One of the most difficult decisions when designing a kitchen is appliance selection. There are tons of options, so many reputable brands to choose from, and a multitude of functions to consider. I figured I’d share some insight on how to choose appliances that fit your budget, because that’s always my starting point… the budget. After narrowing options by price, I look at the aesthetic, efficiency, and function. Click through for my tips and to see which appliances we’ll be using in our current kitchen reno! There is a LOT of good information packed into this post- hopefully it’s helpful for those of you planning to upgrade your appliances or renovate your kitchen in the future. I also hit on which appliance “trends” are here to stay and which ones you should avoid!
*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!
I’ve designed plenty of client kitchens and this will mark our third personal kitchen renovation. We’ve transformed spaces on a variety of budgets. It’s safe to say I have experience under my belt, but appliance selection can be a little nerve racking because it’s a big expense for items you’ll use on a daily basis for years to come. I wanted to make the process less intimidating and arm you with knowledge to make informed decisions. Let’s get to it!
First up, let’s talk dollars. This should be your starting point when searching for appliances. If you’re planning to replace all of your appliances, give yourself a total to stay within. You can then determine how to divvy that up and decide if one appliance means more to you than another. For example, this time around our microwave will be hidden in an appliance garage / pantry. Although I will consider an efficient & functional microwave, the look of it is not as important since it will be hidden. I’d rather spend less there and splurge on a range or fridge.
Our first kitchen was very budget friendly and I bought all-white appliances from Lowe’s of varying brands. Since I couldn’t afford flashy appliances for this space, I wanted to get nice models that blended in with the surrounding Kraftmaid cabinetry. I kept it clean, crisp, simple, and white to give the space a modern and cohesive look. I know white appliances aren’t for everyone, but in this scenario it really worked well. If you want sources for that space (pictured above), here they are: Samsung Refrigerator // Whirlpool Range // GE Dishwasher // Frigidaire Microwave (in white, obviously).
A year or two later, my best friends asked me to help design their budget-friendly kitchen (shown above) and we opted for classic, stainless steel appliances from their preferred brand, Whirlpool. While we’re on the budget topic, I figured it might be helpful to share the appliances I’d choose today if I were on a tight budget. I’d go with the following…
AESTHETIC & FUNCTION
For our second kitchen, I tried some new things in terms of aesthetic and function… I opted for an induction cooktop and purchased a wall mounted oven with an attached microwave (it basically looked like a built-in double oven). I also bought our first panel-ready appliance- a dishwasher. I had a mid-range budget to work with and I tried to keep things looking cohesive, a little industrial, and higher-end for this one.
When determining the aesthetic, keep the architecture and size of your home in mind. The appliances should mimic your home’s style and the scale should feel in proportion to the kitchen and the overall square footage of the home. It wouldn’t make sense to install a small apartment-sized fridge in a 3,000+ square foot home, make sense?
I’d also recommend considering function and how your family uses appliances. If you’re a foodie who cooks every single night, you might love having a professional range. If you have a large family and buy groceries in bulk, a larger fridge might make sense. How about water? Is easy access to purified water for filling bottles important to you? A water dispenser might be a big selling point. Do you entertain often? You’ll definitely want an ice maker in your fridge. Think about your needs and daily life because appliances can really help streamline your everyday life if you choose wisely.
This was also the first time I stepped outside my “finish comfort zone”, and I’m so happy I did! I’m still loving black stainless and don’t anticipate that trend to be going anywhere anytime soon. I also feel like the upkeep and cleaning is much easier than regular stainless. I hardly ever noticed fingerprints (or dog licks).
Let’s chat trends! I’ve noticed more panel-ready appliances that are being built into cabinetry, as well as larger ranges. I’ve been seeing a ton of large professional-style ranges, like this one. Have you also noticed gas ranges becoming more decorative or furniture-like? While the average home doesn’t need (or can even sustain) a giant range of that scale, they’re certainly a beautiful focal point in the kitchen. If you have the square footage and architecture, I say go for it! I don’t think a pro range will ever go out of style. On the contrary (like all trends), just because we’re seeing lots of those right now… doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your kitchen.
