Faith's Kitchen Renovation: The Confusing Journey of Buying Kitchen Appliances

Faith's Kitchen Renovation: The Confusing Journey of Buying Kitchen Appliances

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Faith Durand
Mar 28, 2013

Last we checked in with my kitchen renovation, we were wrestling IKEA cabinets and installing them with (ahem) sex bolts. (See all the posts about my kitchen renovation so far here.) Now I'd like to take a step back and talk about a process that should be sexy but is actually fraught with confusion, uncertainty, and a lack of resources: Buying kitchen appliances.

Read on to see how we navigated the overwhelming process of buying appliances, and to see what we picked out. I'll talk about how buying a range top can actually save you money, as well as our one amazing Craigslist find!

A note! Thank you to all of you who emailed asking WHERE THE HECK ARE THE REST OF YOUR RENOVATION POSTS?? I'm so sorry it's taking me so long to get to the big reveal. My camera had an accident and is in the shop. I hope to get it back, and to finish off my photos and the rest of this series, in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your patience; I totally appreciate your interest!

Appliance Shopping: It's Like Poking Around in the Dark

Last summer, at the beginning of our renovation, I found myself in a pickle. On the one hand, I had an exciting situation: I needed an entire set of new appliances. We had sold the old dishwasher and gas range to the folks who bought the house's old kitchen cabinets. So we were starting from scratch, and that was a little thrilling.

But let's be honest: I had no idea where to start. Buying appliances is challenging, overwhelming, and expensive.

I often said during the appliance buying process it's ironic that people will read copious reviews and do so much market research on small electronics and other household items like mixers, radios, and speakers, agonizing over the final decision. And yet some of those same people will spend thousands of dollars on a high-end range after they've done little more than twiddle the knobs in the showroom. There are no good websites to read reviews and compare/contrast different appliances, and you usually can't try out an appliance for a month before deciding whether you want to keep it, more's the pity.

So how do you invest in a new appliance? How do you really know whether an appliance is right for you? You go on word of mouth, reputation, and price, which explains why many appliance manufacturers put so much into marketing. And then you take the leap and hope it all works out. Can a stove or a dishwasher ever be anything more than a really expensive yet somewhat arbitrary purchase?

Those were some of the things running through my mind over and over as we began our appliance hunt, searching for not just one new appliance, but five.

Delivering the appliances — an exciting day.

The Budget

I like to think of myself as a frugal person who makes judiciously expensive purchases when warranted and justified. I knew that kitchen appliances wouldn't be cheap, unless we scavenged on Craigslist and bought used, probably unmatching, appliances. This seemed a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach, since used appliances usually don't come with warranties; and when going to all the trouble and expense of building a new kitchen, it seems only right to kit it out with well-working (and beautiful) appliances that would, I hoped, last for many years.

Our approach to the budget was to research what appliances generally cost, and to see if we could pinpoint good options at the lower end of the scale. Adding it all up,  we felt it was realistic to spend about $6000 total on our refrigerator, oven, stovetop, dishwasher, and hood. This sounds like a lot of money, and it was! But after talking to other friends going through similar renovations, I felt reassured that it was a reasonable investment for quality appliances.

Today I'll walk through each appliance and our decision process, and explain what we ended up with, and how. 

Later this summer I will revisit and review each of these appliances to share how they are working out, after six months of use.

The stove in its crate.

The Stove

Ah the stove, the heart and hearth. I have met many cooks who daydream over stoves. Their fantasies range from the old-fashioned AGA, to the professional quality Wolf, to the sleek induction cooktop. But I didn't moon over stoves, especially macho beefed-up ranges. I wanted my stove to have capacity and power (boiling a pot of water in under 5 minutes is delightful!). But I am not a restaurant chef, and I don't turn out 120 covers a night. I didn't want a stovetop that looked like it belonged in a restaurant kitchen.

So while I didn't have an ideal in mind when I began shopping, I did know that I wouldn't be spending the $3000 to $5000 for a professional-style Wolf, Viking, or BlueStar — for reasons of both aesthetics and price.

I knew that I wanted gas (which is just what I'm most comfortable with), and I quickly decided that I wanted a range top, which fit my primary criteria: That my stove be easy to clean. A range top slides in, with countertop on either side, instead of getting dropped into a countertop cut-out. The range tops I liked had the knobs on the front of the stove, instead of on the surface — safely far away from splatters and spills. After the laborious cleaning of the knobs on my old drop-in stovetop in my rental, I was ready for something different.

And then, it happened. Somehow, somewhere, I saw a photo of an Italian Bertazzoni range top. After that, it was all over. My heart was taken. I fell for its clean design and how it looked like it belonged in a home kitchen, not a restaurant. I loved the knobs that point one way and make it easy to see just where the heat is at. And, most importantly, the price for a range top was the lowest I could find.

The Stove Details
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