Quality is most important, and the most obvious of concerns.  Beyond the function of the appliance, of course, and where this blog is going to go (probably also pretty obvious.. right?) is the form. 

And, for just a handful of items, there is quite a lot of variety. 


photo:  Heather Bullard

In a refrigerator we look for efficiency.  Efficiency of energy as well as cooling and food preservation.  Most major brands do a bang up job of both.  You can check Consumer Reports for realiability and performance factors, but beyond that, it needs to look good, too.

So, I've learned a lot about refrigerators this past month.  I was without one for 3 of the 4 weeks of last month, and it was an experience I would rather not repeat.  I now have a new shiny stainless replacement humming happily away in my kitchen. 
Refrigerators are generally available in black, white or stainless steel.  Stainless steel is the most popular today and is easy care, sturdy and beautiful.  The french door version (pictured) is a favorite for people who entertain often.  Its wide open interior holds platters of food exceptionally well.
Stainless models of the major brandnames are generally around $200 more than the black/white versions and range in price from below $1000, depending on features and size. French door styles are closer to $2000 and counter-depth models start at around $2,000.

In higher end versions, such as SubZero, technology meets versatility.  
The latest Sub Zero refrigerator features a "NASA designed filtration system that replenishes the air every 20 minutes while eliminating bacteria, odors, and microscopic contaminants."   You can expect to pay around $7,000 for the model shown below. 

They are true designer friendly appliances, being available in a wide range of widths and styles
This model features a see through door.
Counter depth for a custom or built-in look
narrow, with freezer on bottom
side by side with freezer and crisper drawers
see through doors that allow you to see what is available without opening the door
for the obsessively neat - which does not include our household

If you dislike the look of bulky appliances, you can make them disappear...
Many major brands, as well as designer brands, have counter depth models made to hold panels to match your kitchen cabinetry.

they blend into the surrounding cabinetry
looking more like furniture than sturdy kitchen workhorses
Imagine having to remember where you put your fridge.....

New to appliances are modules you can place anywhere.
These refrigerator or freezer drawers are stacked beneath a basic fridge module, but can just a easily be placed elsewhere, such as

hidden freezer drawers next to your hidden refrigerator
(now you have to remember which drawer the freezer is in, as well)
or under your wall oven . . .

or stacked refrigerator drawers in your island . . .

a mini drawer for beverages or snacks at a level the little ones can handle

I love the dividers in this crisper drawer

white blue kitchen traditional kitchen
This kitchen, by kitchen designer Serra, is a beautiful example of the 'no appliance' look. 
So - as far as refrigerators go - do you prefer to see them or hide them?  It's completely up to you!

Cooking appliances come in basic electric or gas models.  Also available and preferred by many is a dual range with an electric oven and a gas cook top.  The thinking here is that electric ovens give a more even heat for baking.   Most models come in your basic black, white and the ever popular stainless steel - but there is a new trend to color ranges
Once you have decided on gas or electric, you must also choose to have a stand alone range (built in backsplash), slide-in range for built-in look, or a cooktop.  

 A cooktop allows deep drawer storage or cupboards beneath.  When a cooktop is chosen it is usually accompanied by a wall oven or dual ovens. 
White appliances blend seamlessly with the cabinets in this bright white kitchen.  The oven is placed in the island, and the cooktop on an adjacent countertop. 

Double full size ovens maximize your cooking/baking needs.  Great for when the turkey is in the oven and the pies need baking...

Wolf ovens, microwave/convection on top and oven on bottom

Stainless wall ovens - convection on top and regular oven below
The wall ovens can be a combination of oven, convection or microwave versions. 

This trio also boasts a warming drawer on the bottom. 
Wolf cooktop
A cooktop allows storage space for pots below

Other cooktop choices include induction cooktops - sleek and modern

In the designer or high end products, Wolf and Viking lead the pack.  Their quality is equaled by their price .  Expect to pay $7500 for this version.

They have also joined the new trend to color appliances
But the true gem of gems is the La Cornue range, a french darling in a range of colors, styles and components that are made to order - at a mere $36,000 for this version.

Ventilation is critical over the stove or cooktop and there are ways to either hide an exhaust fan or make it a design element.  There are also ways that make them invisible.  These applications range from the ultra modern to traditional cooking alcoves with a hidden ventilation system.
In plain sight and proud of it, this stainless hood makes a bold statement
The ventilation hood is well hidden in molding and millwork over this slide-in range for an old world and very traditional feel

This white and stainless Viking range's hood is installed in an alcove over the range.  Shelves in the alcove hold spices and frequently used items
A bold statement in a traditional kitchen, this hood extends from the ceiling over this cooking peninsula

A sleek and sophisticated look.  I could definitely hang out in this kitchen. 
Are there actually four ovens on that wall? 
A 'country' version of the stainless hood makes a design statement in this alcove over the stove

so french!  reminiscent of the stone fireplaces in Provence,  this hood in alcove has old world appeal

When an overhead hood isn't practical, or if you don't like that look, pop up downdrafts are efficient and disappear when not in use.
This exhaust becomes a sleek stainless bar at the top of the cooktop when it isn't needed
this ceiling exhaust is nearly invisible - great for a clean modern look

I'm not a true fan of the over the stove model microwave/exhaust vent.  I never feel comfortable cooking on the stove top and in the microwave at the same time especially if there is more than one cook in the kitchen - and I'm not crazy about the 'look' - but even in a small space there are alternatives.
There are sleek new models that can be attractive over the stove when space is an issue, but they can also be tucked into an island or a cabinet.  A microwave drawer is another option and one I think would be much easier to use.

this streamlined LG model's door opens up and is better suited for a higher installation
others can be conveniently located under a cooktop or in an island
but I have to say that my favorite is the microwave drawer
Now I just need to find out if they work well.


a great appliance to have around if you have teenagers who are never home in time for dinner, or for serving when entertaining. 
Warming drawers are a great asset for your kitchen if you have the room
This Wolf version has individual compartments with lids for ease in serving and keeping food warm without drying out.


Beyond the obvious desire for an efficient dish cleaner, your dishwasher should blend in to your kitchen design and be whisper quiet.  Currently the Bosc model has the crown for the quietest operation in the wash cycle.  The Miele runs a close second, but great strides have also been made by more common brands such as LG and GE, sometimes separated by a couple of decibels - we may have to check to see if they are actually running.   Hmmm, does anyone know how to break a dishwasher? 
I like the clean lines and 'no buttons' look of this stainless version.  Streamlined versions like these are a little more expensive

Integrated dishwashers match the cabinets and blend into their surroundings
the integrated models are also available in modular drawer dishwashers, which look like deep drawers in the kitchen cabinets
and are also available in stainless
Upper and lower drawer dishwashers are convenient in two's - one can be washing while the other is being loaded after a dinner party.
Mounting them near the top of the counter reduces your need to bend over while loading and unloading.  Flanking the sink makes them convenient

That wraps up our appliance post ... so many things to think about!
I am very anxious to hear from you on your preferences and experiences

There are other appliances - trash compactors, beverage/wine coolers, coffee making centers, ice makers, etc., I won't go into them because this post is already realllllly long.

Just remember, when you are planning your kitchen make a list of the pros and cons of your current kitchen. If you hate having to bend down to load the dishwasher, consider a modular unit you can mount just under the countertop. Think of those frustrations you have now and brainstorm to eliminate them. Decide what is important to you and what you can live without. Would you give up the hardwood floor for that SubZero refrigerator?

Let us know if you have used any of these appliances and how you like or dislike them.
You are my greatest resource!

Best wishes,


Next Post - Sinks and faucets

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