In regards to panel-ready appliances, I vote yes to those too! Can you spy my dishwasher in the image above? I’ll compare NON panel-ready appliances to leaving things out on the countertop… it can be distracting, right? Appliances mixed amongst cabinets definitely stand out and provide higher contrast. Sometimes this is good, but if you prefer a calm, monochromatic environment, panel-ready appliances would be a great, clean option for you!
OUR CURRENT KITCHEN
That brings me to our current kitchen… the only appliance you’ll notice in the reveal post next month will be our 36″ gas range. The fridge and dishwasher will be panel ready and will hopefully look pretty seamless with the cabinetry, and the microwave will be hidden inside the pantry. This time around we had a larger budget to play with and wanted the appliances to fit the scale of our home, and feel more customized. However, unlike our other two homes, we saved a LOT of money keeping the appliances in the same location and using the same electrical & plumbing footprint. That’s how we were able to add more to our actual appliance budget. That’s a good tip if you’re trying to squeeze more money out of the budget!
01: GE Profile Built-In Dishwasher (Panel Ready) // 02: GE Profile Countertop Microwave // 03: KitchenAid Built-in Side-by-Side Refrigerator (Panel Ready) // 04: Cafe 6-Burner Self-Cleaning Convection Freestanding Gas Range
As a reminder, I’m dropping an image of our cabinet door style & color below. I really can’t wait to see these panel-ready appliances installed! Emmett is a fridge guy and I always let him choose the refrigerator (of course I approve the design), but he has selected them for every single renovation… and I will say- he’s VERY stoked about this big KitchenAid one. We spent months pinching our pennies for that thing and waited for a promo. Lowe’s even price-matched it for us to save more money.
Sometimes interior “rules” were meant to be broken, but most often I find they’re actually helpful to hone in your parameters, making selections easier. In my opinion, the best way to share the appliance do’s and don’ts is with a Q&A:
What does “panel-ready” mean and is that a trend that will fade?
Panel-ready is an appliance that comes unfinished and allows a custom cabinetry piece to be mounted on the front so it looks integrated or built into the cabinetry. I don’t see that trend going anywhere… it has been around for over a decade and popularity is only continuing to increase. Custom looking millwork (cabinetry included) will always be a beautiful, timeless option. My prediction is that we’ll begin seeing the price on panel-ready appliances lower as they become more & more popular. Check out an example of my previous Bosch dishwasher below:
What is your favorite appliance finish?
That’s a tricky question! I think the appliance finish totally depends on the kitchen in which they’re being installed. I suppose my personal favorite would be stainless or black stainless.
Do all of the appliances in a kitchen need to match (brand, finish, etc)?
Finish, yes… brand, no! In our Ohio kitchen renovation (pictured below), every single appliance was a different brand. I did make sure all of the glossy white finishes matched though. I’d rather choose an appliance based on function, price, and aesthetic rather than brand loyalty, which is why I have no problem mixing products from different manufacturers.
Which appliance would you splurge on?
That’s a personal preference. For Emmett and I, we’d say the refrigerator! I’d say a close second would be the range. Either of those are splurge-worthy.
Are there appliance trends to avoid, and what options feel the most timeless?
I’d stay away from textured appliances. Remember our temporary kitchen setup in the basement I shared last week? That fridge is textural and it looks cheap. We’ll definitely replace it someday. I’d also be careful when it comes to color. I’m seeing more color options for gas ranges and I think a lot of them will become dated more quickly. Just be sure to choose a classic color if you like that look! In terms of timeless options, you can never go wrong with stainless… and look for a simple shape that will withstand the test of time. My biggest piece of advice? Above all trends- consider budget & function. What works for your family is more important than that shiny new, colored range that may or may not go out-of-style in 5 years.
Whew! I know that was a LOT of info, but I hope it helps you make informed decisions once you’re ready to upgrade your appliances. Memorial Day is just around the corner and I bet there are going to be some good sales! I’ll share once I start seeing them. Questions? Comments? You know I love hearing them in the comments below!