What I Do (and Don’t) Love About My Kitchen Appliances

posted by Andrea | 04/16/2015
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kitchen appliances

First of all, I must start this post by saying that Dave and I are so happy with ALL our kitchen appliances, as well as everything that went into our massive 2012 kitchen renovation.

Our new kitchen is 1000 times better than it was when we first moved in — so much more storage space, counter space, refrigerator space, eating space, etc. etc. Plus it’s perfect for our house and our family, it’s exactly my style, and I thoroughly enjoy cooking in it every day.

We are SO happy and content with our new kitchen and have no plans on changing anything in the near future.

That said, I get a bazillion emails and questions about our kitchen appliances — usually from people who are in the beginning stages of a kitchen renovation and looking for advice from someone who has “been there, done that”.

So while I will mostly be sharing all the things we love about our various appliances… I will also be sharing a few things we might have tweaked if we were doing it again. However, I definitely don’t want any part of this post to come off as complaining or like we are unhappy or dissatisfied.

We’re not! I promise!

I’m just trying to be as honest as I can for those of you who might be in the market for new appliances 🙂

Our Refrigerator:

We purchased a GE Cafe French-door refrigerator with a bottom pullout freezer from a local scratch and dent store… we are STILL looking for the scratch and/or dent 🙂

At first, I wanted to purchase a counter-depth fridge because they take up less space, but when I realized they were literally twice the price for LESS storage space, I quickly changed my mind!

I’m so glad I didn’t go for the counter depth… especially since every refrigerator we’ve ever had has been really small. So that fact that this refrigerator is over 25 cubic ft is pretty exciting for me.

I was also a little worried about the pull-out freezer since I never had one of those before, but we love that too. It has 2 separate pull out “bins” and a bunch of different organizing compartments, so it’s really easy to find whatever we want.

PROS:

  • It’s huge — literally one of the biggest “normal” refrigerators we could get without custom ordering something crazy expensive
  • Everything in the fridge is eye-level — this is SOOOO nice
  • The kids can’t get into the fridge when I open it up to quickly grab something
  • Since there are 2 doors, they don’t swing out as far, meaning the door doesn’t take up as much space
  • It has water and ice in the door — I know some people don’t like this, but it was a “must have” for us and we use it many, many times every day
  • There is a “lock” for the water and ice button so kids can’t make a mess pushing buttons they shouldn’t be pushing!
  • It has customizable storage — the shelves are easily movable to accommodate different foods, plus other shelves that fold “down” or push back for tall items.
  • It has a HUGE amount of drawer space — the bottom drawer is the entire width of the fridge and has a movable divider that can be removed to store large platters or cakes or casserole dishes
  • It has an quick-cool option — this is great for when you get home from the grocery store, load up the fridge with “warm” food and have the doors open for a while. You can use the quick-cook feature to quickly cool it back down again.
  • It’s so bright — this is a weird one, but there are literally 8-10 lights on the inside of the fridge so EVERYTHING is super bright and easy to find whatever I’m looking for.
  • The freezer drawer is very easy to pull out and the extra top tray makes keeping things organized very easy
  • The ice maker is in the refrigerator door so it doesn’t take up any room in the freezer

CONS:

  • Sometimes I open the wrong door and then need to open the other door (totally not a big deal though!)
  • Since the ice maker is in the door of the refrigerator (making more room for freezer stuff) there are only storage compartments on one door
  • The freezer is a tiny bit harder to access because it’s not at eye-level — but we use the refrigerator more so we’d rather have that at eye level
  • A freezer drawer probably makes it a little bit more difficult to see everything, but we really don’t keep much in our freezer (since we have a deep freezer downstairs) so this isn’t an issue for us.

All in all, we LOVE our refrigerator and would NEVER want to go back to a side-by-side or a top mounted freezer.

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Oven / Range:

We purchased the GE Cafe Duel-Fuel Range with Baking Drawer, also from a scratch and dent store — and we’re still looking for the scratch on this one too!

When we were designing our kitchen, I was dead-set on having a double electric wall oven with a 5 or 6-burner gas cooktop. However, due to the fact that we ended up totally opening the kitchen and dining room area to the living room (by knocking out yet another wall) we no longer had the wall space for a double wall oven.

