CHOOSING KITCHEN APPLIANCES
Freestanding or built-in, colourful or sleek stainless steel? The chances are, you’ll probably already have a wish-list of appliances for your new kitchen. While efficient design and well built-cabinetry make a kitchen fit for purpose, you really can’t perform the functions necessary of a kitchen unless you’ve got the right appliances in place.
With so much to choose from, where do you start? Whether you are starting from scratch or keeping some of your old appliances – often a much-loved range cooker or an America style fridge freezer - then it’s sensible to work out how they’ll fit into the new design first and then go from there. Depending on your needs, it’s a good idea to supplement existing appliances with ones from the same manufacturer or that have a similar look.
Often at the very heart of a new kitchen design, range ovens are a statement choice, with people sometimes deciding on a range even before their cabinetry. Even smaller schemes can benefit from the advantages of a range cooker with brands such as Wolf and Aga producing smaller versions of the standard 90cm model size. Cast-iron models, such as Rayburn and Stanley even have a dual purpose as they can be linked to your central heating to keep not just the kitchen but also the rest of the house toasty warm. With even budget models, including Which? Best Buy winning ranges from Rangemaster, Belling and Stoves costing upwards of £1,000, and cast-iron ranges starting at around £5,000, though, they remain a big investment for any kitchen. Great for introducing a bit of colour, try Rangemaster or Brittannia, ranges also benefit from heaps of oven space, even on the 90cm models, and nifty additions such as as rotisserie. Some, such as the Smeg Symphony 90 also have the addition of pyrolitic cleaning, a boon for any hard-working cook.
If you’re after a sleeker, modern look, then there are plenty of fabulous ovens on the market right now, packed with programmes that will help you cook like the professionals. Single fan ovens, built-in combination microwaves and multi-function models with steam are all popular choices. They’re great for creating attractive banks of appliances in a floor-to-ceiling run of cabinets – using models from the same range and manufacturer so you have continuity of style is best. While double ovens are still popular, sales of single ovens that perform different functions – a multi-function single oven banked with a steam oven for instance – are growing. If you’re a big baker, then opt for models that have specific functions for cakes and bread. It’s best to think carefully about what kind of cook you are before you buy, though, as there’s no point in spending lots of your budget on an oven with all the bells and whistles if you only cook occasionally. In that case, consider buying a bottom of the range multi-function oven from a top brand such as Siemens or Miele, which will give you reliability and a solid build even if you don’t need a pizza stone or built-in recipe function. For those with limited space, then there are a plethora of compact ovens on the market, usually 45cm deep rather than the standard 60cm, and a fan oven and microwave banked together will often cater for most needs.
The size of you room need not limit the number of appliances - consider slim-line models.
A bank of appliances works well in one area of the kitchen to help with ease of cooking ergonomics.
For the technologically savvy, research new models with app control from your mobile phone.
As with your cooking, the kind of cooling you choose will largely depend on the kind of cook you are and how big your family is. A small undercounter fridge and freezer will be fine for a couple who dine out regularly but if you have a big family and like to cook from scratch, you’ll need plenty of fridge space for perishables.
American-style fridge freezers have long been the choice for those looking for lots of storage space – with models in varying sizes and materials available from most manufacturers – but if you want your appliances all to be integrated into your cabinetry, then a larder fridge and larder freezer in a bank either side of your cooking appliances is an excellent alternative. Fridge-freezers with sections with varying levels of humidity, depending on whether you’re storing cheese, meats or veg will help keep food fresher for longer and frost-free is a must to save time. If a 60cm fridge freezer meets your needs for most of the year but is a bit stretched on high days and holidays, then it’s worth considering a three-door model with a drawer that allows you to switch its function from fridge to freezer at the flick of a switch. If you want to add some pizzaz, then retro-style models from Smeg, Gorenje and Swan come in a variety of shades and look fabulous matched with a range in the same colour.
Even though only around 35% of UK homeowners have a dishwasher, they’re definitely on most people’s wish list and are worth trying to fit in if you can. Most people, once they own one, would never go back to washing by hand. The technology moves on at a pace so look for models that have great eco functions, allowing you to wash a full dirty load with as little as 9 litres of water. For built-in machines, lights that reflect on the floor to show how long the wash has to go area a useful addition to prevent you opening it mid-cycle. Plastics, such as Tupperware used to be an issue in dishwashers, coming out wet and water-spotted but many brands are working hard on their drying technology to ensure everything is bone dry at the end of a cycle.
While built-coffee machines might seem a little bit of an indulgence, they do have their uses. Often placed in a bank of appliances to give a level of symmetry, many who opt for one say they can’t believe how much they use it and how much it has saved them in take-away coffee bills! Models vary, but if you’re a real caffeine addict then one that has a bean-to-cup facility – ie it does everything from grind the beans to froth the milk – are a great option, allowing you to choose everything from the kind of grind on your beans to the size of cup and amount of frothed or steamed milk.
Warming drawers are a relative newcomer to the domestic kitchen but their popularity is growing fast. Often available in two or three sizes they are not only great for keeping food warm and proving dough, some models such as those from Miele also act as a sous vide oven, cooking food at really low temperatures for added succulence.
We now drink more wine at home than ever before and as a result sales of wine cooler are booming. Whether you just want a small undercounter model with UV door or an all-singing all-dancing model to hold your precious collection of vintage bottles, there’s one for all tastes – try models from Caple, Miele and Sub-Zero. If you have the room, they look great placed in an island facing the dining area, so guests can help themselves while you’re cooking.