Remember the days of defrosting your refrigerator, filling up ice cube trays or literally firing up the stove? Thanks to technology, those are all things of the past. Manufacturers have kicked appliances up a notch to provide consumers with convenience, high-tech simplicity and stylish good looks.
|Photo courtesy of Wolf
Cook it up!
If you hate the idea of slaving over a hot stove, there are a number of gourmet delights on the market to make mealtime easier than ever.
Need for speed
One of the hottest items is induction cooking. Mary Miles Temple, marketing director for Milestone Distributors, says, “With induction cooking, a magnetic field instantly transforms your cookware into the heat source.” So, your food cooks efficiently while the cooking surface remains cool.
If you’ve heard your pans may not work with an induction cooktop, you may be right. However, Miles says many, such as Viking’s models, are compatible with most high-end stainless steel, enamel and cast-iron cookware.
Two for one
Can’t decide if you want gas or electric? It’s a common conflict. Many want an electric oven for better baking control, while others seek gas for their stovetop. You can get the best of both worlds; just ask your dealer or designer about dual fuel.
“While electric and induction are easier to clean, some just prefer the cooking performance of gas,” says Lori Dolnick, spokesperson for Miele. “If you pick gas, get fully sealed burners so they will be easy to clean. Electric cooktops with high-performance burners and glass surfaces are easy to clean… while offering a cooking surface that can double as a work area.”
|Photo courtesy of KitchenAid
Whether you are looking for a microwave oven or convection oven, you’ll have no shortage of technological wonders from which to choose. “Some of the latest trends are convection, warming drawers and double ovens all on one range,” says Jill A. Notini, the director of communications and marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). “These features are all very popular right now.”
Convection ovens have a heating element around the fan that draws air in and runs it through the heating elements. There are no hot spots in this style oven since each shelf is equidistant from the heat source. Convection can add about $200 to the cost of your oven.
Then there are companies who are making their products multi-talented. For example, Whirlpool developed the SpeedCook oven. It combines the power of an oven with the convenience of a microwave. It can grill, broil, bake and steam.
Various companies are offering “steam-powered” ovens. “Miele recently introduced a steam oven that cooks entire healthy dinners with steam in under 30 minutes,” Dolnick says.
When you think of infrared light waves, you probably think of Star Trek lasers. But, they are beaming into a kitchen near you. The InfraWave Speed Oven from Black & Decker harnesses the power of infrared light waves to cook meals 50 percent faster than conventional ovens with no defrosting or pre-heating time necessary, and it uses less energy.
“For those who don’t want to see the appliances, consider using more undercounter appliances,” advises Karen Black-Sigler, CKD, interior designer and owner of A Karen Black Company and chapter officer for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). One way to do that is with one of the many microwave drawers on the market from companies such as Dacor and Sharp.
|Photo courtesy of Sub-Zero
Today’s range hoods, essential for venting heat and smoke from high-powered cooktops, are more attractive than their predecessors.
One example is Jenn-Air’s hood from their Oiled Bronze collection. The rich, burnished bronze serves as a centerpiece and adds classic elegance to any kitchen design.
If you would rather keep your ventilation on the down low, Dolnick says you can simply tuck it away. “You can hide them completely in cabinetry,” she says. For example, Miele offers a variety of hoods that are made to be inserted into any custom design you want to create.
For a unique approach to ventilation, Gaggenau offers the VL 041. The venting elements can be mounted on the left and right sides of a built-in cooktop or between two modular cooktops, where they will directly extract from the cooking surface without being noticed by kitchen guests.
|Photo courtesy of Bosch
The refrigerator is often a main attraction in the kitchen. However, integrating such a large appliance can be a challenge, especially with so many variations available.
“Manufacturers are developing new technology, such as Whirlpool’s new fridge that allows owners to attach a laptop, digital photo frame or iPod dock to the door. This is called a centralpark connection,” Notini says. “LG is also making a model with a high-def TV in the door.”
Power to save
“Like all other appliances, energy efficiency is a huge factor with refrigerators, but cost is the biggest purchase factor,” Notini adds. Look for models that are ENERGY STAR rated and review the yellow EnergyGuide label to see what your long-term usage cost
will amount to.
Looks are always a big factor. “When I’m designing with a large refrigerator I really like to do one of two things,” Black-Sigler says. “Use a dynamic refrigerator that really draws the eye, like a 48-inch refrigerator by Traulsen that has two upper glass doors. I have also added slate to the fronts of the refrigerators for a chalkboard. The alternative is to make the refrigerator disappear into its surroundings by covering it with doors to match the cabinetry.”
Looking for an attractive way to store your favorite wines? Many companies now offer just that. For example, Liebherr has the WS 14300. With three temperature zones, it allows you to store all your preferred wines at the exact temperature you desire. Every temperature zone can be adjusted separately, ranging from
41 to 68 degrees F.
|Photo courtesy of Fisher & Paykal
Dish it Out
Determining out who does the dishes can be a dirty situation, but with today’s technology it isn’t quite the backbreaking job it once was.
The newest dishwashers have a stainless interior, which allows for high heat and fast cleaning cycles. They are long-lasting and quiet. Many are made to tackle the toughest dishes so you don’t have to. For example, Whirlpool now offers PowerScour technology, 36 powerful jets that will blast off baked-on food.
Art of illusion
Like its roommate, the vent, many don’t want to show off a dishwasher. You can buy models ready to be covered in cabinetry panels or shop for a more colorful option. One example is Dacor’s 24-inch dishwasher that features a front panel in colored glass. It can be found at stores such as The Home Depot.
Get a green clean
Known for its eco-friendly steam washing machine, LG now has the LG steam dishwasher. It is said to be more energy efficient and comes with extras like a third rack for utensils and hard-to-clean flatware.