July 25, 2014

Jenn – Air’s “Designer Dialog”

Jenn-Air is offering those planning or considering a kitchen remodel a fresh way to get professional advice and answers to their kitchen design questions. Designer Dialog, a newly-launched discussion tab on the Jenn-Air Facebook Brand Page, allows visitors to tap the expertise of a rotating lineup of  kitchen designers recruited from throughout the country.

“Input from a professional kitchen designer can make the difference between a good and a great kitchen,” notes Juliet Johnson , Senior Manager of brand experience for Jenn-Air. “Beyond offering stylish, high performance appliances, we see providing access to design expertise as another way to help make great kitchens possible.”

Professionals moderating Designer Dialog discussions are members of the Jenn-Air Design Advisory Council, a group that meets regularly to share insights on industry trends and product design.  East Coast designer, Morton Block , and , Juditch A. Neary from the West Coast are the first two moderators sharing input on the page. Morton Block is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD), holds professional status in the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and is a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS). Judith A. Neary is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD).

“This is a forum that lets consumers ask seasoned professionals their design questions and get different perspectives from designers with diverse experience,” says Neary. “Anyone embarking on a design project will appreciate this resource and should take advantage of it.”

Block recommends that prior to beginning a kitchen redesign the first step should be conducting research to understand the extent of the project and the costs involved with what you want to achieve.

“Many consumers today begin a kitchen research project by doing online research,” notes Block. “When new appliances are part of that plan, the Jenn-Air Designer Dialog provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to tap into the knowledge of veteran design professionals and obtain  advice to ensure a successful project is achieved.”

In addition to being on hand to answer specific questions, moderators will share ideas and insights on a new design topic each month. To join the conversation, click the Designer Dialog tab on the Jenn-Air Facebook Brand Page.

 

Aging in Place – Appliance Placement

If you are a retiree building a new home, you can plan your kitchen and laundry areas to accommodate your aging body. For those of us who plan to stay right where we are, some simple adjustments and purchases can make daily tasks easier.

So, let’s start with the easy ones, like the Washer & Dryer. Front loading models are very popular today, but bending over and getting inside for the very last sock can be a problem for those with mobility issues. Most brands, including Bosch, Whirlpool and Frigidaire make pedestals for all their newer models, and can retrofit them to older models.They range from 11″ to 17″, depending on the brand. The other solution is to pull the machines out, and have your contractor frame in a raised platform at just the right height for you, cover it with linoleum, and your washer and dryer will be much more accessible.

Another place to ‘right height’ appliances is in the kitchen. Here are more tips from HB Building and Design: One popular solution is a lowered cooktop with the controls on the front. If you have room to make this modification, and lower this part of the countertop with the adjacent required landing space, it really makes things easier for shorter people, or someone sitting in a wheelchair or using a walker.

The second kitchen appliance that should be considered is the refrigerator. A side-by-side refrigerator freezer is a much better choice, giving access to both the freezer and the refrigerator from a sitting position. In a more extensive remodel, a wall oven can be installed at a lower height as can the microwave oven.

A final consideration are countertops which should be smooth to allow you to slide rather than lift heavy pots and pans. Cabinets can also be prepared for someone with a progressive illness by specifying removable base cabinets for future wheelchair access.

Shopping Tips – Save Money, be Satisfied

Once you’ve read through our articles on choosing a kitchen appliance and have narrowed down your decision, it’s time to shop.  A good place to start is with your budget.  Knowing what you feel comfortable spending and sticking close to that number will help you to enjoy your new purchases.  One good way to stay within a budget is to decide which appliances you want to splurge on and which ones can be more economical.

