Appliance Overload

With our house progressing, we’re frantically trying to finalize things like appliances and finishing details because we know we’re not going to have time to do so once we’re in the middle of insulating, drywalling, and all that fun stuff. I’ve been scouring Craigslist looking for a good deal, but we haven’t really settled on what we’re looking for yet, so that’s making things a little difficult.
I’m feeling a huge amount of pressure to go along with the current trend toward high end stainless steel appliances, and while I do like the look of them , I don’t love the inflated price (or their tendency to attract fingerprints). I don’t really mind the look of nice white appliances, including coil elements, which seem to be on their way to extinction. In fact, my dream would be to get a set of refurbished antique appliances (I adore the look of fridges and stoves from the 1940’s and 50’s), with their white enamel and shiny chrome accents, but the price is prohibitive. I’ve looked at getting originals that haven’t yet been updated, and while that is technically recycling, their high energy requirement is a turnoff. We’re going for a “modern farmhouse” look for out kitchen (wood floors, beadboard, and other vintage touches), so I think good quality white appliances would look fine, especially if we throw in a few stainless touches elsewhere (knobs, faucets, etc.).
Clearly I need some help solving my dilemma, and I’m hoping that some of you might take the time to weigh in with your opinion on this matter. What do you prefer? White or stainless? Coil or ceramic cooktop (gas isn’t an option)? Convection or not? Bottom or top mount refrigerator? Is there a particular brand that you swear by (or swear off)? Why?
Please help!

22 thoughts on “Appliance Overload”

  • I’ll come out of lurkdome to give my opinion, since I’m constantly dreaming of redoing our kitchen. White. The extra price for stainless isn’t worth it unless it’s “for show” (i.e. resale)We’re doing black to get a more “modern” look as things break. Ceramic cooktop (my sister has one and it’s GREAT for cleaning up), my favorite fridge was a side by side with the ice/water in the door. Loved how easy it was to organize stuff, and I do miss my ice and water in the door (I know it’s so hard to get ice out of a trey ;-)).Wish we’d taken it with us when we moved.

  • Here is what my husband says, go with what your heart desires. You can get a vintage stove, etc. at a junk yard and plenty of places still sale the parts, the trick is to do the foot work yourself, you scour the junkyards, and appliance stores and online. Then have an electrian come an install it for you thus retro fittin it to make it energy efficiant.

  • Oh, to start from scratch instead of fixing things….

    We redid our kitchen last summer. My kitchen is french country-ish. I really wanted a two-oven freestanding gas stove, and Jenn-Air makes one, white with brushed stainless trim. It matches well with the faucet. Other than that, I don’t have any stainless. I love the clean look of white appliances, and white enamel sink. Stainless looks too industrial to me.

    We still have our old beige fridge, and someday I’ll get to replace it. It just seemed a waste to get rid of it when it’s not that old.

  • I’m new to your blog (referred from a friend, and I’m really looking forward to making those graham crackers!), but I’ll weigh in…

    I like the look of stainless too, but we recently got new appliances and opted for white because of the cost and the fact that white will really never go out of style (but stainless I’m sure will).

    Unlike Beth, I have never liked a side by side because I feel like I never got as much storage space out of it. (How do you get a pizza in a fridge that narrow?) I was really eyeing those refrigerators that open up like a french door with the freezer on bottom… but again, a lot more costly.

    We have been through several houses in the last few years and have done a kitchen remodel in all of them. We have always put in Kenmores and have been very happy with them. A few times a year at Sears (in the US, I assume it’s the same in Canada) they have a 20% off sale.

    Oh, and I second Beth’s suggestion for a ceramic cooktop. Now that I have one, I’m never going back (unless we’re in a house with gas instead of electric)! So much easier to clean, and I like the look.

  • We just bought and are fixing up an old farmhouse (built 1865) and appreciate your dilemma. We went with the most economical/basic Energystar stainless appliances we could find (GE is considered the best deal and most reliable by the professionals in this area) and chose a regular gas stove over a glass top because of warnings not to use pressure/steam canning equipment on glass top stoves (possible cracking due to high heat). Aiming for Energystar appliances helped us deal with all the possibilities. Best of luck!

  • Stepping out of lurkdom (hopefully for good)… because I wanted to share some feelings on the fridge dilemma. We switched to a freezer-on-the-bottom model when we moved into our first house, and I’d NEVER go back. That said, we went with a model that has a door with pull out wire shelves/drawers. MUCH better than the models with one pull-out drawer.

    You’re getting good feedback here. No matter what you decide, have a good time… and enjoy this opportunity to build what you truly want!

  • We did the stainless side by side… and keeping it nice looking was work. When we replaced it I swore no stainless (I would consider faux stainless, which my sister has and it is great) but ended up with stainless again for various reasons. Now I regret it!

    The constant cleaning of finger prints, water drips from the water/ice dispenser, etc is daily work (and I am not a clean freak either.) And trying to find a cleaning product that works well and doesn’t streak is almost impossible… and the impact on the environment kills me: constant cleaning with paper towels and stainless steel cleaner. I constantly imagine the landfill piling up with my chemically ladened paper towels (cloth cleaners just didn’t work as well… and required constant washing so still environmentally unfriendly.)

    I say take the time and look for the vintage enamels … very nice looking, durable, easy to keep clean.

