Compact Kitchen

Mike Jensen and his wife Isabelle wanted to create a home for their family that embraced the dramatic Otago landscape. This led them to build a modern rural house on a property in Saddle Hill, near Dunedin at the base of the South Island of New Zealand

Within the house, the kitchen is a busy and social space that reflects the relaxed lifestyle of the couple and their two young children. Its small size proves an elegant, functional kitchen is possible in a tight space.

Designers. Designer. Mike Jensen Materials Benchtop: 4mm plate stainless steel
Cabinetry: Charcoal-stained ply with Danish oil
Handles: Haliday Baille
Backsplash: Tiles


Concept Design

A key feature to the Jensen kitchen is its size. Tucked into a corner of the living area, this isn’t a huge kitchen, but within the small floor plate is an elegant, functional kitchen that offers flexibility for a modern, changing family. Mike also saw this as an opportunity to show how a small kitchen doesn’t need to be constrained to small appliances; indeed, the wide products can actually make a tight space more efficient.

Appliances were a key driver of the design, so it is interesting to see the unique configuration of Fisher and Paykel products. The Jensens have adopted a distributed kitchen approach meaning appliances are placed where they will be most readily used and where they look best in the layout rather than following the usual conventions of kitchen design.

Rather unusually, this kitchen has been an evolution over a period of years. When the Jensens first moved into the house the kitchen hadn’t been built. Needing the basics of sink, cooktop and oven and some bench and storage space a temporary makeshift kitchen was quickly thrown together (and ended up being used for two years).

Mike and Isabelle made the choice to spend money on high spec fittings like drawers from Hettich, as well as a full suite of 90cm wide Fisher & Paykel appliances, and saved money by Mike building the kitchen cabinetry himself.

While it took a while for Mike to find the time to make the kitchen (hence the two year ‘temporary’ kitchen) it did give them time to live in the house and work out how their family would best use the kitchen.

Mike explains that we’ve moved away from the outdated idea of the working triangle. He says, “I think the role of cooking is far more dynamic and complex than just three points. If you look at how you use the kitchen, from making a cup of coffee to preparing a meal, it’s far more complex than a triangle. So, I think in designing a kitchen, you need to think about those interactions, and design around that.

Mike explains that we’ve moved away from the outdated idea of the working triangle.


Developed Design

Within the kitchen, Mike and Isabelle decided on an arrangement that consisted of a block of tall storage and then an L-shaped benchtop with a bank of 900mm wide drawers underneath. An Integrated DishDrawer™ Wide and CoolDrawer™ are concealed within this grid while s a 90cm Pyrolytic Built-in Oven and a smaller 600mm unit of cutlery drawers are under the bench adjoining the living area.

The 90cm Gas on Glass cooktop (with VentSurface Island above) has been placed to the western end of the bench, near the junction between the two benches. The 90cm Pyrolytic Built-in Oven has been positioned, not underneath the hob, but at 90º in the peninsula. The appliances are still right next to each other but this arrangement frees up drawer space under the hob for spices and pots. And perhaps most significantly, by removing the oven from under the hob, Mike and Isabelle were able to maintain the entire panel of under-bench drawers as only stained plywood.

Mike and Isabelle also knew they would need a lot of refrigeration with a busy young family. A CoolDrawer™ supplemented the stand-alone ActiveSmart™ Fridge; handy for entertaining as well as day-today use by the family. The ability to easily change the setting of the CoolDrawer™ has meant that while it’s usually reserved for beverages, when the family had a surplus of meat from the farm to freeze, they were able to convert the CoolDrawer™ to a temporary freezer.

Also seamlessly concealed in the 900mm wide modules is the wide Integrated DishDrawer™. The wide model, filled and run once a day, is ample for their needs, and has saved them drawer space where they might have otherwise needed a second unit.

1 2 2 3 4 6 6


Detail Design

This kitchen also proves that good design needn’t be hampered by a small space. “The kitchen doesn’t need to be huge. There is a certain beauty in having it small. Everything is accessible in just a couple of steps,” Mike explains. The Jensen’s use of 900mm units throughout their kitchen also shows that you don’t need a large space to accommodate this wider proportion. Indeed, the horizontality of the drawers actually makes the space feel more generous.


Products &

  • 1200mm VentSurface Rangehood Island

    VentSurface has been designed to provide a simple and efficient means of removing steam and cooking odours from the kitchen through automatic adjustment.

  • 635mm ActiveSmart™ Fridge – Bottom Freezer

    Active Smart technology has been given a new addition, an integrated water dispenser providing you with chilled filtered water and an internal ice maker for clean, crisp ice cubes on demand. With no impact on space in the freezer or refrigerator door, this is the perfect addition to the Active Smart family.  

  • 900mm CoolDrawer™ Multi-Temperature Refrigerator

    The CoolDrawer™ has been designed to change from refrigerator to freezer at the touch of a button. It is built on the concept of distributed refrigeration, combining ActiveSmart™ Technology with a drawer-based design that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, home or entertainment area. The CoolDrawer™ provides five temperature settings to deliver total flexibility — freezer, chill, fridge, pantry and wine modes, merging intelligence with convenience.

  • 900mm 9 Function Pyrolytic Built-in Oven

    Fisher & Paykel ovens are designed with simply perfect cooking in mind. The 90cm Pyrolytic Built-in Oven includes a self-clean function for the ultimate in convenience, while clean lines and flat panelling in black reflective glass, with a stainless steel and mirror finish complement the style and elegance of any modern kitchen.

Downloads for Designers

Sign up to be notified of new downloads and case studies