These tips will help as you search:

  • Shop for the best buys. Don’t just assume that an appliance warehouse has the best bargains. It’s true that such companies buy directly from the manufacturers, but it’s also common to find a group of smaller dealers who pool their resources to buy bigger volumes at discounted rates from the factory.
  • Consider the value of warranty along with the price. Ask about the extent of the warranty. Which parts are covered? Does the warranty include labor? Will the warranty be honored by another dealer?  In most cases, an extended warranty might no longer be a good investment.
  • Check on installation requirements.Each appliance may have its own requirements. An icemaker on a refrigerator, for example, requires a water line. A downdraft fan on a cooktop eliminates the need for overhead ventilation, but the vent pipe needs outdoor access. Some installations may require the service of a plumber or electrician before the installation.  This will add to the total cost.
  • Find out what is included in the price. If an appliance requires professional installation, ask if that is included in the purchase price. If you decide to install the appliance yourself, be certain the installation charges aren’t included in your purchase price.
  • Although new appliances are a fairly long term investment, they’re not a lifetime commitment like they were 30 years ago,  so take your time deciding, but remember you can upgrade as your budget permits.  So, use these and our other tips and then relax and enjoy your new appliances.

    Choosing Kitchen Appliances – Refrigerators

    Continuing now with refrigerators, we bring you part two of our series on choosing kitchen appliances.  The features that most people consider when looking for a new fridge are storage capacity, ease of use, price and hopefully energy usage.  One of the first things you can do to save energy when purchasing a new appliance of any kind , is to buy one with the Energy Star seal.  A 2007 Energy Star refrigerator uses at least 15 percent less energy than a standard one. 

    HowStuffWorks.com, Consumer Reports and Appliance.net have some tips we’d like to share with you that will help clarify your refrigerator needs.

    While you’ll find an array of refrigerator brands, only a handful of companies actually make these appliances, with essentially similar models under several names. Frigidaire, General Electric, Kenmore, and Whirlpool account for some 75 percent of top-freezer sales and, with Maytag, more than 80 percent of side-by-side purchases.
    You can still get the basic 18-cubic-foot, freezer-on-top model with wire shelves, but the most popular style offers 20 cubic feet of storage; adjustable glass shelves; meat keeper with temperature control; vegetable crisper with humidity control; ice-maker; and door bins.   These typically cost the least and offer more space than comparably sized side-by-sides. Widths typically range from about 30 to 33 inches. Fairly wide refrigerator shelves make it easy to reach the back, though you must bend to reach bottom shelves and drawers. Usable capacity is typically about 80 percent of what’s claimed (about 10 to 25 cubic feet), which brings top-freezers closest to their claims. Price: $400 to $1,200.

    Bottom-freezer brands include Amana, Frigidaire, GE, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Whirlpool. Mainstream companies have introduced high-end brand lines such as Electrolux Icon, Frigidaire Gallery, GE Cafe, Monogram and Profile, Kenmore Elite and Pro, and Whirlpool Gold. These brands cover built-ins: GE (Monogram and Profile), Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Viking. You can also get built-in-style, or cabinet-depth, models from Amana, Bosch, Electrolux, Frigidaire, GE, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool among others. These put refrigerator items at eye level on wide shelves that provide easy access. You’ll have to bend to find items in the freezer, but you’ll typically open the refrigerator much more often. Bottom-freezers tend to cost more than top-freezers and offer less space for their size, however. Widths typically range from 30 to 36 inches. Claimed capacity is up to 26 cubic feet, though usable space is typically a bit less than for top-freezers.

    While most French-door models are 36 inches wide, some are 33 inches, and some offer through-the-door ice and water. Price: $700 to $1,500; $1,600 to $2,000 for French doors. French door fridges, are side-by-side on top with freezers on the bottom and are one of the newer options on the market.

    Side-by-sides are split units that have a freezer on one side and a refrigerator on the other. They’re typically equipped with through-the-door ice and water—among the most requested features—along with temperature-controlled bins and rapid ice-making cycles. Narrow doors that fit tight kitchens are another plus, though most don’t open wide enough to fit pizza boxes and other wide items. High, narrow compartments also make it hard to find items at back. Side-by-sides are typically 32 to 36 inches wide, with claimed capacity of 20 to 30 cubic feet, though we’ve found that only about 65 percent of that space is usable. They’re also pricier than top-freezer models. Price: $800 to $2,000.

    Built-ins are pricey refrigerators that are designed to fit nearly flush with cabinets and counters, and typically comprise bottom-freezers and side-by-sides. Most can accept extra-cost front panels that match other elements of your kitchen. You can even buy a separate refrigerator and freezer mounted together in a 72-inch opening. On the downside, built-ins are wide (36 inches or wider), yet relatively shallow (25 to 26 inches, front to back), making them least-efficient overall. They’ve also been repair-prone in Consumer Reports’ surveys. And at roughly a foot taller than conventional models, they could be hard to fit beneath overhead cabinets. Price: $4,000 to $7,000.

