They make it look so easy on HGTV
November 6, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

We're remodeling our kitchen, yay. But...

We're going to do a mid range kitchen remodel this winter. We are planning to save money by keeping our existing cabinet boxes and having new doors and drawers made because our cabinets (though from 1953!) are very good quality. We will be straightening out one of the cabinets that was installed on an angle so that an idiotic 1950s style planter could be installed in the counter (so SO hideous) and having the stupid and useless desk and "decorative" (read: seriously ugly) upper cabinet removed. We will be getting new countertops and new flooring. We intend to keep the one good feature the kitchen has, a large, gorgeous copper hood.

Since we're saving money by keeping the existing cabinets and not altering the layout, I want to splurge on some nice professional style stainless steel appliances. I want a 36" counter depth side by side refrigerator, a 27" built in electric double oven, a 36" 6 burner propane cooktop, a 24" dishwasher and a 24" built in microwave. I would like all of these appliances to match, but it seems like every brand that, for example, makes a good fridge makes the world's worst dishwasher or whatever.

Any appliance recommendations, anyone? Also, I've never had this sort of thing done before, so if anyone has any recommendations about counter or flooring materials, I'm all ears (eyes?). In case it is relevant, my kitchen is approximately 13" x 15", L shaped with an external door on one side and an internal door on the other. Across from the L shaped part, there is a built in banquette (sp?) and the oven and cooktop portion of the kitchen. Our house is sort of lodge style with epodes beams and such (though not in the kitchen).

Thanks in advance.
posted by Maisie to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: That would be exposed beams, good grief.
posted by Maisie at 4:35 PM on November 6, 2011

sometimes, they can match even if they aren't the same brand. My in laws have a bosch dishwasher and an amana fridge - I think they match because there is absolutely nothing on the outside of either of them. The microwave and the oven, on the other had, have visible knobs and buttons, so matching there maybe matters more (they have whirlpool, I think, for both).

Everyone I know who has a bosch dishwasher loves them. They are very very quiet, which is great. Otherwise, I can tell you that I hate our whirlpool fridge, but that has everything to do with its layout and nothing to do with the fact that its whirlpool. I've loved all our other whirlpool appliances (washer/dryer combo; microwave; range).
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:52 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recommend caesarstone countertops. Similar price to granite, but no upkeep required. You can't burn it, it doesn't need resealing, its basically maintenance-free. I love it.
posted by Joh at 5:04 PM on November 6, 2011

You may want to re-think the 6 burner. I have one and I regret the loss of potential cabinet space to getting such a cavernous piece of equipment. If you proceed with the 6 burner then I would recommend one that has double oven so that you do not waste energy heating a large space for a pan of lasagna. Get a 6 if you entertain A LOT otherwise, it is overkill.

A brand that I suggest staying away from is Blue Star. It is the range I have, and the service from the company or lack there of is sub-par for something you are paying a chunk of change.

My Bosch dishwasher has been sturdy and reliable. It has been quiet and has handled the fingerprints and tribulations of three toddlers.

If you go hardwood flooring definitely get it sealed; life is much simpler for cleaning.

If you do pastries and bake a great deal consider having a baking station area with the countertop is marble or a nice stone. Also, be sure the counter height suits YOU. Sucks to be a petite baker and feel that you are reaching up to kneed or require a stool

You can be quite thrifty using Ikea butcher block counter if granite counters give you sticker shock. If you go with a sink be sure that it works with your height. If you are petite than a super deep sink is going to hurt your back if lift heavy pots or need to reach down to deal with things.

If you want lighting in your upper cabinets but don't want to wire pucks than a rope light works just great and you only pay for one outlet install. The rope light is like $18 and lasts forever. You just put in sturdy clips to hold the rope in the upper section of the cabinet and voila, in cabinet lighting on the cheap.

The best book on kitchen remodeling was, "Kitchen Remodeling with Murder, Suicide or Divorce" also the Homesite forums are good but be prepared for some serious talk about what to buy. Some of it is good advice while others not so much. YMMV.
posted by jadepearl at 5:12 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've been out of the appliance world too long to have specific brand or model recommendations, but I will pass along a few bits of advice.

