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G.E. Small-Scale Appliances

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This month marks my 10th year writing Small Spaces and as I look back over the decade, I note with amusement that, suddenly, small is really a hot topic. We have a bona fide small-house movement progressing in this country at last! There is nothing sudden about the popularity of living in the just the right size home, but no doubt one side effect of the declining real estate market is the renewed interest in smaller homes by many more people.

In the beginning days of this column, it was quite difficult to offer the American consumer specific information about how to buy products that made the design and function of a small home easy. Many items that I wrote about in those early years were only available in Europe, Japan or Australia. I do remember many times wishing aloud that the U.S. manufacturers would get on the bandwagon and offer appliances and furnishings that were designed with the smaller home in mind.

Downsizing is quite popular for two reasons right now: One is the 80 million strong Generation Y, or echo boomer generation, being enthusiastic about living in very reduced spaces and the other is that their parents, the graying baby boomers, are beginning to down-size in serious numbers. For some, the move is directly tied to the sagging economy. For others, the idea of living beneath one's means is critical in order to compensate for investment losses and unexpected financial setbacks.

The appliances featured here are made by the well-known G.E. Consumer & Industrial, a company that spans the globe as an industry leader in major appliances. Not only are the reduced dimensions space-savers, the sizes are energy conserving and follow the principal of just enough instead of overkill. First is the Monogram series Spacemaker 18-inches-wide slim dishwasher. The 18 inches instead of a standard 24-inches-wide dishwasher saves 6 precious inches when laying out major appliances in your work triangle.

Next, the GE stainless electric range that is only 24 inches wide and saves another valuable 6 inches.

The electric is model JAP02SNSS and the gas model is GAS025NSS. The tall slim G.E. 11.6 cubic feet Full Door Bottom Freezer/Refrigerator is only 23 1/2 inches wide by 70 7/8 inches high by 26 1/5 inches deep. Again, you will save another 6 1/2 inches by using this tower-shaped refrigerator that sells for just under $1,350. By using these slim appliances instead of standard-sized units, one can save 18 1/2 inches overall. The outcome of conserving this space might be room for a much-needed pullout pantry, a utility closet or space for a bank of drawers. Perhaps this gained space would allow for a tank-less water heater — a terrific energy-saving device. One thing that all good kitchen designers appreciate is how critical 2 or 3 inches can be in the successful layout of a working kitchen.

These days, another concept gaining traction is the idea of improving, not moving! If, when you remodel your old kitchen, you include space-saving appliances, you can gain function without moving walls beyond the existing footprint of your home.

Keep in mind a couple of well-known money saving tips when you embrace a kitchen renovation: Leave the plumbing where it is and try not to move bearing walls. The most attractive quality about living in a smaller home is the simplification of lifestyle. You won't find yourself entertaining scores of people when your dishwasher is only intended for two. However, you might meet friends for picnics at concerts on the green or gather at a favorite restaurant instead. Everyone who has prepared a Thanksgiving meal for 10 knows what a big job it can be and there is something to be said for alternative methods of enjoying friends and family. Less clutter, less complication and more tranquility is the goal for the small-home aficionado.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at christinebrun@sbcglobal.net. To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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