    Cabinet-depth refrigerators are less-shallow, freestanding and offer the look of a built-in for less money. They are available mostly in side-by-side styles, with some top- and bottom-freezers and French-door models available. Many accept extra-cost panels for a custom look, but cabinet-depth models have less usable space than deeper freestanding models and cost more. Price: $1,500 to $3,200.

    Under cabinet refrigerator drawers are among the latest luxuries for kitchens where even the biggest refrigerator simply isn’t enough. But refrigerators drawers tend to be large on price and small on space. They cost little to run because of limited capacity. Price: $1,800 to $3,000.

    How much refrigerator do you need? One rule of thumb says plan on 12 cubic feet for two people and 2 more cubic feet for each additional household member, but other considerations also matter. If you like to stock up during sales, or cook often for crowds, the more room the better. Side-by-side models are easiest to organize, but the smaller models have relatively narrow freezers.  In all cooling sections, look for pull-out, roll-out bins and baskets that make it easy to see everything without having to dig around, squandering energy (yours as well as the refrigerator’s!).  If you’re a serious entertainer, you may want to look into ice makers that fit into the space of a trash compactor and produce large quantities of ice daily.

    Consumer Reports offers this extra advice:

    HOW TO CHOOSE

    Size is usually more important than style, since most new refrigerators must fit in the same space as the old one. Begin by measuring the available space, particularly the width. Include the space you’ll need to open doors, and check that the new fridge you’re considering can fit through halls and doorways.

    Once you’ve chosen a type that fits your space, needs, and budget, keep these tips in mind:

    Look for space-stretching features. These include split shelves and cranks for adjusting shelf height. Pull-out shelves provide access to the back of the fridge and freezer. In bottom-freezers, full-extension drawers help you find items in the rear.

    Consider efficiency. Despite advances, refrigerators still use more electricity than other kitchen appliances, since they’re always on. Top- and bottom-freezers are typically more efficient than side-by-sides. Choose a model that scored well for energy efficiency in our tests.

    Think twice about multimedia models. More brands are also pushing $3,000-plus models that include TVs, DVD players, and other features as kitchens become the new living room. But we’ve found you can save hundreds and get better performance by buying a separate refrigerator and flat-screen TV.

    Don’t jump at package deals. While buying a refrigerator with other appliances from the same brand can save you money and help coordinate styling, you’ll probably have less choice, and you could sacrifice refrigerator performance and reliability.

    Choosing Kitchen Appliances – Refrigerators

    Continuing now with refrigerators, we bring you part two of our series on choosing kitchen appliances.  The features that most people consider when looking for a new fridge are storage capacity, ease of use, price and hopefully energy usage.  One of the first things you can do to save energy when purchasing a new appliance of any kind , is to buy one with the Energy Star seal.  A 2007 Energy Star refrigerator uses at least 15 percent less energy than a standard one. 

    HowStuffWorks.com, Consumer Reports and Appliance.net have some tips we’d like to share with you that will help clarify your refrigerator needs.

    While you’ll find an array of refrigerator brands, only a handful of companies actually make these appliances, with essentially similar models under several names. Frigidaire, General Electric, Kenmore, and Whirlpool account for some 75 percent of top-freezer sales and, with Maytag, more than 80 percent of side-by-side purchases.
    You can still get the basic 18-cubic-foot, freezer-on-top model with wire shelves, but the most popular style offers 20 cubic feet of storage; adjustable glass shelves; meat keeper with temperature control; vegetable crisper with humidity control; ice-maker; and door bins.   These typically cost the least and offer more space than comparably sized side-by-sides. Widths typically range from about 30 to 33 inches. Fairly wide refrigerator shelves make it easy to reach the back, though you must bend to reach bottom shelves and drawers. Usable capacity is typically about 80 percent of what’s claimed (about 10 to 25 cubic feet), which brings top-freezers closest to their claims. Price: $400 to $1,200.

