Appliance Selection 101: Think Before You Buy

my range

Lately I seem to be getting a lot of questions from clients and friends who are confused about appliance selection. Their questions range from “Is this too big?” to “Where should I put it?” And before I give my answer, I always ask a few questions of my own that will make them think before they buy.

The first thing I tell them is the appliance needs to fit the space, and leave enough room for counter top prep areas. When you’re in the appliance showroom, not only is it overwhelming, but extra-large appliances begin to look normal. Clients get so excited about owning a 48” range and are all set to make the purchase. But…Think Before You Buy!

The next questions I always ask have to do with your lifestyle and your needs. Think about your lifestyle (or the lifestyle you want to have in your new kitchen).

1. How do you work in your kitchen? Do you like to have all of your    appliances clustered together near the sink?
2. How much cooking do you actually do? Will you really use all the burners on a 48” range or will a 36” range be more practical for you and your budget?

range and hood

3. Technology and design are important. Are you living the lifestyle of a crazy busy person? In that case, maybe an induction cook top would be best for you. Another benefit of induction cooking is the safety feature of burners never being hot….perfect for aging parents or small children.
4. Think about the placement of each appliance in the room. Are they convenient to the way you work in your kitchen? Is the height comfortable for you? Does bending bother your knees and back? Then raising the height a bit will work best for your needs.

micro oven

A crazy course that I had to take in college was Home Management. One of the requirements of the class was to count all the steps we took as we prepared a meal. Then we figured out ways we could be more efficient. At the time I thought it was a waste of time and a joke. But now that I help clients create the best kitchen possible for their lifestyle, I can see the value in that Home Management course.

Design For Aging Parents

  Retired elderly couple cooking food together in the kitchen

How many times have we worried about our parents living alone in the big “family home?”  Or maybe it’s not that big, but we worry anyway?  Since most houses have been built for growing families and not growing old, staying in the home that we love, in the community we’re familiar with, gradually becomes a problem for us.

Master suites are on the second floor requiring many stairs to climb.  Laundry rooms are in the basement, where we face even more stairs…and the poor lighting is often the norm.

Our parents want to remain independent, and we want this for them too.  But often this requires making modifications to their home that they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge even if it would make life easier and more convenient.    Because, after all, who wants to admit that they aren’t as “quick on their feet” as they once were?

Are they still active and want to make these decisions for themselves?  Do they resent the fact that you’re concerned and turn down any ideas that you come up with?  This seems to be a common complaint from the adult children I’ve spoken with.  But I guess that if the roles were reversed, I would feel the same way.  Who wants to be told by their children how to live their life and where to live it?

There are 5 levels of dependence that each require different methods of care.

1.  Still active and independent – appreciate the concern but want you to stay out of it and let them live their life, even if you can see some ways to modify their home to make life easier and more convenient

2.  They recognize a need for modification and are beginning to feel less confident or secure living as they have been

3.  Assisted living or nursing care has been agreed upon and the family home needs to be modified, redecorated, or staged to sell

4.  Your parent has decided to move to a smaller home in an active adult community, independent care, or assisted living community and needs help with the downsizing process.  There’s a lifetime of  possessions to sort through, redistribute, move, and set up in their new home.

5.  Your parents are moving into your home and you need to make modifications or remodel to make life comfortable for everyone.

In which of these groups does your parent fall?