I’ve never believed that the quality of your cooking has to be dictated by the tools you have. Even in our makeshift renovation kitchen, I made some delicious and elaborate meals. We even often had guests over for dinner in our very cramped and messy garage.
However, it’s been so fun to have access to a brand new set of appliances. Since I got to start from scratch with my appliance choices, I took advantage of the situation and spent a lot of time thinking about how I could make the best choices for my cooking needs.
How to Choose the Right Appliances
I basically had to choose 6 different appliances:
- Range hood
The first thing you have to think about of course is your budget because otherwise, we’d all just pick the top-of-the-line gear but like all things in life, money is usually the primary constraint. There are definitely ways to get more out of your budget, like buying used from Craigslist or purchasing a floor model from a local appliance store. However, because we were under time constraints, I opted to just buy new since we already had a very generous budget of $15,000.
For each appliance, I tried to find as many reviews as I could online (Home Depot, Best Buy and Lowes were incredibly helpful) and used the number of reviews as a gauge for how popular the product was.
Choosing a Dishwasher
The dishwasher decision was the easiest one. We had had a Bosch in the past and thought it was great. It was incredibly quiet and cleaned dishes super well. The drying of plastic Tupperware wasn’t great but I also didn’t want any extra heating of plastic so that wasn’t a huge consideration for me.
I basically just purchased an updated version of our older Bosch dishwasher in stainless steel. Unfortunately, we’re a month in and it’s already malfunctioning. Hopefully the servicing department will take care of all of it and we’ll be back up and running soon. So I guess the lesson is that you can do lots of research and buy something new and of quality and still end up with a lemon!
Choosing a Refrigerator
Choosing the right refrigerator was definitely the hardest appliance decision. There seemed to be so many brands and possible layouts. Samsung, LG, Frigidaire, GE, Kitchenaid? Did we want the freezer on the bottom or the top? Or perhaps a side-by-side model? Or did we like the French door look?
Now some models have a door-in-door layout (like this and this) where the outer door lets you access the items in the door shelves and the inner door opens up to the entire fridge.
It helped to sit down and write down a list of what I wanted:
- An external water and ice dispenser: I’ve never had this in the past and it seemed so fancy (even though it’s a pretty common feature)
- A counter depth fridge: Since we were planning on keeping our old fridge in the garage, I decided we didn’t need the largest fridge. This meant a counter depth option (meaning it wouldn’t jut out too much from where the counters and cabinets ended) would be fine for our needs
- More fridge space and access to fridge space: I tend to shop for the week and go through everything I purchase (I run a meal planning service after all). When I cook, I’m mostly grabbing items from the fridge compartment, so it made sense to have that space most accessible. Plus, we cook for leftovers so more fridge space over freezer space would be nice (and again, we were keeping our old fridge so would be able to freeze things in that freezer compartment).
- A non-smart fridge: I know Silicon Valley is all about smart everything but it just felt like one more thing that could go wrong so I’ll be a later adopter on this one . . .
Based on the list above, I decided on this Samsung model, a 4 door French door layout (see, I told you there are so many layouts to choose from!). There are 2 French doors for the fridge up top and 2 more French doors on the bottom freezer compartment. The freezer compartment is actually split into 2 separate sections. The left is always a freezer and the right section can be set to 4 different temperatures so you can use it as a freezer or more fridge space.
We’ve been using the bottom right as a fridge and it’s where we keep drinks and packed-up leftovers. Now instead of searching through the fridge in the morning, we know we can just open that separate compartment and grab our packed lunch. It’s such a simple little thing but has made life feel a bit more efficient, which always makes me happier.
Choosing a Range
The range was actually a fairly easy decision to make too. I had sort of debated between an induction or a gas* range top but I think I was always leaning towards old-fashioned gas.
There are definitely some downsides with gas though. You add a lot of heat in the air so if you live in a hot place without good AC, be prepared to do a lot of sweating over the stovetop (or consider it extra flavoring). Induction is also much easier to clean. You can just wipe the smooth surface with a damp cloth after cooking versus dealing with all the hardware of a gas range. Lastly, an induction stove is also safer for kids since the surface doesn’t stay hot. I definitely get a bit nervous now with a toddler around the stove, but I realize my children won’t have undeveloped brains forever and it’s a great way to learn about safety.
In the end, even after evaluating these downsides, there’s just something about fire that makes cooking a bit more satisfying so I decided on gas.
After working with such a crappy electric range for so many years – it only had 1 burner that got hot enough to boil water – this was definitely my big splurge appliance. I read reviews comparing 3 of the higher end brands –