Refrigerators come as side-by-side, top-and-bottom, and built-in units. The standard configuration of a refrigerator is to have the freezer on top with the refrigerator on bottom. We are beginning to see a lot more refrigerators that are a lot more than standard. For those who cook with mostly fresh ingredients we are seeing a top mounted refrigerator with the freezer beneath. For those who prefer to have everything at eye level we are seeing side by side refrigerators; as a word of caution, large food may not fit easily. We are even beginning to see built in units that blend perfectly with the cabinet design of your kitchen.
Choosing a style may be largely a matter of personal preference, but the size of the refrigerator should take into account the size of the family. A family of four may only require a 21 to 25 square foot unit, while one of six or more might want a 27 to 32 square foot unit. Storage may be measured in cubic feet, but the width of the unit determines placement options. Let the needs of the family determine the size of the fridge, but be sure not to skimp — there’s nothing worse than having a packed fridge that doesn’t function to fit the family.
When considering additional features, like ice makers or water dispensers, think about placement. A paneled refrigerator, for example, won’t go well with an external water dispenser, as spills can damage the paneling over time.
Both height and width need to be taken into account when looking at refrigerator size. Refrigerators can be as tall as 68 inches or more and as wide as 36 inches. A homeowner will want sufficient clearance from hallways, doorways and so on. A refrigerator that is going to be placed next to a wall will require a suitable door design. A standard rule of thumb is to allow at least 2 inches minimum on each side to allow a door to swing open, depending on the model.
Dishwashers have undergone changes over the years, replacing loud, clunky, eyesores with incognito models that are so quiet it is difficult to tell if they are on. Look for models that feature concealed control panels built into the top of the door and stylized paneling that keep this appliance from standing out. Quieter motors and stainless-steel interiors help deaden dishwasher noise — a crucial feature for open-plan homes or kitchens with adjacent entertaining spaces.
Don’t overlook the possibility of buying two or more dishwashers — a growing trend in kitchens and kitchen remodels. For larger families or homes that like to entertain, one dishwasher can be cleaning while the other is being filled with new dirty dishes.
Companies like KitchenAid and Fisher have also come up with dishwasher drawers, essentially two independent dishwashing drawers that are stacked on top of one another to accommodate single or double-drawer loads. This is an excellent option for homeowners in space-challenged kitchens; they can use the dishwasher drawers as storage. If there’s a shortage of storage space, one drawer can hold dishes while the other washes them.
Homeowners interested in cutting-edge technology should be on the lookout for energy-efficiency, shorter cycles, and advanced features designed to cut time and fuss over dishes. GE’s “SmartDispense technology,” which holds 45 ounces of detergent for automatic release with each load, and Jenn-Air’s 3-tiered dishwasher, with adjustable racks and a washing arm under each rack, are setting new marks in dishwasher design.
Technology is the focus in home design trends — especially when it comes to dishwashers. Models may be certified by the National Sanitation Foundation, ensuring that they reach at least 150 degrees to thoroughly zap germs. Others offer automatic leak detection systems.
Most American-made under-the-counter dishwasher models are a standard 24 inches in width, so selecting a new unit to replace an old one may not require space reconfiguration. If purchasing a European model, check the measurements since they are often narrower than their American counterparts.
Cooktops — formerly known as stoves — are now fully independent from ovens, which brings more features and flexibility to both. Commercial cooktops are becoming more popular in residential kitchens because they truly cater to the gourmet chef. High-end gas cooktops feature low-level BTU output settings for cooking light sauces or melting chocolates, which provides maximum control for precise cooking. Look for burners with an inner and an outer flame for high-precision and consistent heating.
New residential units are chasing their commercial predecessors in terms of price and features, so do your homework. Electric residential cooktops may be less expensive, but will not have the same precision as gas models. Cooktops range in size from 30 to 38 inches wide, but may be as wide as 48 inches if a griddle
An island cooktop allows the entertaining chef to face the guests and bring the cooking to the party. Downdraft ventilation systems can eliminate the need for overhead hoods, and emerging technologies like induction cooking can create a safer cooking environment. With induction cooking, a magnetic-based pot or pan interacts with a magnetic field created by the cooking hob coils, inducing a current in the pot or pan. The pot or pan actually heats up and cooks the food while the surface stays cool.
The system itself is entirely flame-free.
Ovens come in two types — convection and conventional. Convection ovens are more expensive, as they feature blowers that circulate the heat for faster, even cooking. As with dishwashers, two ovens is becoming the norm in today’s kitchen. The double oven is really critical. Every kitchen should have two ovens. Whether wall-mounted or fixed below the cooktop, two ovens allows for greater cooking capacity and flexibility.
Warming drawers, once a pretty prominent fixture in kitchens, are seeing a resurgence in kitchen design. Warming drawers can be set from 0 to 175º Fahrenheit to maintain the texture and temperature of cooked foods without drying them out. Warming drawers cost anywhere from $800 to $1000, but are useful additions to kitchens that see a lot of use and provide large or complex meals for guests or families.
Innovative appliances like convection microwaves offer new cooking options for the pressed-for-time homeowner. With roasting, baking, and crisping capabilities, convection microwaves combine all the reheat features of a microwave with the cooking options
of a convection oven. Cooking time is
cut in half, but the desired flavor and texture of the food remains.
Choosing appliances in a stainless steel finish will also give your kitchen a chic and polished look, keeping things consistent with your new, high-tech image. In fact about 10 percent of all appliances are now stainless steel, up
3 percent from five years ago, and most designers agree that the stainless trend
is here to stay.
Keep your cutting-edge design coordinated at the sink, by installing a faucet that also makes a bold design statement in a stainless finish. There are collections available in stainless finishes that elegantly coordinates with stainless steel kitchen appliances, sinks and hardware. There are features with excellent utility: offering pullout, pulldown and bar/prep faucets. These bold, simple faucets are a perfect fit for your new, chic space and the high-arc spouts and crisp lines provide the best of both functionality and fashionable design.
Looking for ways to save money? A good place to start is your kitchen appliances. Replacing older, inefficient appliances with more modern appliances is a leading way for consumers to reap tremendous energy savings.
That’s great advice considering the fact that the amount of energy consumed by home appliances has dropped sharply since 2000. Refrigerators and dishwashers are a good place to start when looking to cut energy costs.
Replacing a refrigerator purchased before 2000 could save you $40-50. Replacing a dishwasher purchased in the 1990s could save you about $40 a year. These savings are only based upon advancements in technology. The savings could be even more if there are problems with your current appliances; such as air leaks in your refrigerator or thermostat problems with your dishwasher.
Go ahead and create the dream kitchen you’ve always wanted. By looking to the future with technological enhancements and timeless designs, your kitchen will stay chic for years to come.