This meant I had to change my plans a bit — but when I stumbled across this unit, I was “sold”.

Not only is it a HUGE oven with 3 racks, it also has a separate bottom baking drawer, convection oven settings, and it’s a “dual fuel” which means both ovens are electric and the cooktop is gas (exactly what I wanted)!

PROS:

  • It’s an electric oven which means more even baking + a gas cooktop for faster boiling and more heat control
  • The stove top is AMAZING for canning
  • The grates on the stove top are cast iron and really solid. They are also “continuous” which means the whole top is flush and it’s really easy to slide pots and pans around to different burners
  • The center burner is replaceable with a griddle — which we love
  • The front right burner is a power-boil burner with 20,000 BTU’s (normal burners are 8,000 BTU’s) so it can often boil water in about 60-90 seconds
  • It’s a “low profile” model, which means the controls are on the front versus the back and it fits more seamlessly with our counter tops for a more built-in look
  • The oven is massive and cooks so evenly. The convection feature is also fabulous for all the times I’m baking multiple goodies at the same time (it circulates the air evenly so everything cooks evenly instead of hot spots at the top and bottom

CONS:

  • The baking drawer definitely isn’t a “second oven”. Yes, it can get up to 450º but it takes a pretty long time to heat up and really doesn’t “cook anything” all that fast. It’s more of a glorified warming drawer that can bake and cook if necessary. However my oven is so large that I haven’t really needed it for more than a warming drawer.
  • Since the controls are on the front, kids can reach them. This hasn’t been a huge issue because I’m always close by… but we have had many times when Simon or Nora inadvertently turn the oven off while I’m in the middle of cooking something.
  • The griddle has a recessed area all the way around (to catch the grease) but its so skinny that it’s pretty hard to clean out.

In summary, we are extremely happy with our oven and range and really feel like it’s the perfect fit for our kitchen. Yes, a full double oven would have been nice — but we definitely enjoy having our kitchen more open to the living area — it’s been a pretty good trade-off!

The Exhaust Fan:

As MANY of you have already noticed (and asked me a bazillion times why) we do not have an exhaust fan above our stove 🙂

I have no great reason for it except that I don’t really like the looks of them and I didn’t feel like it was fully necessary in our kitchen.

There is a chance we’ll get one some day (we have all the electrical in place in case we change our mind) but for now, we’ve been managing just fine without one!

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The Dishwasher:

Our dishwasher is a “paneled” dishwasher — which means it looks just like the rest of our cabinets. Can you see it hiding in our island?

We purchased a Jenn-Air dishwasher because it was literally the ONLY paneled dishwasher at our scratch and dent store. There was definitely a big scratch and a couple small dents on the front of this dishwasher — but since we were putting a cabinet panel over the front, it didn’t matter to us at all!

I REALLY love this dishwasher!

PROS:

  • It’s all stainless steel inside
  • It has a bunch of customizable options to fit different size dishes
  • The control buttons are all on top so you don’t see them when the door is pushed all the way in
  • It has a massive silverware caddy — which is perfect for us because we go through SO much silverware
  • It has a quick cycle that takes less than an hour and gets the dishes sparkling clean
  • It has a top-rack-only cycle that is great for when you just need to wash a few things
  • It’s so quiet you almost can’t hear it running
  • It’s the same size as a standard dishwasher… but because of the different ways to customize the inside, I truly believe we can fit more dishes in our dishwasher

CONS:

  • The ONLY thing I can think of that we don’t absolutely love about this dishwasher is the fact that the cabinet panel on the door makes the door heavier so it makes a “creaky” noise when it opens. We regularly put WD-40 on it, but the creaky sound always comes back eventually.

We use our dishwasher daily and definitely wouldn’t want to live without one… I’m SO happy we found a discounted paneled dishwasher that worked for our kitchen!

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Microwave:

We have a teeny-tiny 700-Watt Sunbeam microwave — but we specifically wanted a tiny microwave so it would fit inside our pantry cabinet.

microwave

PROS:

  • It’s hidden
  • It’s still very easily accessible
  • It fits perfectly inside our pantry cabinet — almost like we planned it that way 🙂
  • It’s low enough that Nora will be able to reach it in another year or two and reheat food herself
  • It was SUPER cheap ($45 from Target) so if/when we need to replace it, it won’t break our budget!

