Appliances and Kitchen Details

Whether you are planning a traditional kitchen or the currently popular back wall with a focal point and  parallel islands adjoining the living area todays appliances that disappear make the options endless.  Dining and television viewing are priorities for any style. Make sure you have enough countertop space with your design. The back wall may form an L or U to accommodate appliances.  Walkways with opening oven and refrigerator doors can be a hazard. Provide landing space for food and hot dishes. The goal has become a seamless flow of the kitchen with the adjoining space.

The back wall is the focal point with the range/backsplash/hood or another defining element for visual impact. A balanced distribution of cabinetry and stainless steel (or other materials/colors) is important. Wood panels are an option for appliances to blend in with cabinetry.

Kitchen islands form great work areas and gathering spots!  A view? Do you want guests to look out to the view or at your cabinetry?  Bar stools on both sides allow table type interaction. Consider the number of people you want to seat.  Bar stools or chairs or both with two levels customize the space for your family and friends.  

Contemporary Kitchen

Appliance selection influences the design. Will the dominant kitchen wall be viewed from the entry or an adjoining gathering area? Choose the best combination to start your focal point wall. It may be a Wolf range and custom hood and/or stunning tile.

The appliances may be from many companies and finishes and handle compatibility needs to be considered. There are so many companies that make good appliances that selection can be confusing. Therein lies the dilemma for choosing compatible appliances that will be viewed together in one area!

REFRIGERATORS  Sub-Zero has been the industry standard for quality in luxury homes in the US.  (In other countries, it is Gaggenau.) Sub-Zero has reformatted their line so their integrated components can be used side by side. This will add to the ease of creating the new look that is so popular. Integrated options have no visible hinges or grilles. Options are: the 36″ and 48″ refrigerator, the freezer options of 27″ columns, refrigerator and freezer drawers, the French door and more.  The built-in products can be installed side by side in a handle to handle configuration only.  In a handle to hinge application, a vertical cabinet divider is required.  The refrigerator/freezer does have two compressors and many chefs and homeowners conclude that the food stays fresher longer with a compressor for the refrigerator side rather than warmed air from the freezer side that a single compressor refrigerator has.  Consumer reports also recommends Thermador (columns as well).  Consider:

  • Miele
  • GE Monogram
  • Dacor
  • Liebheer (European contemporary) with a stainless interior option
  • Samsung “Family Hub” (check inside while shopping)
  • Whirlpool Smart Appliances allow automated cooking with a mobile app
  • Jenn-Air (integrates with Nest)
  • Bosch’s line of 24″ appliances are great for compact high end living
  • Gaggenau evolved from professional kitchens with refined engineering that is rugged and sleek, handle-less minimalist line and limitless cooking options to round out your look.

Kitchens are labor intensive.  Use as much advice as you can get from appliance manufacturers that are selling product every day along with designers that can make the space visually flow and function well.  If selecting from one manufacturer to simplify the process Thermidor, GE Monogram, Kitchenaide and Miele have good choices for every appliance you will need.

Contemporary KitchenGENERAL KITCHEN INFO – Recognized quality appliances are a benchmark for luxury homes. The refrigerator needs to be integrated with wood panels or the stainless steel appliances need to be distributed around the room in a balanced design. The ovens and range will not have wood panels so take this into consideration.  The wood panels for the dishwasher, refrigerators and freezers are made by the cabinet maker and not included in the refrigerator price and if a handle is needed (some are integrated) then start with this over-sized handle and coordinate cabinetry hardware with it.

The next most sought after appliance in custom homes is the Wolf RANGE for gas cooking.  Again a favorite with chefs.  The scale of this range can easily create the basis for a focal point in the kitchen with a custom hood above and great backsplash detail.  A recent article featured a kitchen with a Wolf range, a La Cornue rotisserie, a Miele Speed oven, a Miele Combi-Steam oven, a Wolf warming draw and a restaurant grade BlueStar Salamander broiler. Another had a Wolf range, a Miele Combi-Steam oven and warming drawer and another had two Wolf ranges with a separate Wolf electric wall oven, convection steam oven, warming drawer and microwave.  An Officine Gullo rotisserie completed the cooking options.

If WALL OVENS are being used with a cooktop additional room space will be needed for them along with door opening consideration.

