Jen Haywood
About Author
March 30, 2021
 in 
How To

Our Selection Process, Part 2 Appliances

Selecting appliances for your new or remodeled kitchen can be overwhelming. Creating a design plan and conducting informed appliance research before you start shopping can ensure that you create a stylish, functional kitchen for your lifestyle while remaining on budget.

Once you’ve established your appliance budget and functional requirements, you can further narrow your choices by selecting the style and finishes that complement your kitchen design. In today’s kitchens, stainless steel is the most popular finish option — in addition to being long-lasting and durable, stainless steel’s sleek surface is also easy to clean.

Another luxury trend is integrating appliances with cabinetry using custom panels, called a “panel-ready” appliance. This involves having panels custom made by a cabinet maker according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

When selecting appliances, you’ll also want to consider how the handles, knobs, touchscreens or illumination add to the overall look you want. If you’re struggling with any of these choices, a mood board that integrates all the finishes you’re considering canto help you to visualize how they all work together.

Once you have established a budget and created a vision for your new kitchen, you’ll need to research specific appliances, considering the brands and differentiating factors in each category to choose the appliances with the features, performance, and style that best meet your needs.

Range or Cooktop

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make in designing your kitchen is whether you prefer a separate cooktop and wall oven(s) combination or a free-standing range, which integrates the cooktop surface and oven in one appliance. There are advantages and benefits to both options, based on how you use your kitchen.

Whether you opt for a range or a cooktop, you’ll need to start by choosing the fuel source. Ranges are available in gas, electric, or dual-fuel configurations. Gas ranges offer iron burner grates and front-facing controls. Dual fuel is popular because it provides even electric heat in the oven together with easily controllable, precise gas burners on the cooktop.You’ll also need to select the right size range for your kitchen layout.Standard range widths are 30, 36, and 48 inches. Larger, professional-size ranges (36 and 48 inches) often include ways to customize the cooking surface, such as additional burners or an optional built-in grill or griddle.

For cooktops, the fuel source choices are gas, electric radiant or induction, with similar choices in sizes, configurations of burners and customizable accessories as are available in ranges. Both electric radiant and induction cooktops provide a modern, seamless look, including optional flush installation, and are easier to clean than gas cooktops. Induction is the most energy-efficient choice, quickly transferring electromagnetic energy directly to pans, which brings them to temperature far faster than any other method. However, be aware that with induction cooktops, you must use cookware that contains a high content of ferrous metal because the heat is only transferred by magnetic interaction between the pan and the coils.

Wall Ovens

If you’ve opted for a wall oven, the amount of baking, broiling, or roasting you normally do may affect what features you choose. Ovens come in standard sizes of 27 and 30 inches and are available in either a single or double-oven configuration. Double ovens are ideal for cooks who entertain or have large families, if your kitchen size and layout can accommodate them. And while wall ovens don’t allow for custom panel fronts, they may be installed under the counter or flush within the cabinetry for amore integrated look.

Another oven feature to consider is convection, which uses a fan to distribute the air in the oven clockwise and counter-clockwise for even cooking with minimum hotspots in less time than a traditional oven. With convection, you can also cook multiple items at the same time, a plus for those who love to bake batches of cookies. Plus, the reduced cooking time of convection can translate into household energy savings.

Ventilation

Whether via a wall-mounted hood, island hood or down draft ventilation system, proper ventilation not only removes steam, heat and odors from your kitchen but also keeps your cabinets and appliances clean and grease-free. One of the most important features to look for in a ventilation system is the fan’s ability to move air, measured in cubic feet per minute(CFM). For the best venting, the recommended rate is 1 CFM per 100 BTUs of the heat output of your range or cooktop.

Another important consideration for ventilation is ducting.If the layout and location of your kitchen in your home permits it, ducting your ventilation system to the outside will remove the maximum amount of heat and odor. Otherwise, opt for a duct-free or recirculating ventilation hood, which relies more heavily on filtration for odor control. Always check with the manufacturer’s recommendation for hood height installation. Generally, hoods are mounted 24-36 inches above the range or cooking surface. The closer the hood is to the cooking surface, the greater the appliance efficacy.

Refrigerators

When choosing a refrigerator for your kitchen project, first select one of the three installation types:

Freestanding: Freestanding refrigerators may be viewed from a variety of angles, often have large capacity and are easy to relocate should your design change. When installed, however, they are not flush with kitchen countertops.

Built-in: Built-in units are usually taller than freestanding ones but fit flush with your countertop depth for a seamless look.

Columns or Fully Integrated: These units blend so seamlessly into your design that it can be difficult to distinguish them from the rest of the kitchen cabinetry. Column fridges are great options for large wine collections which require precise temperature control.

All three options are available in a variety of sizes and capacities to meet your family’s individual food storage needs.

Once you’ve decided on an installation type, you’ll need to consider the refrigerator’s configuration. French door models with a bottom freezer as well as popular side-by-side models require less door swing space and provide easier access to the freezer for children than a traditional top-freezer model. For extra capacity, large families may also want to consider a larger refrigerator and freezer combination or upgrading to an all-freezer next to an all-refrigerator, if the kitchen space and layout can accommodate them.

Dishwashers

In selecting a dishwasher, start with styling; choose a finish that coordinates with the rest of your new appliances. And while most dishwashers are installed flush with kitchen countertops, integrated dishwashers matched to your cabinetry using custom panels are a growing design trend.

One of the most important features to consider is how loud the dishwasher is while running. Dishwasher noise levels are rated in decibels; the lower the decibel rating, the quieter the dishwasher will be. Look for a rating of 45 decibels or less for the most quiet performers.

Dishwashers are most commonly available in a standard 24-inch width, as well as a smaller 18-inch width, ideal for very small spaces or as a second dishwasher for a wet bar. Another great option for a wet bar isa drawer dishwasher. The price tag will be higher on this style of appliance but the convenience of smaller loads for glassware and better ergonomics (less bending over) may justify it.

Microwave

Countertop: A countertop microwave is the most affordable and flexible option. It can be moved around as needed to various locations within the kitchen or hidden in a pantry.

Built-in: This type of microwave can be installed with a wall oven combination or on its own within the cabinetry or above a range.

Drawer: You will pay more for this type of microwave but it’s a great choice for easy access to your heated or defrosted food and it preserves precious countertop space. They are a good kid-friendly alternative to built-in microwaves which have more chances for accidents and spillage.

Specialty Appliances

Warming Drawer: This type of specialty appliance is a nice addition to your kitchen, ensuring all the hard work of preparing your meal doesn’t get spoiled by late dinner guests. Food will be preserved at the proper temperature both for indoor and outdoor kitchens. Another great space to install a warming drawer (but perhaps less obvious area) in your home is a bath or suite closet to keep warm towels within an arm length away. Bring the spa to you!

Vacuum Seal Drawer: Anyone who has owned a countertop version of this appliance will love the built-in vacuum seal drawer. Again, this saves your countertop space and will ensure your food lasts days and weeks longer. This appliance is a must have for those cooks who love to sous vide.

Before you shop to determine your needs, we’ll create a design plan so you can research appliance features to ensure that your new construction or remodeling project ends up as the kitchen of your dreams.

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