Kitchen Remodel/Appliances

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search

One of the most common mistakes in kitchen planning is not to pick the large appliances and large installations like the sink first. They need to be selected first – in particular before the cabinets – because it will be very easy to plan a kitchen around appliances. Doing it the other way around may force you to make compromises where you don't actually want to. Researching appliances is also serious business and may take you much more time than picking cabinets.

The choice of large appliances and of sinks is very much a question of individual needs, habits and preferences, as well as of budget. So the best preparation is to thoroughly know yourself and very carefully study the way you actually use those appliances. The way you do if will possibly be completely different from how my family does it. Here is what we were looking for:


[edit | edit source]

Our criteria were that the fridge…

  • was a built-in model; no gaps needed at the sides and top for air exchange
  • had a depth of no more than 30" (76 cm); we wanted the appliance to be as flush as possible with the cabinet fronts
  • had the best ratio of interior space and exterior dimensions (some built-in devices are monstrous but offer astonishingly little interior space)
  • had a top fridge; we open the fridge much more often than the freezer and therefore want it at a convenient height
  • had a bottom freezer, with drawers only, and an ice maker inside; yes, many devices have an ice dispenser in the door front – but honestly: do you really want that colossus of a mechanism if the alternative is a skinnier and overall more elegant door? For the same reason, we decided against a water dispenser, too.
  • had doors that either open the direction we want it to, or doors that can be reversed
  • was energy wise and quiet
  • had a brushed stainless steel front to match all other appliances; this kind of surface probably gives you the most options if something needs to be replaced

We ended up picking an Italian import which actually met all of our criteria. This device was probably a bit smaller than the more conventional one that we had before, but we figured that a somehow smaller fridge would help us tremendously to stay on top of our food storage organization. It was surprisingly delivered without handles. Obviously they are not really necessary, but who wants fingerprints all over a beautiful surface? So we decided to invest in those, too.

Wine chiller

[edit | edit source]

A wine chiller made sense for our household for two reasons: to disencumber the refrigerator and because we really value a properly tempered wine. Our criteria were that the device…

  • had two temperature zones that can be controlled individually
  • had a door that either opens the direction we want it to, or a door that can be reversed
  • offered a reasonable ratio of quality and cost (wine chillers can be crazy expensive)
  • had just the right size for our needs
  • was energy wise and quiet

We are no expert bakers; whoever is really into cake baking or oven roasted meats will probably investigate much deeper into ovens than we did. Our criteria were that the device…

  • was a built-in model
  • featured true convection (that is a built-in fan to circulate hot air, plus an additional heat source)
  • featured self-cleaning (a special cycle of very high heat which turns spills to a powdery ash that you can later vacuum or wipe away)
  • offered a reasonable ratio of quality and cost

We picked a device from Ikea, Adrätt, for the two reasons that it was – considering the quality – surprisingly cheap and that Ikea grant five years of warranty on appliances. They don't make their own kitchen appliances but rebrand products of other manufacturers. Adrätt was probably a rebranded Frigidaire Gallery. Was I say because it was discontinued after we pre-ordered it. We called Ikea multiple times for updates about the availability, and at some point they even encouraged us to consider purchasing a different product. Luckily we didn't, because six months after our first attempt we surprisingly could order it and got it delivered.

Microwave oven

[edit | edit source]

My criteria for a microwave oven were that it…

  • could be used for built-in
  • had a good ratio of interior space to outer dimensions
  • had a large turntable
  • had a decent wattage
  • had a door swinging to the side rather than to the bottom, since we wanted to install the device above the oven, which is kind of high up; I am not too tall and need to easily reach the interior
  • matched the oven, visually

We decided to buy another product from Ikea, Huvudsaklig (obviously a Frigidaire Gallery, too). This one was rather expensive and we probably could have saved a lot of money choosing something different. The reasons why we bought it anyways were that we liked this product, that it came with a five year warranty, too, and above all that we were sure that the trim kit would fit. As you can see in the picture, this device is not as wide as the cabinet; Ikea (and other manufacturers) therefore offer a frame to cover the gaps around the device.


