Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tips for Buying Kitchen Appliances

I recently purchased some new appliances for our kitchen and I want to share some of the things I learned along the way.  


First, I decided I wanted a stainless steel finish.  Over the years we have owned white, black and stainless steel appliances.  White is my least favorite.  I immediately ruled out white because no matter how often you clean it, it always ends up looking dingy after a few years.  We had black appliances in our last house and they weren't bad.  They were great for hiding smudges and such but when I wanted to change the color of our cabinets it was more difficult with the black.  Unless I picked a dark color the appliances really stuck out more than I wanted.  You can see some pictures of that kitchen here.  


In our very first home we had upgraded to stainless and I loved it.  I painted the cabinets there twice and the stainless steel blended in nice with both colors.  Also, after watching tons of HGTV I know that just about everyone out there buying a house wants stainless steel appliances and if there is any chance that we could move in the next few years I want to make sure that I purchase something that will add marketability to our home.


Next, I knew that I wanted to get one of the new double-oven freestanding ranges.  We had a built-in double-oven at our old house and I loved it.  Since we are not replacing the cabinets in our kitchen here the only way for me to get the double-oven was buying a range with that feature.  Of course, these ranges are then more expensive than a standard single oven range but in the long run I knew I would be kicking myself if I didn't get the double-oven version.  


This is the GE double-oven I ended up purchasing.


Along the way I was at Home Depot getting an estimate on the counters, and I decided to check out the appliances in person while I was there.   I was able to get a lot more insight into all the appliances that I was considering and see the differences between the brands/models I liked online.  You really have to open and close the doors, pull out the racks, and generally make believe you are in your kitchen at home to decide if a particular model is going to work for you.  


In my case, my play-acting convinced me that even though I thought I wanted a french door refrigerator I really did not like the idea of bending over and having to rifle through the freezer drawer - not to mention the huge price difference between the french door models and the side-by-side models.   Also important to me was to pick a fridge that had two door shelves large enough to hold 4 gallons of milk at a time (we drink a lot of milk and I like to keep it in the door - just my little quirky thing).  I may not have thought of that if the store had not had milk containers in some of their display models.  There are just some features that you have to be able to see and touch in order to make the best decision.




Still I was nervous about spending so much money.  I decided that if I was going to spend $3000+ on appliances than it was worth $5 to get a one month pass on Consumer Reports
to make sure that I was getting the best value for my money.  I'm really glad I did it.  Here's what I learned from them:
  • Not one brand is the highest rated for all 3 major appliances (stove, fridge, dishwasher).  So if you are looking to get the appliance in each category that performed the best you will have 3 different brands in your kitchen.
  • The rating differences between the major brands were not all that significant as long as you stayed with the top 3-5 rated models.  
  • Every appliance has its lovers and its haters.  Consumer Reports includes actual user reviews along with their test results and without fail for every person that really liked a particular model someone else listed a bunch of faults.
  • They have this really neat button called price & shop that gives you prices, shipping costs, etc from stores that carry the particular item you were just viewing.  This is actually how I found the vendor I purchased my appliances from.  It was great to be able to see that I was getting the best prices available.
Screen Shot from consumerreports.org


In the end, I bought 3 GE stainless steel appliances from Abt here in Chicagoland.  Not only did they have the best prices but they were highly rated as a seller and were local.  


As a group the fridge, range, and microwave all performed well (not the top but not the bottom either) in the Consumer Reports tests and price wise I could afford to get all 3 appliances I wanted instead of just 1 in another brand.  I purposely bought all 3 from the same manufacturer because I was concerned about the tone of the stainless not matching from appliance to appliance.  My range, fridge and microwave are all located on the same wall so it would be obvious if the color was even slightly different. 


I decided to forgo getting the matching dishwasher as ours is a brand new Bosch put in by the former homeowners, and it is the quietest best dishwasher we've ever had.  It is white, but I am going to try to paint it stainless steel to match the new appliances and if that doesn't work I'll paint it to match the cabinets.  Plus the front is smooth and blank so it won't be obvious that it isn't GE like the other appliances.


One Last Tip:  I found that it was cheaper to hire a local handyman install the appliances rather than the dealer.  Much cheaper.  


Normally, I would show you the pictures of these all installed in my kitchen, but of course the stove is on backorder:).  Must mean I picked a good one, right?


~Gold Shoe Girl~


Here's where I linked up...


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