CONS:

  • It’s small and low wattage — this is basically the only downside but definitely a worthy trade off for us!

I personally love having the microwave hidden and out of the way. I know it wouldn’t make sense for every kitchen, but considering we specifically designed our kitchen to have a hidden microwave, we are thrilled with the results.

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The Deep Freezer

About 6 months after moving into this house (and after 6 months of searching Craigslist for a used deep freezer) we went ahead and purchased a brand new 14.4 cubic foot, Frigidaire MANUAL defrost freezer.

deep freezer

PROS:

  • We have tons of extra freezer storage space.
  • It’s a manual defrost freezer (which is half negative — see below) but it also means that our food stays much fresher for longer than it would in our freezer in our kitchen.
  • It’s an upright which means it’s easier to organize and see what we have inside.

CONS:

  • It’s a little smaller than we would have ideally liked, but it’s the largest size that would fit down our basement stairs.
  • It’s a manual defrost (which means we need to defrost it every 2 years). However, we specifically chose a manual defrost as it keeps food fresher longer.

We are very thankful for all the extra storage space our deep freezer gives us — as well as thankful for the amazing delivery men who managed to SQUEEZE the freezer down our narrow basement stairs 🙂

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So there you have it — the ins and outs of what we do and don’t love about all our kitchen appliances.

What are your favorite (or least favorite) features of your kitchen appliances?

kitchen appliances

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25 comments

  1. Denise

    10/06/2016

    Great stuff andrea, how much money did you save buying appliances from a scratch and dent store?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I really have no idea because we didn’t price out the full-price models. I’m guessing we saved almost 50% though!

    [Reply]

  2. Abby

    02/06/2016

    Andrea,

    What do you use to keep your stainless steel looking so nice? We recently renovated and upgraded to stainless, but I have yet to find a product that leaves the appliances streak-free. Any advice appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Abby,
    Here’s a post I did with 3 DIY Stainless Steel Cleaners (http://andreadekker.com/diy-stainless-steal-cleaner/)

    Also, I’m guessing that if you really got up close to our appliances, you would see little handprints and streaks all over them 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Heart and Haven

    04/17/2015

    – I have a counter-depth pantry fridge with bottom freezer and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! We have a small kitchen though, so the count-depth really improved the aesthetics of the kitchen. The design for our model allowed for more inside cubic square feet than many standard fridges of similar size (height & width). My favorite features are the LED lights (sooo sparkly inside!), door ice/water with slim door design so doesn’t take up much fridge space at all.
    – Our stove/oven has gas range and either gas or convection oven. Love the convection feature! Cooks more evenly, quicker at a lower temp (so saves $$ too).
    We got the 5 burner model, which we don’t use the middle burner as much as I thought we would.
    – Our built-in hood/microwave is also convection. I absolutely LOVE that I can cook casseroles, in the summer time especially, without having to heat the entire house up.
    – I love how quiet our dishwasher is – can’t even tell when it’s running!
    However, we’ve already had it serviced twice and had to order replacement parts from the manufacturer and it’s less than 2 years old! In comparison to the dishwasher I installed in my first house, which is now one of our rental properties, 16 years ago with no problems…..so yeah the “they don’t make them like they used to” is definitely true.

    [Reply]

  4. Linda Bolt

    04/16/2015

    This was interesting. I’m curious about how you need to defrost your deep freezer only every 2 years? I have to do mine at least once a year, and twice would probably be better. Doesn’t it get frost build-up? Or maybe this is because mine is old.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, it might be because yours is old — or maybe you open the door a lot more than we do?

    I’m not a fan of doing anything more than I have to… and after 1 year, our freezer never seems that bad so I’ve always just waited 2 years to defrost it.

