This Is the Difference Between a Kitchen and a Kitchenette

published Jul 25, 2020
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If you’ve ever seen a real estate listing that highlights a “compact kitchen” or “combination kitchen,” you’ve caught a glimpse of a kitchenette. As the name suggests, kitchenettes are essentially smaller versions of a kitchen, but with some important distinctions. Kerry Melcher, the in-house real estate expert at real estate company Opendoor, gave Apartment Therapy the lowdown on exactly what makes a kitchenette different from a standard kitchen.

What’s the difference between a kitchen and a kitchenette?

Size isn’t actually the true differentiator between a kitchen and a kitchenette, Melcher says. It’s what is in the space, and the types and sizes of those appliances.

“While kitchens feature countertops, shelves, and full-size appliances like a stove and refrigerator, kitchenettes mostly include a few small essentials,” Melcher says. Think: a mini fridge and a cooktop.

Can you cook in a kitchenette?

You can certainly cook in a kitchenette. You may not have all the big, grand appliances and counter space that would come in a fully decked-out kitchen, but you have everything you need to create a hearty meal—albeit probably just for yourself.

What does a kitchenette typically include?

As far as appliances and features, a kitchenette is limited—but it still has the essentials that you need.

“A kitchenette may have a microwave, sink, hot plate, and a small fridge,” Melcher says. “They often feature some storage, such as one or two cabinets or shelves. Many people who live in homes with a kitchenette also invest in appliances like a food steamer, electric kettle, toaster, and instant pot for food prep and cooking.”

The most important things to look for in a kitchenette, she says, are good counter space and an abundance of outlets. And if you want to make your kitchenette your own, Melcher suggests changing out the storage shelves to something more unique, and then taking those with you when you eventually move.

How big are kitchenettes?

Kitchenettes aren’t all the same size, but they’re definitely too small for full-size appliances. Often, you’ll find them in corners of a larger living space, allowing enough room to bring in a wheeled island as well.

What kind of properties usually come with a kitchenette?

Kitchenettes show up in a range of properties and spaces—everywhere from guest rooms and in-law units to short-term rentals and smaller homes. They also appear in backyards, Melcher says, especially in homes with larger yards that include an outdoor kitchen.

Ultimately, though, whether there’s a kitchenette or not comes down to zoning.

“In many cases, if you see a kitchenette it means that the unit probably isn’t zoned for a range or oven, as that crosses the unit over to a different dwelling type and many properties have restrictions,” Melcher said.

What’s the benefit of getting a place with a kitchenette?

You mean aside from eating out all the time? Some renters probably don’t need to pay for a place with an entire kitchen that they’ll likely never use.

“Kitchenettes are ideal for those who don’t need a full kitchen for cooking or entertaining,” Melcher said. “They are able to accommodate different living situations, like for a college student, nanny, friend, or grandparent, and their needs for privacy and autonomy.”