Choosing the right appliances for your kitchen
Could a kitchen function as well as it does without its associated appliances? Sure, the majority of work often centers around the sink, but there is so much more that a kitchen is designed to handle. And these tasks cannot be completed without the correct appliances in place. So, when choosing them, you need to determine what your needs are exactly. If you’ve always been very basic with your method of meal preparation there’s no need to go overboard by purchasing all high end accessories. Keep it simple whenever possible. On the other hand, you don’t want to be caught without the right tools on hand. Let’s take a look at what’s what…
First you need to determine if you want a gas, electric, or induction range. If you’re unsure, consider some of the stats. A gas oven loses about 40% of its heat from burner to pan. You’ll lose the least amount of heat with an induction cooktop. Even so, it really comes down to preference, and it varies wildly among users. When shopping, ask about BTUs (British Thermal Units), measurements of energy. Anything above 9,200 BTU is a serious piece of machinery. Also ask about variable control – how long will a simmer maintain itself without burning out? You’ll want burner grates made of cast iron or metal that conducts heat for better transfer.
If you want your meals to cook faster, a high performance convection oven is most likely necessary. It circulates heat with a fan, cooking food faster and more evenly. On the other hand, if your oven work is pretty much limited to baking, the traditional bake/roast/broil options of a standard oven are more in line with your requirements. If you can splurge handsomely, why not get both style ovens, stacked or side by side?
Even the most modest cooktop needs a ventilation system to suck the exhaust (smoke & fumes) out of the kitchen and into the outdoor atmosphere (no, it does not contribute to global warming). Sure, it emits a continuous sound in the form of suction, but that’s better than emitting hazardous fumes. If the noise is a genuine issue, opt for a range hood with an exterior motor (they can be tweaked to blend with the aesthetic surroundings). Exterior and inline blowers facilitate high efficiency ventilation. Pick a hood with adequate cfm’s (cubic feet per minute) for your cooktop. A four burner electric cooking surface with ventilation that works at 400 cfm’s is standard. Since they are so large they sometimes become the unintentional focal points of the room. That’s why they are available in such wildly appealing styles. You can get them in everything from modern to traditional and steel to glass.
Typically, free standing models will slide into a space from which it will generally protrude six to seven inches beyond the average two foot counter depth. Exact counter depth models are available that offer the advantage of appearing as though they are built in. But it’s the quality of the compressor that really makes a difference. Single compressor units work harder to keep the fridge and freezer at their optimal temps. A dual compressor costs more but will keep food fresh longer. It’s worth it if you buy a lot of groceries. Of course there are many door styles and configurations to choose from. They’re a matter of preference unless you deal with exceptionally high volume. In that case, separate unites – refrigerator and freezer – are ideal. Add a built in water/ice maker for added convenience.
Unless you have the microwave built in, it’s going to take up a lot of space. But that’s okay – designers have been taking that into consideration over the last thirty years. Now microwaves are available in nearly any size. Convection microwaves are efficient, and double as a high speed oven. You may even consider a microwave drawer that is non-obtrusively space efficient and pulls out when needed.
Although traditional dishwashers that pull down from the top are still the most common, easier to load drawer dishwashers can be installed at any height to accommodate maximum reachability. It’s a new convenience gaining popularity. However, the traditional styles can now be paneled to blend in for a seamless appearance which is creating renewed interest, securing the traditional style’s place in the mainstream for the foreseeable future. If you enjoy a spacious layout you may want an additional mini dishwasher by the wet bar to handle the glassware.
It’s a good idea to pick the sink at the same time that you choose the cabinets and countertops. And if you have a high-end stone countertop, you’ll want a sink of equal stature. Otherwise, if the sink wears out early, you’ve got to lift that heavy material to replace it, and it’s not a cheap procedure! Under-mount sinks are installed before the countertops. Pick under-the-sink cabinetry that creates a seamless look. There is an array of styles, sizes, shapes, depths and colors. For the most part, common sense and intuition will help you with the general specs. You may prefer stainless steel, enameled cast iron, acrylic, fiberglass or quartz. They may have appealing features such as an attached cutting board or matching hoods. Determine how you use the sink before picking one up. Do you prep and clean in the same spot at the same time, or do you need a separate prep sink? Are you height challenged? Such determinations should affect the placement and depth of your sink.
When it comes to buying anything for your kitchen you should have all your bases covered and boxes checked. This is done with research, determining your needs and fitting it all within your budget.