[edit | edit source]

The old cooking range had been a conventional gas range that combined cooktop and oven in one appliance. As I will more explain in a later chapter, I wanted to divide those functions and assign them to two different locations within the kitchen. We also decided to switch from a gas range to electric and induction. One reason was that we recently installed PV on the roof and make our own electricity. Another was that a ceramic cooktop is so much easier to clean than a gas range. An induction cooktop gives you the best of both: low maintenance plus super-fast responding temperature control. The only downside that the change had for us was the necessity to acquire a whole new set of pots and pans, because induction only works with cookware with bottoms that are made out of magnetic metal. My criteria for the choice of appliance were that the cooktop…

  • featured induction
  • had a good ratio of quality and cost

Again, we picked an Ikea product, Särklassig (another Frigidaire). It features four cooking zones plus a resting zone which is more than sufficient for our needs. Only later I read that Ikea's alternative product, Särdrag, would possibly have been the better choice because the glass surface is supposed to be harder, but it is more expensive, and so far we didn't have any issues with scratches yet. The surface is also much easier to clean than the conventional ceramic hob that we had in our previous home.

The only other downside of this product (as probably of many other of that kind) that we discovered is that the touch controls are sensitive to water. So when there is a spill over the controls, which happens a lot, at least to me, the appliance has a tendency to switch off arbitrarily, and we have to rub them dry carefully before they become responsive again.

Range hood

[edit | edit source]

Since I was planning to place the cooktop on a peninsula, we needed a ceiling mounted island range hood. Before installation, our contractor built, besides an electrical connection, an exhaust duct through the roof (which is almost directly above the kitchen, with no other story in between). My criteria for the choice of appliance were that the range hood…

  • had roughly the same dimensions as the cooktop below
  • could be adjusted in height in order to have the proper distance from the cooktop
  • had a high maximum suction power (CFM, cubic feet of air per minute); in an open kitchen this is particularly desirable
  • runs as quiet as possible
  • had filters that can be cleaned rather than exchanged
  • gave good working light; this had been a weak spot in our previous home; but above a cooktop you'll want all the light that you can get, and ceiling light alone is never sufficient
  • was nice to look at, because it would be installed on eye's height and therefore be one of the first things in the space everybody would look at
  • had a good ratio of quality and cost

Again, Ikea had something quite nice, Undantag. But this time I decided to go with a different brand, for the reason that the device of my choice featured a filter that can be washed in the dishwasher, whereas the Ikea product requires the purchase of replacement filters.


[edit | edit source]

I have a thing with Bosch dishwashers, we had those over decades, we trust them and they feature a third rack on top for utensils. The smaller the items are that you put in the dishwasher (in particular when you wash umpteen of them) the higher up you will want them to be placed in the dishwasher in order to avoid unnecessary bending down.

Our other criteria were that the dishwasher…

  • had a good ratio of quietness and cost; this is particularly important in an open kitchen
  • featured a delay function (to make it conveniently possible to run the washer after everybody went to bed)
  • supported an installation not in the immediate proximity of the water connections (= where the sink is) but a couple of feet away from those; many people are not aware of this, but is not chiseled in granite that a dishwasher must be placed beside the kitchen sink; since it will be installed with water hoses (for fresh water and waste water) anyways you are at liberty to pretty much place it where ever you want it to be as long as a certain maximum distance (10–12 ft/3–4 meters: I am talking hose length) is not exceeded.

In our previous home, we had an apron front farm sink which we liked very much. Compared to any other type of kitchen sink, an apron sink brings the basin a bit to the front. Differently from a regular farmhouse sink, the front is exposed, which visually connects the sink to other showy kitchen appliances such as the refrigerator. For actual dish washing, we always use an additional plastic bowl, but the large basin works great for us, it can be used for all sorts of purposes. Our product came with a (removable) grid that not only protects the bottom of the basin from scratches but also can be used to let things drip after washing or rinsing them. For this remodel, we decided to splurge a little and to pick a "work station sink", that is a product with an integrated ledge that can accommodate things such as a cutting board or an additional grid.

Apron sinks, like farmhouse sinks, can be mounted two different ways. In our previous home, we had a drop-in mount which brings the sink's upper edges to a level slightly above the counter top. The advantages of this mount are that you don't need to bend down so much to reach the basin's bottom and that the mount will show off all four top edges of the product in all their beauty; this is certainly the visually more appealing option. The most obvious disadvantage is that you cannot wipe off water from the countertop directly into the basin, because the rim will be in your way. It also removes integrated soap dispensers further way from the basin which can make it impossible to properly use them. In this remodel, we therefore decided for an undermount (see image). In this case, the sink is installed at a lower height, and parts of the upper rim will later be covered by the countertop.

Since we already had a trusted brand and knew that a 30 inch sink would meet our requirements best, the selection process was rather straightforward. Nonetheless, before finalizing the purchase, we still had to make sure that the kitchen cabinet system that we meanwhile had decided for would include a cabinet that we can use or make usable as a sink base.

See also

[edit | edit source]