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Choosing the right electric appliances for open plan living

By October 1, 2020Home
Appliances for open plan living

Kitchens, when part of an open plan living area, need to function in a way that integrates with space rather than dominating it. From noise to clutter not to mention steam and odours from cooking, your tranquil living space can become uncomfortable pretty quickly and electric appliances like extractor fans, kettles, and dishwashers are some of the main culprits for this disruption.

There are options when choosing appliances however, that will minimise noise, smells, and even mess. I spoke to Cyril Mangan of KAL about what to consider when choosing new appliances to ensure your kitchen runs with as little disruption as possible.

Extractor fans

‘When choosing an extractor you should look for a model that will shift the air as quickly and quietly as possible,’ explains Mangan. ‘A lot of people tend to go for design over function with extractors,’ he says. ‘It’s important to calculate the airflow of the room and let this inform your choice of appliance,’ he recommends. Your kitchen supplier or designer should be able to help you with this calculation. 

Downdraught extractors, which are built into the hob, are the newest innovation for extraction. Not only do they do away with the need for anything overhead but they are also extremely effective. ‘These are fast becoming a hero product,’ says Mangan.

With conventional overhead extractors, any kind of draught from an open door or window can interrupt the flow of steam making extraction less effective. ‘With a downdraft model built into the hob the extractor is right beside the source of steam, which is why it works so well,’ he says. Prices start at E1800 from one of the leading brands Elica. 


Of all the electric appliances, the dishwasher ca be another major noise polluter in an open-plan space. This is one of the most hard-working electric appliances and in most homes runs once if not twice a day. So it’s worth choosing a model that is as quiet as possible. 

When shopping, ask about the decibel or DB rating, for the appliance. A DB rating of 42 is virtually silent. ‘You will hear a slight humming in the background when it’s running,’ says Mangan. Make sure to ask whether there is any variance in noise across the different program settings. ‘We tend to use the same 1 or 2 programs all the time so be sure to ask if the dishwasher is silent across all settings,’ he recommends.

Appliances Hot Water Tap

Hot water Tap

One of the noisiest electric appliances in any kitchen is the kettle. The average household boils the kettle at least 4 times a day and a full kettle takes about 10 minutes to boil. That’s 40mins of disruption every day. Hot water taps are the ideal solution to this. Not only are they quieter than a kettle but they are cheaper to run too. The newer versions are very compact and don’t take up much space, so no need to worry about losing storage space under the sink. You can also get combined models that work as the main sink tap while offering boiling water and filtered drinking water too.

The Omni 4-in-1 tap from Franke costs €1399 and is a combined water filter and boiling water. You can also adjust the tap to suit left or right-handed operation. 

Appliances Induction hob

Induction Hob

One of the most common questions I get asked about kitchens is what to put on the island – the sink or the hob. My answer is the hob and ideally an induction hob, as its sleek design will allow you to achieve a really clean look. ‘Induction is the next evolution of the ceramic hob,’ explains Mangan. To boil a pint of water on a normal hob takes about 6 mins whereas if you boil the same amount of water on an induction hob it takes 1 min, he explains. 

There are two main advantages of cooking with induction: speed and the ability to control the temperature. Essentially induction will give you the same benefits as gas. ‘Gas was always the favourite with TV chefs, but now all of the chefs on the modern cooking programs use induction,’ says Mangan.  

Induction hobs work by magnetic coil, making them really safe. If there is no pot on the hob, no heat is generated. They only work with stainless steel bottomed pots and pans. Whirlpool is offering a free set of pots when you purchase selected hobs with prices starting at €399. 

Appliances Waste Disposal

Waste disposal

Another issue with kitchens in open-plan settings is unwanted odours from food waste. One way to avoid this is to go for a waste disposal unit. ‘I’m the proud owner of a waste disposal unit,’ laughs Mangan. ‘I can’t imagine living without it!’. 

Waste disposal units, while common in the US and on the continent, are not so common here. But they are a great addition to any busy kitchen and easy to install. They range in price from about €240 to €700 for a top of the range model.

The essential difference being, as you go up in price you can dispose of tougher material. ‘I have a mid-range model and it does everything we need,’ says Mangan. We can dispose of wet foodstuff and more solid items like small chicken bones. ‘There is no food waste sitting in the kitchen, which eliminates bad smells from bins,’ he says.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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