    [Reply]

  5. Karri Hubach

    04/16/2015

    Hi,
    I’m from your area and curious what scratch and dent store you use. We are looking for a new dishwasher.
    Thanks
    Karri

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    we use Elders Appliance

    [Reply]

  6. Julia K

    04/16/2015

    We moved into this house 12 years ago and my then 12 yr old son was starting that teenage thing where they EAT YOU OUT OF HOUSE AND HOME. We were not in a position to remodel the kitchen but the fridge/freezer needed updating. I decided to put an “all fridge” in the kitchen and a chest freezer in the laundry room (which is just around the corner from our kitchen). This gave us the much needed extra fridge space and the chest freezer of course is a boon.

    I generally use our freezer only once or twice a day – getting food out to defrost for tomorrow’s dinner and then in the evenings to grab ice-cream. Sure it would be great to have a small freezer combined with the fridge, but the trade-off for the extra fridge space was well worth it.

    I also think upright freezers are great from the point of view of being able to see everything at a glance. There was a trade-off here too though. Our clothes dryer is wall mounted above the freezer and when the chest freezer is closed – it effectively gives me more counter space in the laundry room to sort clothes from the dryer. The freezer came with one basket inside, but I purchased an extra three baskets and use these to containerize different types of foods. I have one for Meat & Fish, one for Vegetables & Sides, one for Desserts & Baked Goods and one for Ready Meals. Another disadvantage of the chest freezer is that I am a shorty (only 4′ 10″ tall) so getting items from the bottom of the freezer can be a bit of a stretch (especially difficult those times when I was pregnant).

    Your comments on dishwashers are very important. When we lived in Sydney I had a SMEG dishwasher which was fantastic. This house didn’t have a dishwasher when we moved in so I purchased an LG dishwasher. It is not nearly as good as the SMEG and doesn’t take nearly the amount of dishes.

    [Reply]

  7. Mary

    04/16/2015

    Can you share the name of the scratch and dent store you shopped at? Honestly did not know there was such a thing!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’d just google “scratch and dent appliances stores” in whatever area you are in.
    We used Elders appliance — but it’s just local, so if you don’t live in West Michigan, that won’t be much help for you 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Liane

    04/16/2015

    My GE Profile has front controls and has a lock out feature. Not too hard for a clever child to defeat but can stop a toddler. I’ve accidentally turned it off myself wiping off a spill or splatter.

    My dishwasher, microwave oven and washer all have locking controls. I don’t have toddlers but I have been know to accidentally turn on or off the stove or washer. Washer by leaning on it.
    So if yours has that feature it may help in more ways than one!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, our appliances have “locks” too — but we can’t use them when they are locked. So I can’t have the oven ON and then lock it — or it will turn off. So when the oven is on, Simon constantly presses the button to turn it off again… boo 🙂

    [Reply]

    Liane Reply:

    Oh well at least you can lock it when it is off! That way he cannot turn it on when you don’t want it on. I do wish that the lock control would only lock the oven and not the oven plus the burners. It does come in handy for cleaning the glass control panel.

    [Reply]

  9. lydia @ frugaldebtfreelife

    04/16/2015

    Question. Do you have problems with your french door fridge suctioning shut? Ours does that and I have to open the opposite door to get the door I need to reopen. That is the ultimate first world problem isn’t it?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No Lydia, I can honestly say I’ve never had that problem. Sorry 🙂

    And yes, very ‘first world problems’ here!!

    [Reply]

  10. ShellyL

    04/16/2015

    That is the exact refrigerator that I want. I enjoyed reading your pros and cons. I am concerned about the freezer on the bottom being hard to organize. But my real question is about your gas range. I’ve my glass top range gets a lot of crumbs and sticky spills. It seems like I am always cleaning it. I don’t see how you would clean this but, obviously, it is clean so there must be a way. 😉 Thanks for all the good advice.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    we LOVE the fridge!

    As for the freezer, I really dont’ keep much in it. We store most of our freezer items in the downstairs freezer… so if this freezer is going to be your main/only freezer, it might be a little trickier. However, I’d still say that the trade-off for having all the refrigerator goods at eye level is worth it!

    [Reply]

  11. Jane

    04/16/2015

    Well…..when we did our remodel 9 years ago, we bought all new appliances. Within a year, almost all of them had a problem!

