Your kitchen fridge isn’t just for keeping things cool anymore!

BRIGHT COLOURS

Forget boring white – one of the biggest trends in fridge design is bright colour. Think fire engine red, cool blue, black and even bold pinstripes.

Hot tip
The trick with bright colour is to use it in small doses – balance a statement fridge with neutral cabinetry in white, grey, black or warm timber.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are Smeg, Bosch, Sharp.

 

METALLIC FINISHES

Stainless steel fridges are hugely popular and it’s easy to see why – they’re easy to co-ordinate with your other appliances and give your kitchen a sophisticated, modern look. But other metallic finishes are gaining momentum too, such as matt and black stainless steel, platinum and pewter. Glass fronted fridge doors in black or white are another emerging trend – the give you a high gloss look that contrasts beautifully against matt cabinetry.

Hot tip

If you’re buying a family fridge, look for one with a stain and finger-print resistant metallic finish.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are LG, Samsung, Bosch, Whirlpool.

 

FLAT LINES

When it comes to design, the latest release fridges are all about simplicity. Super flat lines, seamless detailing and elegant bar handles are common features among all the big players. The absence of fussy detailing makes it easy to integrate even large family-size models into a low-key, open plan kitchen space.

Hot tip
Simple, flat lines mean less cleaning and maintenance.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are Fisher & Paykel, Whirlpool, Liebherr, Electrolux.

 

SMARTER STORAGE

Fridge storage is becoming smarter and more attractive. Check out the latest range of French door fridges at LG, Samsung and Electrolux, which offer easy access to chilled and frozen goods, plus a huge amount of storage space. Some, such as LG’s GR-L219CSL and Electrolux’s EQE6007SB, now come with four doors, giving you two separate freezer drawers for short and long term frozen storage. Inside the fridge section, you’ll find adjustable shelving that allows you to change the internal configuration of your fridge to fit large platters or tall bottles.

Another smart storage solution to look out for is the in-door refreshment hatch, which gives you quick access to everyday items such as juice and water without having to open the fridge door (available on Smeg’s SR620X side by side fridge).

Hot tip
Some models even offer motorised controls so that you can move shelves up and down at the touch of a button.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are LG, Smeg, Samsung, Siemens.

 

MODULAR DESIGNS

Trying to fit a fridge into a small or awkwardly shaped kitchen? Consider one of the new customised fridge-freezer combinations, such as Gaggenau’s Vario Cooling series and Electrolux’s E:Line range, which allow you to mix and match a range of different fridge and freezers – and even a wine chiller – to suit the size and layout of your kitchen.

Hot tip
Pigeon pairs are another popular choice, giving you the option to fit a large fridge or freezer side by side, or in separate rooms altogether.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are Gaggenau, Electrolux.

 

ELECTRONIC TOUCH SCREEN CONTROLS

You no longer have to turn a dial to change the temperate of your fridge – temperature controls have gone decidedly high tech in recent years. Electronic touch-screen control panels give you precise control over the temperature inside your fridge and freezer, allowing you to adjust up to six separate areas at one time. Models to look out for include Miele’s 14842SDCS bottom mount fridge, Westinghouse’s WBM4304SB bottom mount fridge, and GE’s PFSA5NJDSS French door fridge.

Hot tip
Some models, including Smeg’s SR620X side by side fridge and Electrolux’s EHE5107SA French door fridge, allow you to switch between pre-set modes such as energy saving, gentle defrost or rapid freeze at the touch of a button.

Where to look
The brands to look out for are Whirlpool, Siemens, Liebherr.

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Remodeling your kitchen? The case for “factory”cabinets!

The big guys may not offer the customization you get from a local craftsman, but factory-made-to-order cabinets have the following benefits:

1. Warranties of up to 25 years on cabinets, accessories, workmanship, and internal hardware.

2. Controlled environment that yields more stable wood, which reduces warping and splitting later.

3. Computerized cutting tools that offer more precise joinery than anything done by hand.

4. Baked-on finishes that are more durable than local guys’ air-dried ones. Dust-free finishing rooms also provide a smooth-as-glass surface.

Thirteen tricks that take your kitchen island to the next level!

