When it comes to appliances, you really can have it all. Today's products are stylish, hardworking, and environmentally in tune. There are models for every pocketbook and style. Don't settle for anything less than exactly what you want. Heed the experts' advice, and research the newest developments before you sign on the dotted line.
Soup's on -- but on what? The traditional range or stove combining a cooktop above with an oven below is an affordable, space-saving solution for many households.
However, serious chefs are drawn to commercial-style (or sometimes actual restaurant-grade) stoves. With six or eight burners, basting and grilling functions, and built-in warming ovens, these gems are an incentive to cook. Not only that, in addition to stainless steel, the stoves come in savory colors such as eggplant, lemonade, and mint julep.
Modular cooktops that let you add features such as griddles, steamers, and rotisseries are also popular. These days, a modular approach to kitchen design allows people to better plan how they want to cook.
For example, one wall oven near the island, another on the other side of the room for items that require less monitoring; or a gas cooktop in the island and an electric oven under the counter.
Look for appliances that do several jobs such as wall units that offer the convenience of a microwave, a warming drawer, and a convection oven all in one but fit in the same space as a standard-size double oven.
Range hoods -- in commercial-chic stainless steel, copper, tile, or country-mode wood -- enhance a decorating scheme while funneling cooking odors and vaporized grease to a fan.
For maximum effectiveness, a hood should be the same width as the cooking surface. But aside from that, the sky's the limit. Pair a richly carved wood range hood with traditional cabinets that sport arched cathedral doors, or combine a super-modern copper range hood with blonde wood cabinetry and glass counters for a Euro-style look.
Refrigerators have felt the commercial styling trend, too. Stainless-steel exteriors are featured in a wide range of prices and sizes. Consumer-friendly options include tilt-out storage drawers, deep-in-the-door bins, and pullout shelves.
Auxiliary refrigerators are also helpful: stand-alone ice-maker units, wine refrigerators, and refrigerator drawers that look like cabinets but reveal a freezer or refrigeration unit.
Does your household include hungry kids? A convenient pullout refrigerator drawer for snacks, a microwave situated below the counter, and an area of lowered counter space will keep them out of your work zone and satisfied.
Dishwashers are practically silent these days, and federal guidelines ensure they're energy-efficient. Some models have sensors that tell them when dishes are clean so no energy is wasted heating extra water. Available from domestic and foreign manufacturers, some models are streamlined like race cars.
If you don't relish the standard white, black, or stainless-steel finish for your appliances, manufacturers offer coordinated cabinet fronts for a very custom-designed look. When the work is done and the kitchen is quiet, it will be hard to decipher your tools from the cabinets!
Create a Work Triangle
In order for a kitchen and cook to function best, a good floor plan must be in order. The work triangle -- an important element in kitchen design for years -- describes the relationship of the three major work areas: refrigerator, cooking source, and sink.
If you draw an imaginary line from the sink to the cooktop to the fridge and back to the sink, it should form a triangle. With the diversity of appliances out there and with families cooking together, however, variations can also work. Two cooks, for example, could share the fridge with separate work stations adapted to their needs.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association has put forth guidelines for planning a work triangle:
- Each leg of the triangle should measure between four and nine feet long.
- The 3 legs' total length should equal between 12 and 26 feet.
- Traffic patterns shouldn't interfere with the triangle.
- Cabinetry shouldn't intersect any triangle leg by more than one foot.
Make Life EasyKitchen designers and manufacturers are doing their best to give us a helping hand. Have you thought of incorporating a pot spigot by the stove to fill unwieldy pots there instead of lugging them across the kitchen?
A piping-hot water dispenser would mean no more standing around waiting for the pot to boil for tea. Full-slide drawers that afford you an overall view -- even those distant corners -- facilitate organization. And when everybody's late again? Don't fret. A warming drawer heats up plates and keeps dinner warm and moist until you're ready.
On a higher level still, technology companies and appliance manufacturers are joining together to create a whole new generation of "smart appliances" to be controlled via the computer. From water faucet to oven, click on and tell them what to do!
Storage and shelving units aren't simply a method of hiding your belongings; they can be a point of interest and style as well. On the next page, check out the different designs that can help you keep your home neat and tidy.
To learn more about interior design and get tips and information on decorating your home, visit:
- Interior Decorating: Get tips on how to decorate your home and read about organizing a project and selecting an interior design that fits your lifestyle.
- Home Decorating Tips: Learn about home decorating styles and get tips on how to plan and complete decorating projects.
- Decorating Styles: Are you traditional or eclectic? Learn about decorating styles for your home.
- How to Design a Kitchen: Create a kitchen that works for you and get tips on how to choose and place appliances and create a decorating scheme.
- Kids Rooms: Get tips on decorating your child’s room, with information on colors, smart strategies, and money-saving tips.