    Our Maytag fridge broke on the first day. Lowe’s replaced it. It has the freezer on the bottom, which I find a bit hard to organize. I’m trying small bins to help corral similar items.

    Our Kenmore gas stove has been good, but the black finish is hard to keep clean. I have an especially hard time keeping the top area clean.

    Our KitchenAid dishwasher had to have the pump assembly replaced twice – within the first 6 months – we had to pay for the labor and it was not cheap!

    My GE washing machine – front loader – chewed up my clothes. I had a service man out twice and they filed away a burr, gave me my money back for my clothes. The front loader does save a lot of money on water. However, I have had stinky towel syndrome and it’s awful. It does not clean as well as a top loader that really soaks items. I wish there was a way to fill the unit with more water. I have moved toward using more white towels because then I can bleach them and there is not a problem. With dark towels, I have to try to let them dry out before putting in my laundry. I then wash on hot, extra long cycle and add a vinegar rinse.

    So there you have it, my sad appliance saga. I hate the fact that my new appliances have not performed and/or lasted as well as my previous ones (22+ years!). I hate the fact that major appliances are manufactured so poorly. I hate shopping for them. Even when we went with trusted brands and higher end items (kitchenaid) we were disappointed. So I’m glad to read your pros and cons. When we have to shop again I will keep them in mind!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    BOOOOO… that stinks! I have heard that they literally “don’t make appliances like they used to”. Like, they actually use cheaper and less durable materials now so they don’t last nearly as long.

    Kind of crappy, but I feel like everything these days is less quality than it was years ago 🙁

    [Reply]

    Liane Reply:

    My $2000 Sears Kenmore front loader made by Bosch also chews up clothes, particularly the selvedge edge of my towels. And I have stinky towel syndrom and they take eons to dry. If this one dies I am going back to a top loader. I have had this for 5 years and I have recently looked at my water usage online and see no real difference.

    My GE Profile Refrigerator was bought in 1988. Still works. Shhhhhh!

    My GE Profile over the range microwave has failed twice since 2005.

    My GE Profile range has a slanted glass panel which allows spills to get between it and the painted panel underneath and it looks dirty all the time and the inside of the oven paint has worn off from pulling the racks out to remove food.

    DH says if I did not abuse these appliances by actually using them as they were intended that they would all look perfect LOL..

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    I had a problem with my towels smelling really bad after a while. I would have to use the sanitize option every time, but it takes more water and a lot more time. I used vinegar but felt like that didn’t even help very much. About a year ago I started putting a scoop of OxiClean in with every load of towels, and I haven’t had a problem since. I use the same settings and temperatures, but now my towels smell great. Maybe that will help!

    [Reply]

    Brenda Reply:

    I’m so sorry about all of your appliance woes. 🙁 Just a thought on the towels: when my towels are getting stinky, it often means I’ve been using too much soap. Sometimes I don’t add soap to a load of towels, figuring that any soap left in my kitchen dish clothes will be enough. Soap is soap, after all. 🙂 It has helped keep the stink to a minimum.

    [Reply]

    Liane Reply:

    Initially I purchased dark towels – usually at TJMAXX or Ross so I could get the fancy ones at a Walmart price, and they all said wash in cold water. I think that was the problem. So I started washing them with hot water and that worked much better.

    I never ever mix bath towels with kitchen towels. I have a basket by the washer that I toss all my kitchen towels in – they are all white, and I keep them that way with Clorox on the sanitary cycle. Just this past weekend I had a friend spill red wine on white carpet – sopped it up best as I could and then used Wine Away and Folex on the remainder – those towels sat for four days in a white trash bag and using Tide and Clorox on the sanitary cycle they look like new. Wish I could say the same for my carpet. My friends kindly set up an appt with Chem Dry. I accepted since I use them anyway. And know that they charge an arm and a leg.

    As for the dark towels I just decided that Donna Karan and that other designer guy are living on cloud nine and now that I use hot and dry on hot they don’t stink at all. I do use oxy drop ins for white clothing like socks and tees. The towels did not appreciate the spin cycle on high and the edges are fraying and the fancy banding near the ends shrunk so they are no longer rectangular but hey, shaped wierd beats smelly!

    [Reply]