Choose for function and style
A kitchen remodel can't happen without taking a look at your appliances. Although it can add a lot to your budget, updating your kitchen appliances can leave you more satisfied than even the greatest kitchen design.
Picking out your major appliances is a balancing act – function is of course foremost in your mind, but you also want something that adds style and visual appeal to your room. From an aesthetic point of view, stainless steel appliances are a popular choice and are a great look for contemporary kitchens. However, they often carry a heftier price tag than other designs, even though they offer the same features. If you're looking to get the most out of your money, a simple white or black refrigerator in the same model will cost you much less.
When it comes to choosing appliances for their function, you'll have different requirements for each particular piece. If budget allows, most people spring for new flat-top stoves because they are easier to keep clean. Many even go the extra mile for a model with a bridge-top or full-top cooking element, to give them ample room for stovetop cooking. Ovens warrant equal consideration. Single ovens are still the standard, but people who cook a lot or who like to cook complex dishes, double or even triple ovens could be worth the investment.
If there's one appliance that requires the most thought before purchasing, it's the refrigerator. Aside from choosing your model preference (top freezer, bottom freezer and side-by-side models all have pros and cons), you'll want to consider any extra features that will suit your lifestyle. Adjustable shelving and built-in icemakers can make life easier, while high-end options like fridges with climate control zones are more practical than you might think if you're a food connoisseur. Just weigh your budget – a fully-loaded refrigerator can run you over $5,000!
Other Common Kitchen Appliances:
Most people find themselves choosing refrigerators and freezers together, since nearly every kitchen features a combo model. Traditionally, a top freezer has always been standard in fridge freezer combos, but new trends in bottom freezer and side-by-side models give people more choice, depending on their needs. Keeping the freezer more accessible in the bottom is great for people who tend to lose food in their freezers, while side-by-side models are great for people who keep lots of frozen food on hand.
If you're looking for lots of space in a freezer, you're best off with a chest freezer. Chest freezers come in all sizes and styles, from enormous 30-cubic-foot cube freezers to 3-cubic-foot upright freezers. The choice will depend entirely on the space in your home and your convenience – chest freezers will eat up a lot of space, but generally hold a lot more than upright freezer models.
These days, a microwave is almost a requirement in a kitchen, and fortunately, choices in microwaves (or microwave ovens, as they are sometimes known) have come a long way over the past two decades.
From a style standpoint, microwaves are available in white, black and stainless steel to match with other appliances in your kitchen, and they're also available in a number of sizes. If you're looking for a compact microwave, countertop microwaves are available in sizes less than 1 cubic foot. Larger over the range microwave models come as big as 2 cubic feet.
In terms of microwave technology, think about your cooking habits before you buy. If you don't use the microwave a lot, a basic model will be all you need. However, if you're a whiz at preparing meals in the microwave, you'll want a model with all the defrosting and cooking bells and whistles. You may even be interested in a microwave convection oven, which allows you to cook your food quickly, but with the browning and crispness results of a convection oven.
Toaster ovens are a welcome addition to any kitchen if you just want to cook up a small meal or snack, or if you want to save on energy. They also beat heating up the entire oven on a hot summer day. From a style standpoint, under counter toaster ovens tuck neatly out of sight, but a neutral black, white or stainless steel toaster oven with a sleek design will take nothing away from your kitchen style. Just be sure to clean it regularly to avoid food buildup.
When it comes to function, toaster oven combos are plentiful and can really save on counter space. If you prefer to cook upscale, a rotisserie toaster oven, toaster oven broiler or convection toaster oven can give you similar results in taste and texture as your normal cooking oven. However, if you're just reheating last night's leftovers, a microwave toaster oven combination gives you two options for dinner in a hurry.
Small Kitchen Appliances
There are numerous little gadgets that will help reduce the time spent in your kitchen. From blenders to food processors to crock pots to mixers, you'll be able to have fantastic dinners ready in a snap. But when it comes to picking out your small kitchen appliances, there's one lesson you'll want to keep in mind – be wary of a small price tag.
Small appliances are notorious for their cheap quality, particularly when they come at a discount price. They're almost thought of as disposable, and we've come to expect and accept breakdowns. But the truth is a good small appliance could (and should) last you for years and years if you invest a little more early on. Blades will stay sharper longer, attachments will stay intact and you'll find the overall quality of performance is much higher from day one.
We all want to save money, but the most important lesson in shopping for kitchen appliances – especially discount appliances – is to look closely before you run away with a "great deal." You may think you're saving money now, but chances are you'll be heading back to the appliance store well before you should be.