One of the most exciting aspects of a kitchen remodel is choosing your fridge, stove, and other appliances. After all, this is where tech and style combine into sleek, sexy packages that can make even takeout veterans drool!
That’s why, in this latest installment of our Dream Kitchen Remodeling Guide, we take you through choosing the appliances your new kitchen needs, and the questions that’ll help you figure out what’s right for you.
How much do kitchen appliances cost?
Before you get your heart set on that dishwasher that cleans 16 place settings at once, confirm how much cash you have in play.
“A full kitchen package can run anywhere from $2,000 to upward of $50,000, so the style and brand of appliance depends on your budget,” says Ben Pugliares, manager of major appliances for Wayfair. “Generally, you should expect to allocate between 15% and 25% of your total kitchen renovation budget on appliances.”
Are built-in kitchen appliances best?
If you want your appliances to fit seamlessly behind kitchen cabinets or walls, you’ll want to consider built-ins. In addition to a sleeker look, built-ins also often sport more finely honed systems, such as digital controls, multiple lighting systems, and better drawer and shelf components.
The downside of built-ins is the higher cost—and because they’re custom-built to fit a certain space, odds are you’ll need to leave these pricey appliances behind whenever you decide to move, says Carib Daniel Martin, a residential architect near Washington, DC.
Traditional free-standing appliances are the more affordable choice, and installation is a cinch—just slide them into their space, plug them in, and you’re good to go. But if you like the idea of built-ins but can’t afford them, consider a compromise: Buy free-standing large appliances and get smaller countertop appliances (e.g., coffee maker and microwave) built in instead.
Stainless-steel appliances: Pros and cons
Stainless-steel appliances are all the rage these days, not only due to their modern look, but also because the material is strong and durable, resisting scratches, water damage, and rust for years. They also increase your home’s resale value. The downside is the cost.
“The cost of stainless steel as a raw material is more than the steel plate used in white and black fridges,” Martin explains. Count on spending about twice as much for stainless steel.
Black stainless steel has been a growing trend for the past few years, but now, “white appliances are making a big comeback, but not your parents’ dull, textured white appliances—bright, painted steel appliances with stainless accents,” says Pugliares.
You could also order appliances in matte black or white, then customize your handles and knobs in brushed bronze, copper, or black stainless steel. But before you shell out the bucks, ask yourself: Are you going to appreciate a high-end appliance or not pay it much attention?
Once you’re clear on that, you’re ready to start shopping.
The first appliance you choose should be the fridge.
“We can all guarantee that those doors are opened way more than any type of oven,” says Ana Cummings, designer and founder of Ana Interiors.
Figure out the size of fridge you need. You’ll need to know the height, depth, and width of the allotted physical space in your kitchen to ensure a unit will fit. You’ll also need to do some math to ensure the model you choose can handle the perishables you store inside it. In a perfect world, a family of four needs a fridge of at least 20 cubic feet.
Aside from size, consider the style and layout. For example, side-by-side doors require less swing space to open, but you can’t wedge wide loads like a pizza in the fridge easily. Here’s more to help you decide which type of refrigerator is right for you.
Trend alert: “We’re seeing black interiors instead of the typical white,” Cummings says. “Black allows the products inside the fridge to pop out at you, so no more opening the fridge door and not finding what you were looking for.”
Try: To splurge, our experts recommend KitchenAid’s sleek side-by-side refrigerator in stainless steel (Houzz, $8,799). For those with a smaller budget, the Kenmore Elite 79043 bottom-freezer refrigerator is a glossy stainless-steel cube that offers 24.1 cubic feet of storage (Amazon, $1,099.99).
Gas, induction, electric? Figuring out the type of range you need will help you narrow down your options. For instance, an electric range is best for small budgets, gas is great for foodies who crave temperature control, and induction offers the fastest, most energy-efficient option on the market. Here’s more on the pros and cons of gas, electric, and induction stoves and more to help you pick.
Furthermore, “ranges are starting to come in a rainbow of colors because they’re often the focal point of the kitchen,” says Cummings. Smart technology’s also on the menu. For instance, Cummings adds, “some ovens come with apps for your phone so you can start the preheat on your drive home. They can also be preprogrammed to bake your favorite recipes and meals just the way you like them.”
Try: Heartland’s 480-inch, free-standing gas range with griddle (Wayfair, $6,999.99) combines nostalgic beauty with a state-of-the-art system, say experts. Meanwhile, the Kenmore Elite 95052 smooth-top electric range wins high marks from Consumer Reports for its performance, but won’t overheat your credit card (Amazon, $999.99).
Until someone else comes up with a better strategy for reheating leftovers, microwaves aren’t going anywhere. But at least now, you have control over where you want yours to live—on the counter? Over your range? Tucked inside a cabinet?
Plus, a combo convection oven/microwave allows you to brown and crisp—two cooking methods that traditional microwaves tend to botch spectacularly.
Try: Experts recommend the Sharp Insight Pro Series 24-inch, built-in microwave drawer (Overstock, $838.49), which frees up more of your counter space. General Electric’s 30-inch, 1.6-cubic foot, over-the-range microwave (Wayfair, $253.68) also stays up and out of your way.
“A dishwasher will be located as close to your sink as possible to streamline plumbing, so this decision will have the least impact on your design decisions,” says Pugliares.
In other words, make it the last appliance you choose.
When comparing models, consider the noise each model makes, the ease of loading dishes and, of course, how well it cleans.
“It’s also worthy to note if there’s an emergency shut-off, in case it senses a flood or malfunction,” says Cummings. “I’ve known too many people whose floors have been ruined due to a leaky appliance.”
Try: Experts like GE Profile’s 24-inch, built-In dishwasher with hidden controls (Wayfair, $1,169.10). Consumer Reports gives high marks to the quiet Whirlpool WDF520PADM dishwasher (Whirlpool, $579).
More advice on kitchen appliances
If you’re really into the latest kitchen tech, you might want to install some other favorites, too: Steamers are all the rage, as are built-in coffee and beverage centers and refrigerators that serve a specific purpose, like keeping your wine chilled.
Another tip? Not everything has to match. Many dishwashers, range hoods, and over-the-range microwaves today come without the brand plastered on the front. That said, if you buy all your appliances from one brand and series, you’re likely to get matching handles for a more consistent look—and maybe even a discount for buying them as a package deal.
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