STEAM OVENS are the most popular new appliance.  The new Wolf convection steam oven allows owners to cook sous vide in steam mode along with many options for more perfect results including sanitizing. An entire meal can be prepared in this small, time saving oven. Most are adding this to the list of necessary appliances but not deleting the microwave

Additional choices – Dacor RANGE, GE Monogram (has wi-fi connect), Thermador and Viking. Thermador’s Pro Grand Range offers steam and convection oven, six gas burners, griddle/grill, warming drawer and an additional convection oven. Want a more European look? French top of the line La Cornue’s Chateau has ten new colors and 8,000 configurations. Bertazzoni embraces the Italian culture . The Aga for color, but they heat up the room-great in some areas.  They do have a conventional gas stove suited for the US market. Blue Star’s features and colors may appeal to you.  Miele PureLine and ContourLine designs in white, truffle brown, black and steel  and all have websites for further information.

If you are making a CUSTOM HOOD, you need an exhaust liner.  Vent-a-hood is quiet and a great choice, but GE Monogram, Kitchenaid, Thermador and Wolf have dependable options as well. There are over 200 companies that make hoods if you are not doing a custom design. Zephyr has some interesting styles with dimable LED light that exceeds Energy Star requirements!  Poggenpohl Visor range hood is integrated into the cabinetry.  Miele has received awards for the Lumen hood in stainless with an LED light band. Considerations for performance and minimum noise from hoods:  never make the size or area of the duct smaller than the size that originates at the hood-the larger the ductwork the better.  Do not exceed 50 ductwork feet and separate two 90 degree elbow turns with at least 24” of straight ductwork.  When using a remote exterior blower, use one 90 degree elbow to reduce noise transmission back to the hood.  Place transition pieces at least 12” from the hood outlet or remote blower inlet.  Codes determine the height off the heat source and the closer it is to the size of the cook top/range top the better it will draw.  Ceiling mounted hoods that allow more design options are available from Miele and Wolf.

Add cabinetry for often used or heavy appliances.  Cabinetry resting on the countertop allows for heavy mixers, toaster ovens and coffee stations to be at the best height AND out of site.  File drawers for appliance info, storage for children’s art, display cabinetry, open shelving instead of cabinetry, recycle and trash drawers, recharging and additional sinks near the frig all add to efficiency and comfort.

OUTDOOR KITCHENS are so popular that manufacturers are daily introducing new options.  Grills are available from Wolf, DCS, Capital, Viking, GE Monogram. U-Line has an Energy Star rated outdoor under counter refrigerator. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has a dishwasher.

Other Great Appliance Considerations 

INDUCTION COOK TOPS are so fast and easy.  They heat up in seconds and you wipe the glass top clean.   Thermador, Wolf, and Miele are all good choices.  Make sure you have enough power if you intend to use all burners simultaneously.

New technology makes it possible to use induction under a continuous countertop so the entire surface is available when the heating element is not in use.  Wolf has a countersunk cook top as well as 15″ wide modules in electric, gas or induction.  Fisher & Paykel has a 12″ wide two burner induction cooktop.  Miele’s induction cooktop communicates with their ventilation hood through Con@ctivity 2.

WINE COOLERS:  Sub-Zero (option 30″ integrated with refrigerator and freezer drawers and ice maker, 4 temperature zone options), GE monogram, Marvel, Kitchenaid, GE Profile and U-Line.

DISHWASHERS: Cove, Miele, Bosch, Asko have models that heat the water to a higher temperature and are very quiet. Energy Star ratings insure water efficiency.

Fisher Paykel has DRAWER DISHWASHERS, check for sizes with the manufacturer.

GAS COOK TOPS: Thermador, Wolf, Dacor and GE Monogram.

MICROWAVES: GE for general use/warming.  Dacor, Miele, Wolf and Thermador for real cooking. Several of these are made by the same manufacturer.  Sharp has a microwave drawer that is useful for spacing considerations.

Fisher-Paykel has a multi temperature REFRIGERATION DRAWER as does sub-zero, GE and Kitchenaid.

WARMING DRAWERS: many options from the above companies.

WALL OVENS:  Dacor or any of the above companies.

