50 stunning photos reveal what microkitchens are like in New York and San Francisco

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Carmel Place micro kitchenKathy Willens/AP
  • Like the cities themselves, microkitchens in New York and San Francisco can be either dazzling or dreary.
  • The concept has become increasingly popular amid a housing shortage in crowded urban areas.
  • Whether they're coveted or criticized, microkitchens have given rise to many creative solutions for saving space.

 

As cities become more crowded, and urban real estate becomes less and less affordable, many residents are turning to tiny units as a way to avoid being priced out.

The concept of microliving has its critics and advocates. For some, it's a creative exercise in adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. For others, it's a last-stop solution to rising rents in their host city.

This is especially the case in New York City and San Francisco, the two most expensive rental markets in the US.

In these cities, apartments are often sold with tiny kitchens that cram storage and appliances into a single unit. While some units are equipped with high-tech features like motorized cabinets and retractable minibars, others are plagued by cluttered countertops and makeshift stoves.

A glimpse into these microkitchens reveals the stunning divides of the cities themselves.

Like many neighborhoods in New York and San Francisco, tiny kitchens can be either dazzling or dreary. Take a look.

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For many years, New York's 400-square-foot regulation prevented the construction of tiny apartments like this one.

In 2013, though, Mayor Bloomberg announced a city-sponsored contest for developers to create microapartment designs.

In 2013, though, Mayor Bloomberg announced a city-sponsored contest for developers to create microapartment designs.

That same year, the Museum of the City of New York debuted a 325-square-foot model apartment featuring creative ways to maximize space.

That same year, the Museum of the City of New York debuted a 325-square-foot model apartment featuring creative ways to maximize space.

The kitchen included under-the-counter appliances and a foldaway table that could double as an island.

The kitchen included under-the-counter appliances and a foldaway table that could double as an island.

New York City's first microapartment building, Carmel Place, began welcoming residents in 2016.

New York City's first microapartment building, Carmel Place, began welcoming residents in 2016.

While the kitchens are small, residents have access to amenities like a rooftop terrace, a gym, grocery delivery, and communal events.

While the kitchens are small, residents have access to amenities like a rooftop terrace, a gym, grocery delivery, and communal events.

Resident Matthew Alexander prefers the minimalist lifestyle of his studio apartment to sharing space with roommates.

Resident Matthew Alexander prefers the minimalist lifestyle of his studio apartment to sharing space with roommates.

The building's developer enlisted Ollie, a co-living and microhousing startup, to help with the design.

The building's developer enlisted Ollie, a co-living and microhousing startup, to help with the design.

Ollie furnished the apartments with amenities like housekeeping, free WiFi, and a dry-cleaning pickup service.

Ollie furnished the apartments with amenities like housekeeping, free WiFi, and a dry-cleaning pickup service.

After Carmel Place opened in Manhattan, the construction of microunits with tiny kitchens expanded into Brooklyn and other boroughs.

Empire Bath and Kitchen has led many of the microapartment designs in Brooklyn, including the kitchen below.

The company also designs small kitchens for residents in Queens.

Ollie is now providing amenities for a 43-story high-rise in Long Island City, which is considered the largest ground-up collection of shared apartments in the US.

Ollie is now providing amenities for a 43-story high-rise in Long Island City, which is considered the largest ground-up collection of shared apartments in the US.

Residents of the building's two- and three-bedroom microsuites often share a kitchen.

Residents of the building's two- and three-bedroom microsuites often share a kitchen.

Over in Brooklyn, Ollie has partnered with the rental building Caesura, which has tiny kitchens featuring stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops.

This $1.29 million, 790-square-foot micro-apartment features a hidden pantry and motor-powered cabinets.

This $1.29 million, 790-square-foot micro-apartment features a hidden pantry and motor-powered cabinets.

Read more: This tiny New York apartment has a hidden 60-inch flat-screen TV and motor-powered cabinets

The counter includes grooves for drying plates and cups, along with a pullout cutting board that allows residents to toss scraps directly into the trash can below.

The counter includes grooves for drying plates and cups, along with a pullout cutting board that allows residents to toss scraps directly into the trash can below.

To conserve space, the loft of ReadyMade magazine Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wagner includes open cabinets instead of full shelves.

To conserve space, the loft of ReadyMade magazine Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wagner includes open cabinets instead of full shelves.

This rare tiny kitchen comes equipped with a full oven and stove.

This rare tiny kitchen comes equipped with a full oven and stove.

In many cases, having a microkitchen requires residents to get creative with organizing their fridge and freezer.

Others sacrifice storage space to make room for appliances.

For this unit in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens neighborhood, the developer added as many cabinets as possible to make up for the limited amount of space.

The design team at New York City's eXd-lab created a custom cabinet system called the U-WALL, which folds out to reveal a miniature bar.

The kitchen in this 350-square-foot SoHo penthouse was designed to function like a space twice its size.

The kitchen in this 350-square-foot SoHo penthouse was designed to function like a space twice its size.

Read more: This tiny NYC penthouse costs $2,143 per square foot, but every detail was designed so it 'functions like one twice its size' — take a look inside

It includes a built-in speed oven, a dishwasher, and a Franke water filter.

