Have you ever redesigned your kitchen? It can be a stressful process! As an appliance salesman I see, time and time again, customers making snap decisions when choosing their appliances because of the stress, and then live to regret their choice. There are steps to make sure that you are getting the appliances that are right for you and your lifestyle and can save some money and heartache along the way.
Start the appliance purchasing adventure with picking out a color that will match well with your cabinets and countertops. Stainless steel is all the rage right now but it can smudge and show fingerprints rather easily so those of you who have little ones around the house with sticky fingers might want to consider black or white.
There are some “stainless look” choices out there which cut down on fingerprints but this feature is not available with all models so the choices will be limited. Furthermore, stainless steel will add anywhere from $50 to $150 to the price tag per appliance. Bisque (or almond or biscuit depending on what manufacturer) will limit your choice of appliances even more than “stainless look” so if you are dead set on that color then be prepared to sacrifice features and size.
The refrigerator is your largest appliance and biggest expense. Being the largest appliance in the kitchen it is the one that will draw the most attention so this is a good place to start. There are three basic styles of refrigerators: Top mount (this is the most common style, with the freezer on top), side-by-side, and French door. I have owned all three styles in my life and French door has definitely been the most practical when it comes to layout and space.
Measure, measure, measure! You would be surprised at the number of times I get a phone call from our delivery team telling me that they are bringing a refrigerator back to the store because the refrigerator that was delivered was too big for the space. I ask every customer if they have any size restrictions for their refrigerator.
If they say that they are not sure I urge them to go home and measure first. Measure the top, middle, and bottom of the opening. I say this because with older homes and mass produced homes, such as homes in a housing development, the measurements might vary from a half inch to an inch and a half from the top to the bottom of the opening. I also ask them to check if the baseboard wraps around into the opening because if it is going to be a tight fit, that baseboard might need to be removed.
As with all appliances there are feature that will add to the price tag that most people can do without. Blue LED lighting is one of them. This feature has been popular on newer models but beware! The blue light will distort the color of fresh fruit and vegetables, causing them to look past their prime when they are not.
Not only will this feature add to the price but you might also be making more unneeded trips to the grocery! Spill-proof shelves are another “premium” feature that are not be worth the money. Some manufacturers boast that their spill-proof shelf can hold up to 32 ounces of liquid, but (and this is a big but for this feature) that is only if you gently pour 32 ounces of liquid on an empty shelf.
The more items on the shelf the less liquid it will hold and I don’t know about you but I’ve never gently poured anything on an empty shelf in my fridge on purpose. Most spills will happen quickly while you are pulling something out of the fridge and spill all over anyway, spill-proof shelf or not!
Now that you’ve picked out the color and fridge be sure to stick with the same brand. This is especially true for stainless steel. This is because the grain and tint of the stainless steel and tint and sheen of colors are going to vary between the brands.
The stainless steel or color of a Frigidaire appliance is going to look different from the stainless steel or color of a Whirlpool appliance. That being said, once a brand has been selected it is a good idea to stay within the same series of that particular brand. This will ensure that your handle style is the same on all of the appliances.
Ranges are gas or electric and almost always will be 30 inches wide. If you are fortunate enough to have your choice between gas and electric without having to call a plumber to run a gas line then I would suggest gas. Gas ranges allow for finer control of the heat on the cook top and can still be used during a power outage. Electric ranges have two options: ceramic/glass flat top or the old coil style cook top.
The coil style cook top can save money in two ways: they are typically less expensive to purchase and if one of the burners goes out it can be replaced easily for less than $50. If you have your heart set on a flat top range check your pots and pans for any warping. If they are then it would be a good idea to invest in a new set because once they start to heat up they will vibrate on the flat surface of the cook top! Also, don’t pay extra for a convection range if you do not plan on using the convection feature.
A convection range has a fan inside the oven to circulate the heat. This allows for faster and more even cooking but the temperature and baking time will need to be adjusted from what the recipe calls for. Convection cooking can take some getting used to so be prepared for some disappointing results if you’ve never used this feature before.
Dishwashers can vary greatly in price but typically you can get a great dishwasher at the mid-level price range. Sound decibel rating (or dB) is something to look out for. An average conversation between two people is about 60dB. Every three dBs you go down will be twice as quiet; for example, 57dB is twice as quite as 60dB and 54dB is twice as quite as 57dB and so on.
Anything less than about 51dB is virtually silent. Anything under 50dB is overkill and not worth the extra expense. A stainless steel tub will help insulate the sound and assist in the drying process. Some dishwashers have a food disposer attached to the drainage system but f you rinse your dishes before putting them in then there is absolutely no need to pay extra for this.
4. All Things Being Equal
Once you have decided on a brand and series (which usually indicates the price tier) keep in mind that most appliance brands are pretty equal as far as quality within that same price tier. It all comes down to personal preference and experience with a particular brand. I have customers that come in and say, “I hate brand X!
Everything I have ever owned by them is a piece of junk!” and then 10 minutes later another customer will say, “I absolutely love brand X! Everything I have ever owned by them has lasted beyond my expectations! I will only buy that brand of appliance!” Most of the major appliance brands have the same features with very slight variations. For example, most brands have a type of steam clean feature for their ranges only brand X calls it “Mist-Off” and brand Y calls it “Aqua Clean.”
Searching for appliances can and should be a fun part of your kitchen remodel. Keeping these tips in mind will speed up the process and get you into your new kitchen faster and with less hassle than the average shopper!