1. Triple measure everything, including how all the doors to your appliances and cabinets are going to open.
2. Don't forget to reinstall the cabinet filler strips, if you disassemble your cabinets (which you should do if you are putting new floors in as the floors should be wall to wall). Otherwise you will have problems with opening things.
2. Try to buy the appliances from one store. They'll be much more willing to give you a deal the larger the total purchase is. But don't be afraid to shop around either. This is a big purchase, give it the time it deserves.
3. Make sure you understand the return policy and the manufacturer's warranty. Warranties vary widely between brands, or even between parts of a single appliance.
4. If you are having anything installed by the store, check if they subcontract the installation. Not necessarily a problem, but can make remediating an installation issue harder.
5. If you are using propane to fuel a gas cooktop, make sure you get the conversion kit.
6. Speaking of which, you'll probably need new hoses and plugs (sold separately) for some of this stuff. Even if you think you can reuse the old plug or hose, I'd recommend replacing it. Who knows how old it is, or if it will fail next month? Electric plugs in particular are sold separately (probably just for the oven in your case) because the type of wall outlet varies depending on when it was installed. Look at, take a picture of, your outlet before you go to the store.
7. Bosch dishwashers are generally very good, but expensive. Features I look for in dishwashers are: how quiet is it, does it have a water sensor in the bottom that detects leaks (rare, or at least it was five years ago), does it have its own garbage disposal, does it have three spray arms (below the bottom rack, below the top rack, above the top rack), does it have a gentle/wineglass cycle?

Hope that helps.
posted by postel's law at 5:19 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

When we did ours we used all Kenmore appliances with the faux stainless finish and have been very pleased with all of them.
posted by tamitang at 5:44 PM on November 6, 2011

These days I see a lot of fridges in high-end kitchens that disappear into the cabinets by having wood doorfronts that match the cabinetry . This could work for you if the fridge is the odd brand out.
posted by xo at 5:47 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the triple measuring, especially when it comes to the fridge. You might not need a counter-depth fridge-- a lot of fridges might be shallow enough to work with any counters. But measure _everything_.

This means:
- the standard height/width/depth of the space you've got and the fridge, taking space behind and over the fridge for heat dissipation and water outlets
- the measurements of the fridge without doors, and the doorways into the kitchen: fridge might not fit through doorways otherwise
- crazy-ass, tape-grease-pen-onto-fridge-doors-and-open-them measurements. Make sure you can open the doors fully, given the space you're working with
- Triple-check your triple measurements. This is a costly purchase!

Also agreeing with buying your appliances from one place. A lot of places will give discounts on multiple-appliance purchases. Don't just go for the place that gives the lowest advertised price.

The only new thing I might add is to bring a magnet with you when you shop, to see which sides you can stick stuff onto. I dunno if most fridges these days don't take to magnets, but my only disappointment in my fancy new fridge is that I can't stick stuff onto the front with regular magnets. It's a total bummer, man.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:50 PM on November 6, 2011

If you are re-doing lighting I strongly suggest you at least investigate LED options. For example, LED rope lights can be gotten with dimmers and work very well for under cabinet lighting. Color and light spread will dictate if you want something similar for ceiling lights, but worth investigating.

Counters give you all sorts of fun options. Granite is timeless, and any solid surface (Corian, Swanstone, Ceasarstone) is durable and good long term value, if you like the eco-story then Icestone is a good product like thse. A much more funky option can be precast architectural concrete (if you find a good custom shop with experience in this). If you don't mind a "working countertop" that ages you can build in an end grain butcher block.

For flooring, some things to consider are tile (clay, ceramic or stone), laminates like pergo, sheet linoleum, cork, hardwood. Whatever strikes the right balance of cost, feel and durability for you. Most specialist suppliers will have displays or installed locations, ask to see them.
posted by meinvt at 6:07 PM on November 6, 2011

Response by poster: Some things I should have mentioned in the original post:

1. We already have a regular depth fridge. Because of its placement (in the corner right next to the exterior door), we already know that we need a counter depth model. We could rearrange the appliances, but I would rather save that money so I can get nicer counters, appliances, whatever.