It includes a built-in speed oven, a dishwasher, and a Franke water filter.

The entire apartment was designed by Graham Hill, the founder of the lifestyle and design company LifeEdited.

The entire apartment was designed by Graham Hill, the founder of the lifestyle and design company LifeEdited.

Hill also designed a slightly more spacious unit in SoHo, which sold for $790,000.

Hill also designed a slightly more spacious unit in SoHo, which sold for $790,000.

The 420-square-foot apartment cost $365,000 to renovate.

The 420-square-foot apartment cost $365,000 to renovate.

Like the apartment, the kitchen includes a number of space-saving features such as hidden storage and a microwave tucked into the wall.

Like the apartment, the kitchen includes a number of space-saving features such as hidden storage and a microwave tucked into the wall.

The original listing said the apartment was "designed by geniuses for geniuses," with sliding walls, a built-in sound system, and an air filtration system.

The original listing said the apartment was "designed by geniuses for geniuses," with sliding walls, a built-in sound system, and an air filtration system.

Source: 6sqft

Microkitchens can also be found in tiny homes like this one, which was displayed in Manhattan's Herald Square for one night in September.

Microkitchens can also be found in tiny homes like this one, which was displayed in Manhattan's Herald Square for one night in September.

It has since been moved to Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, for a temporary stay at the world's largest tiny home community.

Earlier this year, comedian Kevin Hart curated a tiny home in New York for Booking.com. Hart told USA Today that he partnered with the travel booking site because the design fits his lifestyle.

Earlier this year, comedian Kevin Hart curated a tiny home in New York for Booking.com. Hart told USA Today that he partnered with the travel booking site because the design fits his lifestyle.

"I love to do things that coincide with what I do, and the way that I move," Hart said. "Being that I am a guy who is constantly on the road, constantly traveling, where I’m staying becomes a priority."

Source: USA Today

Dunkin Donuts has also debuted a tiny home design in New York City. This one runs entirely on coffee.

Dunkin Donuts has also debuted a tiny home design in New York City. This one runs entirely on coffee.

Read more: Dunkin' Donuts built a tiny home that's powered by coffee — and it cost just $10 a night to stay there

The 275-square-foot structure — which includes a full kitchen — was formerly available for rent for just $10 a night.

The 275-square-foot structure — which includes a full kitchen — was formerly available for rent for just $10 a night.

Even New York City offices can install microkitchens, thanks to designs like this one.

To prevent clutter, the wall on the back of this kitchen features space for hanging or drying pots and pans.

But not all New York microkitchens are quite as sleek. Many are downright dismal, while others are woefully overpriced.

But not all New York microkitchens are quite as sleek. Many are downright dismal, while others are woefully overpriced.

For around $2,900 a month, New Yorkers can rent this tiny Upper West Side apartment, which has a microkitchen with virtually no counter space.

This kitchen in a Bushwick apartment looks brand-new, but it was not designed with any space for a dishwasher or microwave.

Originally, the kitchen in this Upper West Side apartment was just the space behind the folding doors. An island and full fridge have since been added.

When shelves don't offer enough storage, it's easy for the counters to become cluttered.

When shelves don't offer enough storage, it's easy for the counters to become cluttered.

In his 100-square-foot studio, Chef Grayson Altenberg is forced to cook on a hot plate as he prepares dishes like pasta and risotto.

In his 100-square-foot studio, Chef Grayson Altenberg is forced to cook on a hot plate as he prepares dishes like pasta and risotto.

This East Village apartment, which is being marketed to college students, packed a washer/dryer into the kitchen unit.

Though microapartments are not legal in the vast majority of the US, plenty of people rent them in San Francisco. The microkitchen below includes a small fridge hidden underneath the right-side cabinet.

Though microapartments are not legal in the vast majority of the US, plenty of people rent them in San Francisco. The microkitchen below includes a small fridge hidden underneath the right-side cabinet.

San Francisco has gotten so crowded, even its studio penthouses come without full kitchens.

San Francisco has gotten so crowded, even its studio penthouses come without full kitchens.

Many residents are making the minimalist designs work. This Bay Area professional organizer did wonders with her tiny kitchen.

She even installed a pull-out utensil rack next to her oven.

Two years ago, this 232-square-foot micro apartment in San Francisco sold for nearly $425,000.

Two years ago, this 232-square-foot micro apartment in San Francisco sold for nearly $425,000.

San Francisco has also floated the idea of building "micropads" for the homeless, complete with a full kitchen, including a food prep area, fridge, stovetop, and microwave oven.

San Francisco has also floated the idea of building "micropads" for the homeless, complete with a full kitchen, including a food prep area, fridge, stovetop, and microwave oven.

Read more: These 160-square-foot micro-apartments could help end San Francisco's homelessness crisis

A startup called HomeShare is now leasing converted living rooms in luxury units, where the tiny kitchens feel surprisingly spacious.

A startup called HomeShare is now leasing converted living rooms in luxury units, where the tiny kitchens feel surprisingly spacious.

For those with the luxury of choosing their housing situation, tiny living comes down to minimizing clutter and maximizing space.

Read more: A San Francisco startup charges renters almost $1,300 a month to live in converted living rooms — and it's so popular it's expanding to 5 major cities around the US

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