practice of having a granaries room. This helps us to segregate what they use on a daily basis versus their weekly requirements and this is a huge help in planning the storage.”

Miloni Sampat, Principal Interior Designer, Miloni Sampat & Associates feels that designers have to be creative about storage. “We have started putting drawers in kitchen skirtings. We can also put drawers on the side of the sinks and keep the washing utilities there. Since spaces are very stringent, we have to work on optimum utilisation of the space. Even in overhead shutters, we have started incorporating spice racks.”