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KITCHENS : Too Many Cooks Can't Be Spoiled If Appliances Are Two Plentiful


"It is not that Americans are too lazy to walk to the refrigerator or stove," Jim Krengel says. "It is that we have become something of a nation of impatient people."

Make these hotfoots cool their heels in the kitchen, and the idea of doubling up on major appliances begins to make sense.

Kitchens with two wall ovens and a second sink have been fairly common for years, but now there is the two-dishwasher or two-refrigerator kitchen. In a recent survey by Maytag, about 20% of the respondents said they had put in two dishwashers or refrigerators. About 15% have two microwave ovens. The survey by the appliance manufacturer questioned 470 households with recently remodeled kitchens.

Family living arrangements are fueling the trend, says Krengel, design director of the Maytag Kitchen Center in Newton, Iowa. Use of space in the home is changing, with a large open area that functions for cooking, dining and entertaining increasingly replacing the traditional separate kitchen, dining room and living room.

In such open spaces, there is room for an auxiliary cooking area. Good news since the survey shows that in nearly 25% of households, two or more people regularly cook together and find a second cooktop and sink convenient.

Typical is a kitchen created recently by kitchen designer Nancy Mullan of New York.

"For a family in which the husband and wife cook together, we installed a cooktop and a second sink in an island," she says. "The controls for the burners are at one end of the island so they are accessible to both cooks."

Mullan often gets requests for a microwave and an under-cabinet refrigerator for snacks and ice in the entertaining area. But, she says, the dishwasher is the most frequently requested double. This second dishwasher most generally is installed near the cooking area or near where table settings are stored.

In addition to families with multiple cooks or those who entertain a lot, families with special needs double up on some appliances: the sportsman who wants a freezer for the bounty of hunting and fishing trips or the Orthodox Jewish family whose dietary laws require separating milk and meat.

"I have done kosher kitchens with two of every appliance that touches food or dishes, and some families even put in a tiny Pullman kitchen for Passover. These people are an appliance maker's dream," Mullan says.

Location is key to a second appliance's usefulness. Krengel says to save steps in cleaning up it's generally best if the second dishwasher is near the table or the cabinets where dishes and flatware are stored.

Who needs two cooktops? A family that makes good use of specialized burners, such as a wok, barbecue unit, deep fat fryer (also used as a steamer), a grill or a griddle. Two cooktops can keep both happy if one cook strongly favors electric burners and another likes to cook with gas.

A small refrigerator near the table where meals are taken can save schlepping salad dressings, butter, cold drinks and condiments. For efficiency alone, a second refrigerator should rank higher than it does.

"Most refrigerators are too crammed already. And because the refrigerator is so large, it is often located somewhat out of the way," Krengel says, noting that minifridges range from about 15 inches to 48 inches high.

While double appliances are costly, Krengel says you don't have to order top-of-the-line.

Besides, he says, in a new kitchen "by adding a second appliance, you may be eliminating a storage cabinet and lowering cabinet costs."

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