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Tips for buying major kitchen appliances

Have you ever redesigned your kitchen? It can be a stressful process! As an appliance seller, I see, time and time again, customers make rash decisions when choosing their appliances due to stress and then live to regret their choice. There are steps to make sure you’re getting the right appliances for you and your lifestyle and you can save yourself some money and heartache down the road.

Start your appliance shopping adventure by choosing a color that works well with your cabinets and countertops. Stainless steel is all the rage right now, but it can smudge and show fingerprints quite easily, so those of you who have small children in the house with sticky fingers might want to consider white or black. There are some “stainless look” options that reduce fingerprints, but this feature is not available on all models, so your options will be limited. Also, stainless steel will add $50-$150 to the sticker price per appliance. Bisque (or almond or bisque depending on the manufacturer) will limit your choice of appliances even more than the “stainless look,” so if you’re set on that color, be prepared to sacrifice features and size.


The refrigerator is your biggest appliance and your biggest expense. Being the largest appliance in the kitchen, it is the one that will attract the most attention, so this is a good starting point. There are three basic styles of refrigerators: top-mount (this is the most common style, with the freezer on top), side-by-side, and French-door. I’ve had all three styles in my life and the French door has definitely been the most practical when it comes to design and space.

Measure, measure, measure! You would be surprised how many times I get a phone call from our delivery team telling me that they are bringing a cooler to the store because the cooler that was delivered was too big for the space. I ask each customer if they have any size restrictions for their refrigerator.

If they say they’re not sure, I urge them to go home and measure first. Measure the top, middle, and bottom of the opening. I say this because with older houses and mass-produced houses, such as houses in a development, the measurements can vary from a half inch to an inch and a half from the top to the bottom of the opening. I also ask that you check to see if the skirting wraps into the opening because if it’s going to fit snug, that skirting may need to be removed.

As with all home appliances, there are features that will add to the price that most people can do without. Blue LED lighting is one of them. This feature has been popular on newer models, but beware! Blue light will distort the color of fresh fruits and vegetables, making them look old-fashioned when they’re not. Not only will this feature increase the price, it could also make for more unnecessary trips to the grocery store! Spill-proof shelves are another “premium” feature that isn’t worth it. Some manufacturers boast that their spill-proof rack can hold up to 32 ounces of liquid, but (and this is a big but for this feature) that’s only if you gently pour 32 ounces of liquid onto an empty rack. The more items on the shelf, the less liquid it will hold and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never carefully poured anything onto an empty shelf in my fridge on purpose. Most spills will happen quickly as you get something out of the fridge and spill everywhere, whether it’s on the spill proof shelf or not!

Now that you’ve chosen your color and refrigerator, make sure you stick with the same brand. This is especially true for stainless steel. This is because the grain and tint of stainless steel and the tint and luster of the colors will vary between brands. Stainless steel or color on a Frigidaire appliance will look different than stainless steel or color on a Whirlpool appliance. That said, once a brand has been selected, it’s a good idea to stay within the same series of that particular brand. This will ensure that the handle style is the same on all appliances.


Stoves are either gas or electric and will almost always be 30 inches wide. If you are lucky enough to be able to choose between gas and electric without having to call a plumber to run a gas line, then I suggest gas. Gas cooktops allow for more precise control of heat on the cooking surface and can still be used during a power outage. Electric cooktops have two options: the ceramic/glass flat top or the old-fashioned coil-style cooktop. The coil-style cooktop can save money in two ways: they are generally less expensive to buy, and if one of the burners goes out, it can be easily replaced for less than $50. If you have your heart set on a flat top stove, check your pots and pans for warping. If so, it would be a good idea to invest in a new set because once they start to heat up, they will vibrate on the flat surface of the stove! Also, don’t pay extra for a convection range if you don’t plan on using the convection feature. A convection cooktop has a fan inside the oven to circulate heat. This allows for faster and more even cooking, but the temperature and baking time will need to be adjusted as the recipe calls for. Convection cooking can take some getting used to, so prepare for some disappointing results if you’ve never used this feature before.


Dishwashers can vary greatly in price, but you can usually get a great dishwasher in the mid-level price range. The sound decibel (or dB) rating is something to consider. An average conversation between two people is about 60dB. Every three dBs you lower it will be twice as quiet; for example, 57dB is twice 60dB and 54dB is twice 57dB and so on. Anything less than about 51dB is virtually silent. Anything below 50dB is overkill and not worth the extra expense. A stainless steel tub will help insulate sound and aid in the drying process. Some dishwashers have a food disposer connected to the drain system, but if you rinse the dishes before putting them in, then there is absolutely no need to pay extra for this.

all things alike

Once you’ve decided on a brand and series (which usually indicates price level), keep in mind that most appliance brands are pretty much equal in quality within the same price range. It all comes down to personal preference and experience with a particular brand. I have clients come in and say, “I hate brand X!

Everything I’ve ever had from them is rubbish!” and then 10 minutes later another customer says, “I love brand X! Everything I’ve had from them has exceeded my expectations! I’ll only buy that brand of appliance!” Most major appliance brands have the same features with slight variations. For example, most brands have some type of steam cleaning feature for their ranges, only brand X calls it “Mist-Off” and brand Y calls it “Aqua Clean”.

Looking for appliances can and should be a fun part of your kitchen remodel. Keeping these tips in mind will speed up the process and get you to your new kitchen faster and with less hassle than the average shopper!


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