    Bottom-freezer brands include Amana, Frigidaire, GE, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Whirlpool. Mainstream companies have introduced high-end brand lines such as Electrolux Icon, Frigidaire Gallery, GE Cafe, Monogram and Profile, Kenmore Elite and Pro, and Whirlpool Gold. These brands cover built-ins: GE (Monogram and Profile), Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Viking. You can also get built-in-style, or cabinet-depth, models from Amana, Bosch, Electrolux, Frigidaire, GE, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool among others. These put refrigerator items at eye level on wide shelves that provide easy access. You’ll have to bend to find items in the freezer, but you’ll typically open the refrigerator much more often. Bottom-freezers tend to cost more than top-freezers and offer less space for their size, however. Widths typically range from 30 to 36 inches. Claimed capacity is up to 26 cubic feet, though usable space is typically a bit less than for top-freezers.

    While most French-door models are 36 inches wide, some are 33 inches, and some offer through-the-door ice and water. Price: $700 to $1,500; $1,600 to $2,000 for French doors. French door fridges, are side-by-side on top with freezers on the bottom and are one of the newer options on the market.

    Side-by-sides are split units that have a freezer on one side and a refrigerator on the other. They’re typically equipped with through-the-door ice and water—among the most requested features—along with temperature-controlled bins and rapid ice-making cycles. Narrow doors that fit tight kitchens are another plus, though most don’t open wide enough to fit pizza boxes and other wide items. High, narrow compartments also make it hard to find items at back. Side-by-sides are typically 32 to 36 inches wide, with claimed capacity of 20 to 30 cubic feet, though we’ve found that only about 65 percent of that space is usable. They’re also pricier than top-freezer models. Price: $800 to $2,000.

    Built-ins are pricey refrigerators that are designed to fit nearly flush with cabinets and counters, and typically comprise bottom-freezers and side-by-sides. Most can accept extra-cost front panels that match other elements of your kitchen. You can even buy a separate refrigerator and freezer mounted together in a 72-inch opening. On the downside, built-ins are wide (36 inches or wider), yet relatively shallow (25 to 26 inches, front to back), making them least-efficient overall. They’ve also been repair-prone in Consumer Reports’ surveys. And at roughly a foot taller than conventional models, they could be hard to fit beneath overhead cabinets. Price: $4,000 to $7,000.

    Cabinet-depth refrigerators are less-shallow, freestanding and offer the look of a built-in for less money. They are available mostly in side-by-side styles, with some top- and bottom-freezers and French-door models available. Many accept extra-cost panels for a custom look, but cabinet-depth models have less usable space than deeper freestanding models and cost more. Price: $1,500 to $3,200.

    Under cabinet refrigerator drawers are among the latest luxuries for kitchens where even the biggest refrigerator simply isn’t enough. But refrigerators drawers tend to be large on price and small on space. They cost little to run because of limited capacity. Price: $1,800 to $3,000.

    How much refrigerator do you need? One rule of thumb says plan on 12 cubic feet for two people and 2 more cubic feet for each additional household member, but other considerations also matter. If you like to stock up during sales, or cook often for crowds, the more room the better. Side-by-side models are easiest to organize, but the smaller models have relatively narrow freezers.  In all cooling sections, look for pull-out, roll-out bins and baskets that make it easy to see everything without having to dig around, squandering energy (yours as well as the refrigerator’s!).  If you’re a serious entertainer, you may want to look into ice makers that fit into the space of a trash compactor and produce large quantities of ice daily.

    Consumer Reports offers this extra advice:

    HOW TO CHOOSE

    Size is usually more important than style, since most new refrigerators must fit in the same space as the old one. Begin by measuring the available space, particularly the width. Include the space you’ll need to open doors, and check that the new fridge you’re considering can fit through halls and doorways.

    Once you’ve chosen a type that fits your space, needs, and budget, keep these tips in mind:

    Look for space-stretching features. These include split shelves and cranks for adjusting shelf height. Pull-out shelves provide access to the back of the fridge and freezer. In bottom-freezers, full-extension drawers help you find items in the rear.

    Consider efficiency. Despite advances, refrigerators still use more electricity than other kitchen appliances, since they’re always on. Top- and bottom-freezers are typically more efficient than side-by-sides. Choose a model that scored well for energy efficiency in our tests.

