Big Kitchens on the Chopping Block

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Just when you thought it was safe to remodel the kitchen with acres of granite countertop, a convection oven and a prep sink, here come a bunch of designers suggesting it's time to think compact and functional, as in, a smaller kitchen.

I know we're all living in reduced circumstances (unless you work for Goldman Sachs or AIG) but I still dream of poaching salmon while listening to the purr of my oversized industrial strength range hood. Alas, as the economy shrinks along with the square footage of our homes and our decorating budget, let's at least savor the smart downsized design solutions as we stuff all our kitchen junk into a box.
They're not exactly kitchenettes. the Module Collection from Boxetti (sounds Italian, but it's probably the first Latvian design outfit on the block) includes a sink, fridge, cutting board and shelves and drawers all in a tidy kitchen island package (called Lunch) that resembles a sleek white shipping container when shuttered.

Speaking of Italian, Dada's Tivali line can rest against a wall or double as a room divider in your overpriced studio. Open the "vanishing" double doors to reveal a fully equipped kitchen with stainless steel worktop, a larder and a bar for hanging utensils. When you're done cooking the ragu, just close the doors and there's no kitchen in sight.

We also admired Jcorradi's aptly named Cook Kitchen. Here you get a stove, sink and storage compartments encased in a shiny steel shell with etched glass doors.

And finally we offer the pod, the coolest compact kitchen that ever dropped out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gatto Cucine's Sheer is a futuristic carbon fiber sphere featuring a retractable (by remote control) dome that hides a four-burner stove, three-bottle cooler, removable lava stone and double sink -- as well as a retractable table -- under the hood. Amaze your friends as the dome lifts off while you recline on the day bed -- if, of course, you can afford the $80,000 base price (they do throw in a visit by professionals from the home office in Italy to help configure the installation).

Think of your kitchen makeover as something for yourself, however, not as a potential investment when you sell. According to Remodeling magazine, the average upscale kitchen renovation cost $111,794 in 2009 but only yielded 63 percent of that (or $70,641) in resale value.

I guess kitchens are a very personal thing, whether big or small in the shape of a mango.
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