ICE MAKERS:  U-Line, Scotsman-Brilliance for ice purists, Sub Zero, Marvel, GE Monogram, Viking and Kitchenaide.  Prefer a certain shape? That may be the determining factor for the brand. Pebble ice? Scottsman.

WASHERS AND DRYERS:  Miele and Asko under counters. Whirlpool Duette, Electrolux, GE Profile and Maytag for other considerations.   Whirlpool has cream color-there are so few color choices that if it is your top priority start with color!

PIZZA OVENS:  Independent unit from kalamazoogourmet or order the oven from Earthstone to create a custom design inside or out.

GARBAGE DISPOSALS: InSinkErator has always been a top garbage disposal-their new low profile PRO 1000LP series is redesigned and improved.  2hp preferable.

WATER FILTRATION:  Aqua Pure, Body Grow, Environmental Water and Overture.

Consider adding a reverse osmosis system.

Don’t forget the KITCHEN SINK! Stainless steel sinks are rated by gauge.  Farmhouse sinks are popular with one large interior space and provide more space behind the sink. Other configurations that separate the garbage disposal area from the other section or sections.  Function, spacing and design all enter into the choice. Material choices include porcelain, enamel, composites, stainless steel, copper, concrete or cast iron.  Integrated solid surface sinks that are one with the countertop are sleek and easy to clean.  Add sinks for vegetable prep, drinks and pets. Blanco (check out the Ronis Entertainment Sink featuring MicroEdge), Elkay (check unique shapes and quartz luxe farmhouse), Franke, Kohler  and Rohl  are some of the best and the same companies have faucets. Brizo’s Coltello faucet has a LED light to indicate temperature. Grove’s LadyLux3 Cafe Touch allows you to tap your foot to turn the water on and off.  Additional companies for faucets include:   Newport Brass,  Grohe, Blanco, Brizo, Dornbracht, Kallista.  The same companies typically have bath faucets, handles and shower heads.  Add soap dispensers and water filtration from the same companies.  Hands-free faucets eliminate germs, running faucets and add convenience.

79.6” is the highest a person 5’3” – 5’7” can reach.  When reaching over a 25” base cabinet the distance for reach is 69”.   24” off the floor is the lowest comfortable reaching distance.

48” side to side and the front 18” of the countertop is what is used.

Adding a televisions?  Viewing, cabinetry and electrical considerations need to be considered.

COUNTERTOPS:  (Also check that section on this site)  Tip: Over 70% of home buyers and those remodeling consider granite, marble, limestone, quartzite or quartz  countertops essential. These products are durable and attractive. Quartz is gaining in popularity and has lighter and solid color options that are not available with granite. It is a man made product, the costs are similar to granite but it needs less maintenance.  Avoid direct contact with high temperature as the resins in composites may discolor. I have tested samples and have not had a problem with discoloration.  The longevity of the finish with the natural stones depends on how the countertop is cared for.  Stone cleaner and stone spray will extend the finish. Limestone is higher maintenance as is marble.  Black granite is great and the quartz composites in gray a good choice for a concrete look.

PROOG208DBL-SP_3005_BB_LGAnother showstopper is the Officine Gullo bespoke double oven range in more than 650 colors and three finishes. 

la conqueBertazzoni of Italy has Ferrari and Lamborghini colors.

W Collection by La Cornue re-creates the owner as a master chef!

The AGA Marvel Raclaret rangenge features two hot plates, three radiant heat burners, cast iron ovens with presets at the correct temperature for roasting, slow cooking and baking.  The newest color, Claret, is inspired by Bordeaux wine!

La Canche is another import to consider for color or style.

Dacor has voice kitchen technology as part of its Dacor iQ Remote App and you can pick the range color!

Alexa will also save you time!  and Escali linked to an app can track calorie and nutrient intake!

Built in COFFEE STATIONS are another luxury option. Miele, Wolf, Thermador, Jenn-Air, Bosch with owner voice activation and others are available. TopBrewer has just the faucet exposed. Add space in the cabinet under it for the appliance.




There is more inspiration and information on my Pinterest boards!

Appliances    Kitchens     Great Sinks


Dots Legend

Universal Design involves space for wheel chair access while preparing foods and cleanup.  Typically open spaces under the countertops.  The entire space would be detailed with the individual in mind to make day to day living the most convenient and functional.

Residential Design Elements

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