  1. Seating: A recessed area for stools is a must-have.
  2. Cooking vs. Cleanup: If kitchen size requires one activity to happen at the island, cooking wins. My clients want the sink below a window and the dishwasher near some cupboards. And they want to be facing guests while cooking, not while wrestling dirty dishes.
  3. A good view: Guests want to see what’s going on in the kitchen. Cooks want to see what’s going on around the TV or out on the patio. Pulling a kitchen wall down can make room for an island that opens to an adjoining room.
  4. Extra cabinet storage and counter space: Duh!
  5. Countertop all at one level: Between food prep, homework, and hors d’oeuvres, a generous, continuous workspace rules the day.
  6. Beauty: Folks see the island as a place to show off their style, be it carved furniture legs or modern “waterfall” ends.
  7. Contrast: The cabinetry might be a different wood species or paint color than the rest of the kitchen. And a contrasting counter might provide some visual pop.
  8. Good, fun lighting: This is often the spot that gets the “feature” pendants or track lighting hanging from the ceiling.
  9. Extra prep sink and room for a kitchen helper.
  10. Microwave drawer: Though expensive, this appliance can be a good alternative when kitchen wall space is devoted to cabinets and main appliances.
  11. Below-counter refrigerator for wine and beverages: This can take some of the load off the main fridge and bolster the island’s role as an entertainment hub.
  12. End shelves for display, cookbooks etc.
  13. Roll-out shelf below the counter for a heavy mixer: This is one of the few places, other than at sinks, where I use cabinet doors. The goal here is a short lift of the mixer onto the counter directly above.

A few kitchen remodel pitfalls to avoid!

Skipping the Background Check

In our survey, almost 20 percent of general contractors lacked a state license or insurance, and 9 percent lacked both. You’ll give up certain protections from your state license board if you hire a contractor who lacks proper credentials. Plus our survey found that accredited contractors are better at holding down costs on remodeling projects when unexpected problems arise.

In addition to reviewing their paperwork, you should check the references of contractors on your shortlist. Ask past clients about their overall experience working with the contractor and also how their work has held up over time. Ideally, you can speak with a recent client as well as one from a few years back.

Changing Your Mind

This is the biggest mistake homeowners make on a kitchen remodel, according to our survey. So-called change orders, or work that is requested after the project is underway, inflates the budget by an average of 10 percent. Given that the average kitchen remodel in this country costs around $28,000, that’s a few thousand bucks worth of indecision per project. So spend however long you need on the design, then stick to the plan no matter what.

Having an Open-Ended Contract

Actually, even worse than this is having no contract at all on a kitchen remodel. But assuming you do enter into a written agreement with your contractor, it’s critical that you document every possible aspect of the project. That includes the start date and end date, including a clause on what the penalty will be if the project goes long because of the contractor (say he or she became overly distracted by another project). Ideally, the contract will also include every product and material that’s going to be installed, right down to the thickness of the drywall and the finish on the kitchen faucet.

Forgetting Functionality

Style usually drives a kitchen design. Paint colors and backsplash tiles are definitely more fun than ventilation, lighting, and storage. But the latter elements are going to influence your longterm satisfaction in a major way.

If there’s room in the budget and plan, a range hood will do a far better job of removing smoke and odor than the built-in ventilation in an over-the-range microwave. Undercabinet lighting is essential to efficient food prep. And look for ways to improve the cabinet storage, for example by putting drawers in the base units, instead of pullout shelves.

Getting Hung Up on One Element

Successful kitchen remodeling requires a balanced budget. Spend too much on appliances and your cabinets will suffer. Go for the pricey countertop and you might have to cut back on lighting fixtures. But there are ways to have it all, without having it all.

When it comes to appliances, you might go big on the refrigerator, choosing an impressive built-in model with integrated paneling, and then save on the range by opting for a freestanding slide-in model, which costs thousands less than a true pro-style range from the likes of Wolf or Viking. As for the countertop, you might mix and match materials, choosing inexpensive laminate for the perimeter of the kitchen and luxurious wood for the island countertop.

Relying on Rough Sketches

Don’t settle for two-dimensional drawings, especially on a major project where the layout is being completely reconfigured. Three-dimensional drawings will help you visualize the space so much better than flat elevations. Pay particular attention to traffic flow. For example, is circulation completely blocked when the refrigerator door is ajar? If you’re a two-cook household, is there room for you both to move about the space freely? Virtual reality software goes a step further than 3D drawings by allowing you to immerse yourself in the remodeled space before the actual work begins. If you’re hiring a professional architect or designer, ask if they’re using virtual reality yet.

Overpaying for High-End Materials

Some natural materials, like marble countertops and hardwood floors, deliver a luxurious look. But besides their steep cost, these materials are often susceptible to wear and tear. Instead of marble, consider low-maintenance quartz, which is our top-rated countertop material. Though some versions are as expensive as natural stone, many manufacturers offer entry-level lines that combine looks, durability, and a competitive price tag. On the floor, consider a porcelain tile, like Lumber Liquidators’ Avella Brazilian Cherry. It resembles the real thing, earned near perfect scores in our tests, and costs less than $4 per square foot, which is half what you’ll pay for some solid hardwood floors.