2. We already have a 36" propane cooktop and 27" double wall ovens that I got about 7 years ago. At that time we had the appropriate electrical and plumbing done, so I think we should be able to replace them with nicer models fairly easily with the only material expense being the appliances themselves.

3. I've considered getting a refrigerator and dishwasher that will accept cabinetry panels, but my concern about that is that our kitchen is already very dark. Because of the rustic style of the house, I think we need to stick with medium toned wood cabinets -- though in truth darker cabinets would probably be more in keeping with the style. I was thinking stainless steel would help lighten the kitchen up a little, but I don't know...

Ugh, this kitchen is really such a disaster. It is literally from 1953 (we found the original design drawings when we moved in) and has never been remodeled. It's amazing that the cabinets haven't fallen apart in nearly 60 years, but unfortunately the original owners bought the highest quality ugliest shit ever created. I'll tell you, I was really hoping for a tree to crash through the kitchen when Hurricane Irene came through, but as usual, I had no such luck.
posted by Maisie at 6:17 PM on November 6, 2011

If you do have any questions about flooring (and countertops) feel free to MeFiMail me.
I grew up in/around the industry and thus have far more knowledge than I'll ever use.

In fact, let me know what sort of lifestyle you have and I'll give you some suggestions.

As for appliances, we recently bought a new refrigerator from Samsung. So far we're very pleased.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:54 PM on November 6, 2011

I have used Kenmore stainless steel appliances for years and have no complaints. Just bought a whole new set for the kitchen of the house we are building right now in fact. There are certainly fancier brands but unless you are a gourmet cook, you won't know the difference. Couple things---in my experience, in appliances they don't all have to be the same brand EXCEPT that stainless steel color varies by brand. So watch that. Also some brands use the same colors or design but have different lines you can choose from with the same stainless steel color so maybe utilize that to get the best selection of items. Second---go for the fingerprint resistant, especially if you have kids.

Last-spring for the quietest dishwasher you can find---worth every penny, especially if it is located such that you have to listen to it as you watch TV/sleep/have a conversation.
posted by supercapitalist at 7:38 PM on November 6, 2011

Ditto Bosch dishwasher. Worth the extra money. It is very quiet. You put the dishes in without rising (seriously dirty) and they come out perfectly clean. Ours is ten years old and it is still perfect.
posted by Prayless at 8:21 PM on November 6, 2011

Stainless will lighten up the room. Seconding the non-six-burner unless you are doing some serious cooking. I had a five-burner at one point that was really great.

If you can, try and keep the triangle intact. This sounds similar to a layout a friend-of-a-friend had, and it was a joy to cook in.

Synthetic countertops are more in style, and can be much cheaper and easier to clean and maintain than the stone or other styles.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:43 PM on November 6, 2011

Fisher Paykel dish drawers. Cork flooring.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:43 PM on November 6, 2011

There are several companies who make quartz countertops; I have Cambria's.

Consumer Reports is your friend.
posted by brujita at 9:48 PM on November 6, 2011

In the midst of our own kitchen reno here, I looked at Bosch dishwashers but decided on Miele instead- not terribly different in price, but Miele seems to have better reliability recently - i.e. Bosch no longer being made quite as well. You may want to compare for yourself. We're going with a panel front on it. There is no comparison in terms of water and energy use between the European dishwashers and the American ones. I'll avoid making any analogies...

We chose a Frigidaire 36" side by side, but I can't tell you anything good or bad about it since it hasn't been delivered yet. Mostly selected to maintain look with existing Frigidaire range (only appliance we're keeping - so I can't help with the cooktop or oven, either).

Microwaves seem to often be the odd man out, you just need a proper mounting kit and it should match any other stainless steel appliances. We'll be going with Panasonic. The dealer at a major appliance center we went to said that there are really only 2 or 3 manufacturers of microwaves anyway.

