Today kitchens are not just a place to cook meals, they are the heart of the home where family and friends gather for events, kids do their homework, or a place to relax with a cup of coffee and an iPad.
One of the major decisions every homeowner will have to make when renovating their kitchen is which appliances to choose. So we spoke to appliance expert Debbie Schaeffer, who is the owner of Mrs. G TV & Appliances located in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
1. How would you say appliances have changed from when you started in this business to now?
I recently learned we spend an average of 68% of our waking time in the kitchen or adjacent areas from a University of California study. Kitchens have become the new living space with open floor plans. As a result, consumers desire home appliances that are not just efficient with ideal cooking features but also have design features that are appealing. Brands are listening to what the consumer is looking for and creating innovative products with fresh new colors that are worthy of a double take in all price points.
2. What do you think of the new colors available for kitchen appliances, and how have they been received by your customers?
When I started in this business about 20 years ago stainless steel was still in its infancy, black and white remained in the lineup and bisque was dropping significantly in popularity. Bisque is now only available from a few brands and limited models. Today, Stainless Steel is highest in demand, with all brands and price points offering stainless (some even with fingerprint-resistant coatings). It looks like white has started down the road to extinction, following in the footsteps of bisque. Black, however, is evolving to match today’s design trends.
Within the last three years, brands have introduced Black Stainless, which has been well received by consumers. Almost all major brands are offering black stainless—however, mixing and matching brands to complete a suite of appliances can be a challenge because the shades between brands will vary.
Black continues to evolve with the introduction of matte black. At the end of 2017, GE broke into the matte market by launching Black Slate, and in 2018 LG introduced their own matte black appliances. This trend trickled down from the luxury brands like Viking, Blue Star and Kitchen Aid Pro.
In contrast to the dark, modern look of matte black, Whirlpool recently created Sunset Bronze: a warm and welcoming color to provide design options perfect for every kitchen. The rose gold finish is trending over every aspect of our lives in 2018 from iPhones to jewelry, and Whirlpool has taken this opportunity to introduce a new color. The new Whirlpool Sunset Bronze is fingerprint resistant, and seems to morph to match all different shades of wood, counter tops, and tiles. For those consumers who are tired of stainless and want something new and bright, Sunset Bronze is a great alternative.
3. What is the one small appliance you think every home should have, and why?
The one small appliance every home should have is a steam-convection oven. This technology is available as a counter top unit, like the Sharp SSC0586DS, and built-in from brands like Miele, Wolf, Thermador, Sharp, Bosch and Jenn-Air. Steam-convection ovens, often called “combi-steam” ovens, simply use both convection baking and steam to maintain moisture, cook better, and promote healthy living. The combination of super-heated steam and conventional, radiant heat in all cooking modes means that your food will be crispy and browned on the outside, and moist and delicious on the inside.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the steam convection oven will take over the microwave in the future; they even defrost and reheat better. Built-in convection steam ovens still have a robust price tag, but it’s only a matter of time before prices come down.
4. What are some of the unique ways you have seen appliances being incorporated into designs?
Built-in refrigerators with custom panels come in a variety of sizes and have been around for many years, first introduced by Sub-Zero. These have compressors on the top, so even though they are built in and take wood paneling, you can still tell it’s a refrigerator. They also offered integrated models that had compressors on the bottom which offered no visible hinges or grills, making it possible for your refrigeration to be indistinguishable from other cabinets and drawers around it.
Over the past few years, many other brands have begun offering integrated column refrigeration providing design flexibility. Offering a true flush fit with surrounding inset cabinetry, integrated column refrigerators and freezers come in a variety of sizes and drawer units. Today, design trends are hiding refrigerators and dishwashers so that the kitchen truly feels like a living room.
I’m loving the new over-the-range (OTR) microwaves from Whirlpool and KitchenAid. Unsightly, inconvenient and large OTR microwaves of the past are being replaced by sleek, revolutionary models to give consumers more options than ever before. Many OTRs are being designed without handles, such as models from GE and Jenn-Air, to match the sleek look of other handle-less or concealed appliances. There are also more sizes available: Whirlpool recently launched a handsome, low-profile OTR microwave that’s just 10” high (as opposed to 15”-18” height of the average microwave hood). Hidden controls, black glass, and sleek flush designs are making microwaves more of a fashionable piece to accent the rest of your kitchen.
5. What advice do you have pertaining to choosing and buying appliances for someone planning a kitchen remodel?