You have great news – your home was approved for adding an accessory dwelling unit or ADU! You have so many plans for what the interior and exterior of the ADU will look like. When you get around to furnishing it, what sorts of appliances should you put in there? (Still trying to find out whether you can build an ADU or not? Read this article.)
Since ADUs are small dwelling units, your appliances should be small, too. Here’s what we recommend:
- Washer/dryer combo
- Mini fridges and freezer
- Slim microwave
- Countertop dishwasher
- Mini toaster oven
- Single-serve coffee press
- Tabletop blender
- Space heater
- Portable air conditioner
- Handheld vacuum cleaner
That’s right, the lucky resident of your ADU doesn’t have to do without the usual appliances just because they’re living in tight quarters. They just have to downsize. In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly how.
Small Appliances Recommended For Any ADU
ADUs lack the luxury that is a dedicated laundry room. Your friend, family member, or renter who ends up living there will probably only have a laundry nook. That means making the most of what space is afforded for laundry by streamlining the appliances.
A washer/dryer combo saves on space, considering that the average width of a washing machine is 27 inches, and a dryer is just as wide. Some models of washers and dryers are even larger, up to 29 inches wide.
At any home improvement store or online retailer, you’ll find no shortage of washer and dryer combos. Most are built-in skinny wall units with a dryer on the top and a washer on the bottom. Some washer/dryer combos are all-in-one appliances that will first wash your laundry, then dry it. (You can read our article with the pros and cons of washer/dryer combos here.)
Hey, at least there will be no more lugging wet laundry from the washer to the dryer. You might like all-in-one laundry machines so much that you decide to pick one up for yourself, even if you’re not occupying the ADU.
Mini Fridge & Freezer
Your ADU resident will have to keep their food supply organized, as their ability to cold-store and freeze food is way minimized with their sparse square footage.
Refrigerators are among the bulkiest kitchen appliances, with average depth of 26 to 36 inches, a typical height of 62 to 72 inches, and a standard width of 24 to 40 inches. The ADU kitchen would look seriously lopsided with a fridge taking up more than half of the available space in there.
That’s what mini fridges are for. You can furnish the ADU with a mini-fridge that’s only for cold storage or a fridge with a built-in freezer as well.
Compact refrigeration and freezing don’t mean the mini fridge will have no room for that carton of eggs and a gallon jug of milk. Even very small mini fridges offer 3.2 cubic feet of storage, while slightly bigger ones have more than 4 cubic feet of space and sometimes closer to 7 cubic feet.
You can’t do any real cooking without a stove and oven, but in an ADU? You just don’t have the room. You’d have to choose between an oven and a stove, which would also limit your cooking abilities.
Or do you actually have to pick one or another? Combo appliances are all the rage these days, and that goes for small homes like ADUs to full-sized properties. A combination range will have a stove and an oven for cooking and baking as the needs arise.
When it comes to the appliances that are nice-to-haves rather than must-haves, you might assume you have to forego them when outfitting the ADU.
Not so! A microwave doesn’t have to hog up valuable space on a tiny counter. This Whirlpool countertop microwave measures 13.75 inches deep by 15.38 inches wide. For comparison’s sake, a standard micro is about 16 inches deep and 30 inches wide . The Whirlpool microwave is quite a bit smaller!
We know what you’re thinking. That’s great that you can buy a small micro, but surely it can’t fit large meals inside. Its power levels must also be weak.
Not in this case. The Whirlpool micro is 0.5 cubic feet and has room for 11-inch dinner plates. It also features 10 different cooking levels and 750 watts of heating power. That’s not to say that all compact microwaves will be the same, but those are great specs for such a small appliance!
A dishwasher that’s built flush into a counter is a fantastic idea for an ADU, as the dishwasher doesn’t take up extra space. Plus, it’s your best opportunity to get a full-sized dishwasher in the ADU kitchen.
But if your budget was running a bit low when you designed the ADU and got it built, then perhaps you decided to forego a dishwasher at the time.
Later, you changed your mind about the dishwasher. After all, the sink in the ADU kitchen likely isn’t big either. Having a dishwasher frees up the sink a lot.
A countertop dishwasher is the next best thing to one built flush into the wall. Granted, since it’s a dishwasher we’re talking about, it might require more counter space than the other appliances we’ve discussed.