We were going to install vinyl flooring (we have it in our current kitchen, and it is great for when you drop dishes or glasses) but the engineered hardwood that is there can be refinished, so that's what we decided to do. I really like the vinyl (linoleum would be similar) since it is super easy to clean, including with a steam mop which obviates chemical cleaners.
posted by birdsquared at 11:19 PM on November 6, 2011

We used all Kitchenaid appliances in ours this year, including a counter-depth fridge. I'm generally happy with them all, but have only had them for a few months. I do not have built-in double ovens or a cooktop, I bought this instead. My microwave is also convection, which gives me three ovens for big cooking jobs. I love the microwave, not so much the fridge. I bought all the same brand because I also wanted them to match, but now I think I would have done it differently and bought the best rated brands of each appliance.
posted by raisingsand at 7:21 AM on November 7, 2011

I've heard a lot of good things about Corian countertops. It's highly stain/burn resistant, easy to clean, doesn't chip and if anything does happen to mar the surface you can just buff it out. So, at least, says an architect friend who recently installed it in her kitchen. It comes in a huge range of colors, too, including just plain white if you really want to get some light into the space.

Dwell magazine recently did a piece on various countertop substances from an ecological p.o.v. I think this link covers the same ground. A while back they also did an issue with a series of articles on kitchen remodeling--you might want to see if you can track that down.
posted by yoink at 10:26 AM on November 7, 2011

We're doing a kitchen remodel, total DIY. It's simultaneously delightful and all-consuming. My personal commentary on countertops:
- solid-surface (like corian or h-macs or whatever brand) is a really nice option, particularly in light colors. Go to Lowe's and look at their displays, and you'll see lots of tiny little hairline scratches, which come up as white marks. On a dark countertop this is pretty distracting, but on a light counter, no big deal. They buff out pretty easily with SoftScrub cleaner. It's easy to scuff and easy to maintain. It's easy to form/shape, so the costs for cutouts (sink, cooktop, rounded corners, inset drainboard/runnels) is really low. They shape it and seal seams between sections by heating to about 300F - thus, anything hotter than about 250 will do bad stuff to the surface.
- quartz (caesarstone, silestone, zodiaq) is awesome. It handles heat well but is not entirely bulletproof because the binder that holds the quartz particles together will melt (or discolor if it's light-toned). This is what we would have gotten if we could afford it, but it was the priciest stuff we looked at.
- granite, we expected to be way out of our price range, but the simpler colors are very affordable (and I don't like tiger-stripe swirls anyway!). It's very heat resistant to temporary things (setting a hot pan on the counter) but can crack due to longer-term thermal issues (most common story is running a crockpot all day, turning it off after dinner, and finding a crack the next morning). We don't have it up and running yet, so I can't comment on sealant issues, but I expect it to be fine. Dark colors are usually associated with very dense stones, and are more resistant to stains than lighter colors; on the other hand, the standard polished surface is merely "glossy" on light stones, while the dark ones become black mirrors. We almost didn't get granite at all because - while it looked great from above, all you'd see from one side of the kitchen was shallow-angle glare off the island from windows at the far side. Antiqued finish is not the mirror-polish. Jury's still out as to whether maintenance is more difficult.

Flooring -
Ceramic/stone and other inflexible tiles were not an option for our old slope/bendy-floored house. We're doing grouted vinyl, like this. It's more common than I'd thought - now that I'm aware of it, I notice it in about half the restaurants/pubs I go into these days. We put this in our bathroom remodel a year ago, and like it a lot, so it's also going into the kitchen.

Appliances... I can't offer any ideas; so long as the fronts are all stainless and the handles are roughly similar I think that qualifies as matching. And heck, my handles aren't even all the same (stove is stainless, fridge is black). I doubt I'm picky enough to offer you advice.
posted by aimedwander at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2011

We had Corian counter tops. They were very easy to clean, etc etc etc. But ours had a built in sink and I HATED the sink (not because it was Corian, but because it was split down the middle and not deep enough or large enough on either side to say, clean a cookie sheet). We could not have the sink changed without having the whole countertop replaced. I would much rather have had an undermount stainless, so if you go Corian, keep that in mind!
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2011

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