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"Entry Level" Kitchen Renovation


sandercohan
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So the fiancee and I bought a fantastic house -- very much a right place at the right time situation -- a 1930's era brick colonial.

While everything is in decent shape -- the previous owner was an engineer for the DPW who was meticulous about maintenance -- the kitchen is very small and needs some updating, especially for folks like us who like to cook (me) and entertain (my fiancee).

On the upside, though, I get to re-do the kitchen how I like it. On the downside, our funds are limited.

I'll post photos in a bit b/c I'm sure you folks would have some interesting ideas on how I can update the space, but my first question is about appliances. Do people have recommendations on good "entry level" gas ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers (we need all three)? I can't afford a $3000 rig, but I could probably swing something in the $1500 range, for example.

Thanks,

Sander

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Do people have recommendations on good "entry level" gas ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers (we need all three)?  I can't afford a $3000 rig, but I could probably swing something in the $1500 range, for example.

Having gone through a similar quest for appliances about 3 1/2 years ago, here's what I bought:

Range: Stainless GE Profile dual-fuel range. Gas top, with a 15K btu burner as well as a precise simmer. Continuous burner / heavy duty grates. Electric oven with self clean. I recall I paid around $1,600. So far, has worked without a hitch. My only regret is I bought a 30" when a 36-42"" would have been better.

Fridge: LG (also stainless). Great fridge. Bottom freezer with swing door. Nice compartments / storage shelves in both fridge and freezer sections. Has pull out bin in freezer. Only complaint is that the manual ice maker is horrible.

Dishwasher: 1st attempt: Maytag with stainless front. Catastrophic failure after 3 years -- as luck would have it, just outside the warranty period. Too bad, it did a good job cleaning dishes. 2nd attempt: Kitchen Aid with stainless interior and black front, with upgradeable front panel to match cabinets (for a later project!). So far so good, but too early to tell about reliability. On that topic, nearly everything I've owned made by Maytag has had problems.

Good Luck!

- VD

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2nd attempt: Kitchen Aid with stainless interior and black front, with upgradeable front panel to match cabinets (for a later project!). 

You raise a great point... When we had to replace our dishwasher a couple of years before we were able to launch our ambitious kitchen remodel, we selected a model that accepts a custom panel and used a temporary one made out of a piece of plain old mdf that we had spray-painted glossy white at a body shop. Looked great and when we were ready to remodel, we just threw away the mdf and inserted the custom panel.

Unfortunately, I can't speak to specific brands except to say that our original kitchen had GE Profile appliances (wall ovens, 4-burner gas cooktop, and dishwasher) and I hated all of them. The wall ovens were a disaster--the latch broke under warranty and STILL couldn't be fixed, so I never was able to use the self-cleaning options and the ovens never heated evenly. Only 2 burners on the cooktop ever worked reliably; the others had to be manually lit and the indoor grill feature never got above lukewarm because the automatic down-draft vent sucked all the flame and heat away from the food. The dishwasher was the best of a bad lot until it started leaking black greasy goo onto the dishes at about 6 years old.

Good luck, though! :)

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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Do people have recommendations on good "entry level" gas ranges, refrigerators, and dishwashers (we need all three)?  I can't afford a $3000 rig, but I could probably swing something in the $1500 range, for example.

Thanks,

Sander

You can often get great deals on appliances at scratch and dent appliance warehouses, and they nearly always come with a full warranty. I've bought a lot of Kitchenaid appliances at such places over the years and never had a bit of trouble with any of them.

The only KA appliance that I didn't like was a 5 burner cooktop, which IMHO did not have enough BTUs. But for home use, it was one of the higher-rated BTU cooktops at the time.

Also be sure to check out the appliance forum on the www.gardenweb.com site. Lots of great info over there.

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2nd attempt: Kitchen Aid with stainless interior and black front, with upgradeable front panel to match cabinets (for a later project!). 

You raise a great point... When we had to replace our dishwasher a couple of years before we were able to launch our ambitious kitchen remodel, we selected a model that accepts a custom panel and used a temporary one made out of a piece of plain old mdf that we had spray-painted glossy white at a body shop. Looked great and when we were ready to remodel, we just threw away the mdf and inserted the custom panel.

To add to that, I think anyone contemplating a kitchen remodel should seriously consider where the kitchen "look" will be 10-15 years from now. Unless you plan to live in your existing house until you die, it's not just a question of getting what you want and/or is trendy, you need to also consider resale value. There has been a HUGE transformation the past few years regarding the role a kitchen plays in the house -- often a central entertaining hub open to other rooms. And second, the Food TV generation has inspired a demand for pro-chef-level appliances that has resulted in designing home kitchens to look like restaurant kitchens -- aka "trophy kitchens."

Coinicidentally, there is an interesting article in the 2/20/08 edition of the Washington Times that speaks a bit to these issues. They intimate some of these trends may be maturing, particularly with regard to stainless everything in the kitchen. In keeping with the kitchen as living room / family room concept, more and more people want appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. to look like furniture and/or the cabinetry around them.

As this site is devoted to cooks and foodies, I doubt we have a lot of "trophy kitchen" types here. But I also think we have people who are willing to put good money into a nice kitchen and want to get the most out of their investment as possible. You can spend $50 - $100K on a total kitchen remodel in the blink of an eye. Be careful when canvassing the home mags' for ideas you don't get pulled into the ultra trendy look and all the stainless steel.

Just $.02 from a guy in the midst of some major house remodeling!

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I enjoy researching things before I buy them and I often use Consumer Search to find info on things I'm interested in. It's kind of like a free Consumer Reports, I would also check there if you feel so inclined. I looked through Consumer Search and they rate this one highly GE® 30" Free-Standing Gas Range with Warming Drawer Model#: JGBP85SEMSS

And, if it were me, I'd look around on the Internet and get a few in mind, then spend the day going to Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. to look at some to get a feel for them.

And like others have mentioned the scratch and dent are always a great deal if you can live with cosmetic blemishes.

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I enjoy researching things before I buy them and I often use Consumer Search to find info on things I'm interested in. It's kind of like a free Consumer Reports, I would also check there if you feel so inclined. I looked through Consumer Search and they rate this one highly GE® 30" Free-Standing Gas Range with Warming Drawer Model#: JGBP85SEMSS

This is the same exact range I have.

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Check Craigslist, ebay, and local used for-sale ads for *some* stuff. Stick with stuff that people are getting rid of because they just bought a new house but want to remodel the kitchen with all new trophy kitchen appliances. Beware, though. They will lie about the age of the appliance. Find the serial number plate. It might list the mfg date, or you might be able to use the serial number to get the date from the manufacturer's web site or an 800-number. I'd only trust a used dishwasher or fridge if it was a really good deal and fairly new.

If you have room, get more than one dishwasher. Dishwashers are sometimes cheaper than cabinets. If you get enough of them, you never have to empty the dishwasher. Just use them for storing your plates and glasses! (I'm not completely kidding here.)

When laying out cabinets, consider what happens when you need to replace your appliances. The refrigerator I *want* to buy is a half inch too tall for the space I have. And there's no way I can replace my range with a 36" unit -- I can't just get rid of a cabinet to one side.

A big mistake to avoid can happen if you put down a new floor. Be careful that it isn't so thick that your dishwasher can never come out. It will eventually break. To replace it, you need to slide it out. If the floor is too thick, it'll be blocked in.

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I've found some great deals talking with remodeling contractors/carpenter friends, etc, who have taken on remodels for high roller clients. Two year old kitchens, with mid to high end appliances, being torn out. Some real deals to be had for cheap.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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