If you dream of new appliances – and who doesn’t? – here’s how our design writer would turn a dream kitchen into reality
By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Contributing Design Editor
Friends often say: “You are really lucky to have a job where you can see all the latest in appliances.
Yes and no.
The “yes” is the part of me that loves to see all the new innovations. The “no” part is the desire to constantly redo my kitchen appliances.
This year’s crop of new kitchen standouts is better than ever because of technology, especially in refrigerators. Two of the coolest models are from GE and Samsung.
GE’s Café Series refrigerator with Keurig K-Cup brewing system has a two-fold advantage: Its hot water dispenser makes brewing quicker without having to fill the container and it leaves more room on the counter to get rid of the cluttered look. The brewer is also dishwasher safe, another bonus. And this is something all the techies will love (I do) – GE connected technology allows you to preset the brew time through your cell phone. Suggested selling price: $3,300.
Samsung, the company that makes everything from high-definition televisions and cell phones to appliances, has developed the Family Hub, the one appliance that is on top of my must-have list. The computer on the door has a built-in camera to show you what’s missing in the fridge, allows direct grocery ordering for those of us who hate to go to the grocery store and an integrated touchscreen that shows calendars, notes and photos. My biggest love: It has four doors and the bottom two are what Samsung calls “FlexZone” because if you, like me, don’t use much frozen food, it allows more refrigerator space when one of the bottom sections is converted from freezer space. I have seen it advertised for as high as $5,599.
There is one caveat: If you are replacing your old refrigerator rather than doing a complete remodel with a designer, you need to measure carefully. Many of the new refrigerators are taller than those in the past. For my kitchen, I would have to remove overhead cabinets.
For those of us watching our weight and wanting to eat healthier (I plead guilty on this one), several companies offer steam ovens. For example, Gaggenau recently launched the new 400 series Combi-steam oven in 24- and 30-inch widths. It has an automatic cleaning system and a sous-vide cleaning mode. The French term may sound intimidating, but it isn’t. It is French for vacuum and means you can seal ingredients in a plastic bag and cook in a water bath, a healthy way to maintain the food’s vitamins, minerals and color. You can save up to 50 recipes with the TFT touch screen. The oven also can steam, bake, simmer, braise and broil. A fixed inlet and outlet water connection and new cleaning cartridge make cleanup easy. Starting price: $6,999.
My dream appliances have already cost me an estimated $12,598.
Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but wall ovens have received a makeover. The concept that a variety of manufacturers have embraced is French door ovens. Viking introduced a French door oven this year that not only looks good, it is easy to open with one hand in small spaces such as a galley kitchen. It has a large oven cavity and three racks including one full extension rack that I love because of access to larger items such as a turkey. Viking boasts that it has the largest convection fan in the industry and even heat distribution because of the broiling element is ribbon shaped under glass. It sells for about $4,999.
If I would have to replace my electric range, I would still need a cooktop. My answer would be induction. It cooks faster, doesn’t heat up the kitchen and is good for parents of small children who love to turn on the knobs because the stovetop is not hot until the pans are placed on the burner. Chefs like it because unlike a standard electric cooktop that has temperature fluctuations this one maintains it temperature and has little heat loss.
When Zach Bell was executive chef at Café Boulud on Palm Beach island, he told me it had a single burner unit in the area where salads and cold appetizers are prepared. Chefs like it because unlike a standard electric cooktop that has temperature fluctuations this one maintains it temperature and has little heat loss.
“I use it for the flexibility and speed it gives me in the cold appetizer station,” Bell says.
Although at first consumers were told they would have to buy special pans, you can use any pan as long as it attracts a magnet. Magnetism is how induction works. The magnet heats the pan so it becomes the cooking surface, not the burner. The cooktops typically start at around $1,000 and up according to the brand.
One of the best innovations is the freestanding range with induction cooktop. This wasn’t possible in the past because the induction cooktop had more depth. But be prepared to pay. One from Samsung was advertised at $3,699.
Total cost of my dream kitchen with induction cooktop: Estimated $18,597.
And then I woke up.