The myriad of kitchen appliance styles and choices can seem overwhelming. When shopping for a stove, which one is right for you? Which are more popular? Are the features of higher priced models worth the cost? Before you throw your hands up in frustration, we’re here to help demystify the shopping process for you.
When you break it down, there are really only four main styles of stoves to choose from. Each has its benefits and disadvantages. Below is a list of those four styles.
We’re all familiar with the traditional stove. The controls are typically on a vertical back-guard at the rear of the stove. This style comes in the greatest variety of options and finishes. You can get gas, electric, convection, or dual fuel. The cooking surface can be coil, gas, induction, and a variety of burner quantities and layouts. You can choose between various colors of enamel or stainless steel. This style is the easiest to install and is placed between a variety of cabinet patterns. For some models, it is simply a matter of plugging it in, pushing it into place – level it and your cooking!
As a rule of thumb, freestanding models are the least expensive style for comparable models and options. There is, of course, always the exception in cost. 48”-60” high-end gas ranges can exceed $13,000.
A slide-in stove is similar to a freestanding, but there is no back-guard and the stovetop has an overhanging lip which blends with your countertop. The dials that would be on the back-guard in a freestanding stove, are instead located at the front. This is an added safety feature since you don’t have to reach over hot burners to adjust the controls. Today’s front knob design usually has safe-guards for accidental bumping or children who like to ‘see how it works’. This is significantly more important for gas type ranges. This style typically does not have side-walls (although available as an option in some models) so it must be installed between two cabinets. This provides a clean, integrated, high-end esthetic.
Slide-ins are more complicated to install since they need to fit properly between the cabinets and a strip of countertop needs to typically be installed at the back of the stove. Slide-ins are available in most of the styles available with freestanding models.
Many consumers are unaware as to what a drop-in oven truly is, and often mistakenly refer to either slide-ins and built-ins as drop-ins (even most appliance salespeople!). Drop-in ovens are basically a burner top only…..no bottom drawer (ovens). Whereas slide-ins stand on the floor, drop-ins will typically sit on the lip of the countertop.
To install a drop-in, they are literally “dropped” into their base cabinet box after countertop installation. This creates a streamlined look, but you lose your drawer or warming oven found on the bottom of a slide-in. This style is for the most part more expensive than freestanding or slide-ins, when you consider that a separate oven would need to be purchased, and there is additional countertop square footage required, as it is merely a hole in countertops, where the other styles are a ‘break’ in the length of material needed.
Built-in ovens are built into the cabinetry with no attached stove-top (all the previous mentioned styles have attached stoves). Built-ins are often installed higher than traditional stoves. This makes it easier to access your cooking without requiring bending down. This style of oven allows the greatest flexibility for style and format. Think of it as a completely disassembled stove mounted however you like. People install single or double ovens, oven plus convection, oven plus microwave, oven plus warming drawer or any combination of these. The separate stove top can be placed anywhere but is usually located on the counter where a regular oven would go, or on a kitchen island.
Built-ins give the entire kitchen a sleek, fully integrated, high-end appearance. Built-ins are much more complicated to install and should be left to professional installers. As a rule, the more integrated into a cabinet an appliance is, the more difficult it may be to perform repairs. Built-ins may need to be completely disassembled to perform a repair that would be simple on a freestanding model.
In conclusion, you know your kitchen is central to your home. And for home value considerations, a kitchen is the most important room in the house. A high-end kitchen renovation is one of the few projects that will most often increase the value of your house. It is still the #1 return on investment for home improvement projects.
You’ve probably watched a home buying show where one of the homes featured showed a newly renovated kitchen. If the kitchen is newly renovated but the appliances are low end units offering a coil element stove top, a fridge that’s plain white and undersized for its’ space – the buyers are usually completely turned off from the purchase. A concerned real estate agent is often heard saying “buying new appliances should be easy”. But to no avail, the client has emotionally moved on.
It is also safe to say that replacing a free-standing appliance is easier than a modification on the holes or notches for a drop-in or slide-in with existing countertops, and is as standard as a refrigerator. When considering a renovation of your kitchen, you must think comprehensively, as often replacing appliances after-the-fact can be a problem if not considered now. And, while on the subject, if replacing countertops with appliances is your consideration, also remember it is tough to replace the cabinets after the new tops with appliances have been installed. We have an old adage – show me a pressboard construction cabinet, and I will show you water damage somewhere.
Spending a little more in the short run can earn you dividends later. Whenever you renovate a kitchen it’s important to consider resale value, and the most popular are standard free-standing. However, most popular for appeal are built-ins if your budget allows. Slide-ins are in the middle of both categories. This is a trend that is likely to stay around for a long while. Most real estate agents now consider stainless steel appliances as a minimum kitchen expectation, and adding a gas cook top appeals to the home chef. While attending a recent design trend seminar, industry-word is that black stainless appliances may be the ‘next thing’ in appliance finishes; durable and easier to maintain its clean look.
Until next time…