    Think twice about multimedia models. More brands are also pushing $3,000-plus models that include TVs, DVD players, and other features as kitchens become the new living room. But we’ve found you can save hundreds and get better performance by buying a separate refrigerator and flat-screen TV.

    Don’t jump at package deals. While buying a refrigerator with other appliances from the same brand can save you money and help coordinate styling, you’ll probably have less choice, and you could sacrifice refrigerator performance and reliability.

    Choosing Kitchen Appliances – Ovens, Cooktops and Hoods

    Choosing new appliances is one of the biggest decisions homeowners make when remodeling their kitchens. You can’t make a good choice if you don’t know what’s available and what suits your needs. here’s some advice on choosing your oven or cooktop from appliance.net and HowStuffWorks.com

    First, ovens:

    The traditional range or stove, a single unit with cooktop above and oven below, is an affordable, space-conserving solution still chosen by most homeowners. But it’s just one of the cooking options offered today.

    Some serious home cooks choose commercial-style stoves with six or eight burners instead of four, basting and grilling functions, and built-in warming ovens. (Real commercial stoves pose special challenges, such as special ventilation systems and noncombustible walls and floors, when used in the home, so commercial-style may be easier to live with.) Other people love the new modular cooktops that let you add burners, downdrafts, griddles, deep-fry and steamer units, woks, rotisseries, and grills. And these are just a few examples of what’s available!

    The first decision in range shopping has always been gas versus electric. Many serious cooks prefer gas for its instant response, precise controllability, and lower operating cost over time. Others praise the evenness of electric heat and the lower initial cost of the appliance Today, you can get the best of both heating methods with “dual fuel” ranges that let you mix gas and electric heat sources; for example, gas cooktop burners and an electric convection oven/broiler. Convection ovens, most often electric, use heated air to cook up to twice as fast as conventional ovens that rely on radiant heating action. You can even get a combination microwave/convection oven.

    Electric coils are the most popular kind of electric burners, and the least costly. Smooth-top surfaces are offered with one of three heat source types: radiating electric coils beneath the glass surface, halogen burners, or magnetic-induction elements. All require thick, flat-bottom cookware. If gas is your choice, sealed burners are easiest to clean, and a pilotless ignition system means no hot spot when burners are off. Commercial-style glass stoves offer high BTUs (British thermal units, the measure of cooking heat) and high style. They require heavy-duty ventilation systems.

    What about controls? Controls that are located on the front or on the side of the appliance are most common and convenient, but universal access means just that: While someone in a wheelchair can reach front-situated controls easily, unfortunately, so can a curious toddler. People with young children may prefer controls located on the backsplash, out of reach of exploring fingers. Wherever they’re located, controls should be easy to understand and operate. Top-of-the-line ovens may include electronic temperature readouts and touch-pad, rather than knob or dial, controls.

    There is also the option of under the counter ovens that blend into the kitchen design rather than stand out. Just be sure the oven is designed for under the counter use. This type of oven can have a cooktop installed directly over it or elsewhere in the kitchen. On eof the considerations in choosing a cooktop is ease of cleaning. “For easiest cooktop cleaning, consider ranges with ceramic glass cooktops housing electric or halogen burners; simpler knobs and handles; and a top and backsplash constructed from a single piece of metal, so there’s no seam to collect spills. Self-cleaning ovens come in two varieties: one that uses a high-heat cycle that turns cooked-on spills into ash you can wipe away, another that offers a continuous-clean function.”

    On to hoods:

    If you don’t have a ventilation fan above your cooktop that vents to the attic or outside, you’ll want a range hood with ventilation fan built in. Why? Even if you don’t find some cooking odors objectionable, vaporized grease can dull beautiful new kitchen surfaces, and moisture can compromise the efficiency of home insulation. The solution is an updraft range hood that funnels cooking grease and smoke into one area so that the fan can draw it through a duct to the outside.

    Filters capture additional grease and odors. Look for range hoods that come in copper, stainless steel, and other good-looking, easy-care materials, or customize a standard hood with ceramic tile to create a major focal point, furthering your decorating scheme. As an alternative, down-draft ventilation, usually part of a cooktop or grill, also employs a fan and duct arrangement. Units that rise above cooktop level provide the most effective venting.