Since those appliances will be so small, though, you can sacrifice a bit more room for a dishwasher in the ADU kitchen. Whoever lives here will appreciate the addition, that’s for certain.
Mini Toaster Oven
A toaster item seems like another of those skippable kitchen appliances. But how else are you supposed to toast bread, English muffins, or small frozen pizzas? It’s inefficient to use an oven for these sorts of things, and a microwave just won’t cut it. The toaster is a true specialist.
The DASH mini toaster is less than 10 inches in length, width, and depth. Plus, it’s available in an array of sunny colors to brighten any ADU kitchen.
Running on 550 watts, the compact toaster includes a crumb tray for reducing messes, an oven rack, and a baking tray.
Single-Serve Coffee Press
Foregoing coffee is not an option, but every coffee machine you’ve looked at for your ADU takes up too much space. The Palmpress coffee press proves that getting a caffeine fix doesn’t have to take up the whole counter.
The Palmpress is a teeny-tiny coffee press that measures 2.25 inches tall by 4.25 inches deep. It’s collapsible, so it stands 5 inches tall when it’s open and then compresses nearly flat.
The coffee machine weighs a mere 9.1 ounces and can produce 8.7 ounces of coffee each time you use it.
Sure, that’s just a little more than one cup of coffee, but how many people are living in the ADU? It’s also cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) to use a coffeemaker at home than it is to buy your coffee at a local café every morning.
For many, an ADU is a permanent living space, not only a place they stay for a weekend. If you intend to have long-term residents in your ADU, then it needs kitchen appliances they’d expect in a full-sized kitchen.
A blender is one such appliance that comes to mind. At this point, you’re probably wondering, Who has room for a blender in a kitchen that might only be 200 square feet (if that)? You do, if yours is the PopBabies portable blender.
The PopBabies blender runs on USB batteries to make smoothies, shakes, and other healthy eats. The appliance measures 3.2 inches by 3.2 inches by 10.2 inches so it takes up barely more room than a large reusable water bottle.
The jar for blending, slicing, and dicing holds 14 ounces. The blender itself runs on 7.2 volts. It’s certainly sufficient for tight kitchens.
Your ADU will likely have HVAC, but if it’s not central heating and cooling, then you might end up with some cold spots throughout the home. A portable space heater can warm up a room quickly since there’s not that much square footage to heat.
Space heaters are available at all price points and sizes, so whether a desktop space heater provides enough warmth or a taller unit on wheels is the better option, you can create heat in a way that doesn’t demand too much room.
Portable Air Conditioner
Although it would be great if portable air conditioners were sized about the same as space heaters (not to mention priced similarly), that’s not the case. These units will be bigger, measuring maybe 14 inches by 25 inches or larger, depending on the model.
Some portable air conditioners have wheels for easy transport while others feature rubber feet that increase stability. Since ACs produce condensate (water), you’ll need the air conditioner close to a window so you can install tubing that feeds the condensate outside.
Small as they may be, many portable air conditioners are quite mighty. Some models can deliver up to 8,000 British thermal units or BTUs of cooling power. (For reference, central air conditioners produce at least 20,000 BTUs, so while there’s a decrease, no one in the ADU should be sweating with a portable AC in the house.)
If a portable unit is just not feasible due to space constraints, then you can always install a window unit or two in the ADU (provided that’s allowed by your local homeowner’s association or city/town government). Window units will release up to 10,000 BTUs of cooling power. Plus, they clear the floor space!
Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
When the ADU gets dirty, which it inevitably will, how will cleanup happen? A small handheld vacuum cleaner is a great tool that can suck up messes like dirt, dust, pet hair, and everything in between.
The Dyson Humdinger handheld vacuum is a great example of big cleaning power in a small package. The vacuum cleaner is 11.33 inches long by 3.34 inches wide and 8.7 inches tall, yet its cleaning path width is up to 50 inches.
The Humdinger includes a 0.05-gallon bin and a max runtime of 20 minutes. It requires a battery recharge at that point, which takes 3.5 minutes of charging time per battery.
When building an ADU, furnishing it is one of the most fun parts. Outfitting a small space with everyday appliances can be challenging, but by downsizing, you can create a comfortable living area with all the necessities required for day-to-day life.