  • Be sure to double check that you can use a pressure canner on whatever type of stovetop you decide to get. Some of them (I think it may be the ceramic top ones) advise you NOT to use a pressure canner on it.

    Personally, I’d go for the cheapest Energy Star models I can get.

    Fridges with the bottom freezer aren’t as energy efficient as a top mount freezer. I personally dislike side-by-side fridges. An white is fine in my books. It will never give you a dated look.

  • We have a ceramic cooktop that we hate! It is hard to clean and cooks very unevenly. We are going back to a gas range when we can. I wouldn’t pay the extra for stainless and you get more freezer space in a top/bottom fridge.

  • I’d go white. Vintage is beautiful, but as you said not so energy efficient. Plus I’m guessing expensive and time consuming to repair if it breaks down. There are some nice white appliances out there now with just a hint of the old style. Plus white always looks clean and fresh and timeless.

    I’d second (or third?) the recommendation for the freezer on the bottom. And if you can justify the price I love the armoire style fridges for the extra easy access. We’ve had very good luck with both Whirlpool and Kenmore (same stuff, but Sears brand).

    Enjoy picking out the finishes – they’re the best part of any house project!

  • I am for white too.I would like to say you so much but I have not the english words for it.But I am sure you do a great work!I am already curious to see more pictures!

  • I like convection. I cook with it a lot and find I can lower the temperature and things cook faster, so I think I’m saving energy there. I like ceramic tops on stoves only because they are easier to clean…other than that, I never minded the coils. I do think white looks nice, black too so I’m probably no help there.

  • This has been so interesting. We are in the process of purchasing a home and will need to get appliances. So I appreciate your question, Cheryl, plus all the answers. I’ve wondered about those ceramic tops, but am happy to know not to get one because I use a pressure canner.

    When we bought my toaster oven, we got a Euro-Pro which also has a convection oven and rotisserie. I love it! It is stainless steel however, and so difficult to keep clean.

  • When I was a child my mother bought the first model of the glasstop stove but I reached across it one day to grab something and severely burned the entire length of my arm…it’s very difficult to know if the stovetop is turned on. So I always tell people with children not to buy them. And I’m partial to the stainless steel. We just found a very old company called Fisher and Paykel who make the most efficient appliances I’ve found. They’re out of New Zealand and the states have just now begun to carry them. Our fridge is due in next month. They’re more of a European style with less bulkiness to them but ever so streamlined and efficient. I had a side by side that took up too much room and was not user friendly and the new fridge is refrigerator over freezer, which I always had in the past. Also, the water/ice in the door is a nightmare to keep clean. I’d go for a filter on your tap water and not in the fridge. Hope this information helps you in your decisions.

  • Well, I would go for a wood stove. Kidding. I haven’t used a ceramic top, but I have heard that about canning and such so would be leery of that. I loved our side by side fridge. It was a large one, and I found there was lots of storage. We got an all fridge when we moved and I am not so pleased with it. The top shelf only goes so high and if it is stacked to full, it will freeze up in the back. It may be because it is a cheaper model. I will go for side by side with water and ice dispenser when we do our add on kitchen. I have only had electric coil stove. I would definitely go with white. I like the look of stainless too, but I agree white will not go out of style, and will suit and old farm kitchen. Have fun with you choices.

  • My friend bought a high-end ceramic cooktop stove years ago and it has not aged well. She also hates the way it cooks unevenly and is apparently slow to warm up. I share your dislike of stainless steel – not practical and will date. I like white, as you do. I’d go with an energy efficient model that is not too fancy/expensive. I, too, have a freezer-on-the-bottom fridge and it is much more practical, IMO.

  • I vote for white appliances too. We have a tiny kitchenette which is part of the main living area so we covered our appliances with matching cupboard doors so it all looked streamlined. The fridge is above the freezer and is tall and narrow so good for space saving and we have a slimline dishwasher as well which gets full once a day and is economical. You can add the fun vintage stuff as accessories. I cant wait to see photos as the building progresses!

  • Cheryl!
    I am saving for one of those stoves painted soft green! (In about 10 or so years I may own one!)
    Yes—the stainless steel fingerprints and is annoying until you learn to not see it.
    Good luck—white would be my second choice too (after the mint green oldie πŸ˜€


  • I have a ceramic cooktop, and if you cannot have a gas one, this is the way to go. Nobody mentioned this, but the best way to clean it is to wait until the gook has dried, and then take a straight blade (one that can be closed and locked) and scrape all of it off. Then, simply wipe with a cloth. No chemicals or elbow grease necessary! Oh, also, ours has a big bright red light that glows if any of the elements are hot, so as long as the kids know what that means, they should know not to touch the stove.

  • I’m new here but so far been enjoying looking around your blog so will definately be regular visitor.

    I’d say steer clear of anything that’s considered ‘the fashion’ as it’ll soon date; white will always be fine.

    I’m currently redoing my kitchen, bit by bit as energy and financial resources allow, and have gone for a modern take on an old Norwegian farmhouse style. It’s taken its time but I’m enjoying it and that’s what really matters πŸ™‚

    My ex and I once built our own house and did as much as possible ourselves to save money so I know what you’re going through. Hard work, frustrating when things go wrong, but oh so worth it in the end πŸ™‚

    Sharon J

  • Oh, and when it comes to fridges/freezers, I swear by Beko. Even the homecare company supply them to people like myself who need to keep large amounts of medication refrigerated.

I would love to hear from you!

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