Choosing Kitchen Appliances

By: Braeg Heneffe

For many years this question didn't really come into play. Go back over a hundred years and you wouldn't find a kitchen in the world with built-in appliances. Freestanding cookers, clay ovens and, well, a hole in the wall with a fire was the normal arrangement.

Over the last few decades the entire world has taken a real shine to the more space efficient and neater looking integrated kitchen.

What are we losing if we don't have freestanding appliances? The simple answer is flexibility. You cannot change the layout of your kitchen, and you can't clean behind the appliance either. Also, if an integrated model goes wrong or is damaged, then you have to have an engineer come out to install a new model - this wouldn't be the case if you had a conventional freestanding fridge or microwave for example.

Where would I benefit having a fitted kitchen with built in appliances? Design is a big thing for some families, and in a consumer driven market we have plenty of options nowadays. Dishwashers can be completely hidden in your kitchen, as can washers, dryers and refrigeration units.

This helps keep simple and attractive lines in your kitchen, the same colour scheme (by having matching doors), and also help keep the noise levels down through further cladding.

Built in ovens can be placed into a tall column or underneath the counter, depending on space and personal preference. If they are under counter you can still have room to place a cooker hob into the work surface, but be careful as some modern induction hobs have a deeper base and can be too intrusive.

Obviously if you decide on a built in cooker, then you must have a separate hob, unlike a freestanding cooker or range cooker which has a hob already. This means you have the option of keeping your hob and oven in different location is the kitchen, giving more space to cook if you have more than one budding chef in the family.

The built in fridge freezers do cost more than their freestanding counterparts, not just because they need the cabinet (furniture) door on the front, but also because there is slightly more technology involved in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately there are a lot less options though, mainly because the housing for them is limited by the kitchen manufacturers, and are usually just 55cm in width, meaning less space than a 60cm freestanding model. The height is also restricted to around 178cm, whereas freestanding models go past 2 meters tall.

The American and European markets have a big affection for coffee, and this means there are now several options for built-in coffee machines. They take up much more space, and require a whole space from the tall cabinets you will have designed, but they look good, have plenty of features and are a must if you are a coffee lover. Look out for other features that make it easier to justify the higher price - some will make up to 8 types of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and some models are fully automatic (bean to cup).

So it really is down to personal preference on looks, budget and flexibility. This means we still have the choice, which makes it even more fun buying new appliances and kitchens.

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