The days when a kitchen was a stove, a refrigerator, a sink, and some cabinets, are gone. New kitchens today have a startling range of possibilities: double ovens with microwave/convection options, steamer ovens, halogen ovens, wine refrigerators, induction cooktops, grills, downdraft exhaust, and many other newcomers to the appliance scene.
In planning a new kitchen, it’s best to start with the appliance selection before launching into the cabinet layout. The specific appliances you select will have a dramatic impact on what you can do with your cabinets.
You need to be extremely specific early on, not only about which types of appliances you want, but also in terms of the specific manufacturer. For any given appliance type, there is usually a wide range of sizes, colors, and finishes available.
You can plan for industry-standard types of appliances, of course, but you’ll end up with an industry-standard type of kitchen. This may be okay, but many homeowners want something a bit more custom-tailored.
For example, a refrigerator may be purchased in varying widths, heights, depths, and various freezer/refrigerator compartment configurations. If you’re considering a top-of-the-line wide, shallow type, you’ll need to know this before the cabinet layout is started.
Will you be purchasing a traditional stove with built-in oven, or is a cooktop with a separate wall-mounted oven more to your liking? Your cooking style and preferences need to be thought out in detail.
Don’t forget about planning for your smaller appliances, too. Many households have a food processor, large electric mixer, espresso machine, and on and on. Consider how you’d like to accommodate these.
Should they be stored in an appliance garage, for example? Maybe you’d like to have your heavy mixer on a rising shelf and stored out of sight.
Some tips on major appliance/fixture selection:
1) Don’t forget to research the color options in the appliance manufacturers you’re considering. It can be annoying to end up with one black appliance in an all white kitchen.
2) Find out if the appliance is available with a replaceable front panel. Coordinating an appliance with cabinets is often easier when you can use a matching panel made by the cabinet manufacturer.
3) If you’re looking at cooktops, look carefully at the heat output of the burners. You may want to consider a cooktop that has at least one high-output burner if you do much quick sauteing or wok cooking.
Make sure, too, that the larger burners are at the front, where they are useful for sauteing. Not all manufacturers have had the foresight to put the slow simmering burners at the back, and the quick cooking burners at the front.
4) Consider using a sink with one large bowl and a small second bowl, if necessary, rather than equally sized double or triple sink bowls. The convenience of being able to get a large roasting pan or platter into the sink is often neglected.
Selecting appliances takes time and work. Staying on top of the latest developments in appliances is not easy. Even full-time pros have trouble keeping up with all the rapid advancements.
Immersing yourself in recent home improvement magazines is essential if you want to make sure you know your options. A consultation with a design professional who specializes in kitchens can be a good investment, too.
Visit lots of showrooms and ask lots of questions. The time you spend researching your appliances will make your life, and cooking, much easier for a long time to come.