Although the cabinet system is typically the kitchen specialist’s largest profit center, many clients first focus on the appliance package for their new dream kitchens. By expanding your knowledge about appliance engineering innovations, and moving beyond predictable equipment placement recommendations, you can “outsmart” less professional – more cost-conscious – competitors who pay little attention to appliance details.
Homeowners who love to cook may highly value units that offer a specific function. Over the past few years, a dramatic explosion of options in all appliance categories has led to these “point-of-use” offerings. Being familiar with these appliances, and able to present them as part of your proposal (or as options to the proposal), is a great approach for planning kitchens for 2011 and beyond.
Changes have taken place over the last 10 years around what families need to refrigerate or freeze. For many busy families, a weekend cooking extravaganza can result in carefully preserved meals for weekday dinners that need to be frozen.
There seems to be an explosion of the types of beverages families keep on hand. Additionally, trend watchers have commented on younger families’ interest in buying local, fresh products.
These cooking and food preference changes have led to the development of separate “tower” refrigerator and freezer appliances, as well as a wide variety of specialized equipment designed to be placed under a worktop counter.
Yet, many designers disregard these new products and simply include one tall 30"-to-48"-wide multipurpose refrigerator/freezer appliance. Here are some ideas that might add a spark of ingenuity to your plan.
Consider separating the refrigerator from the freezer, or prioritizing one so that only the most important food preservation appliance is within the heart of the kitchen. A smaller all-refrigerator appliance combined with an under-cabinet drawer-type freezer might be ideal in a small kitchen.
When suggesting secondary under-counter refrigeration systems, find out if the family has a single type of item planned for this new appliance, or if they might be better served by a “multitasking” appliance. For example, is a wine storage unit the best choice – or is a more flexible refrigerator unit a better idea?
Help the client balance capacity expectations with flexibility. Is the goal to store several varieties of drinks/wines in an under-counter refrigerator, with no need for ice production? Or, is ice important to the family?
Suggest to the consumer that a separate area (oftentimes called a “wet bar”) might be more versatile if it becomes a “hospitality center.” If a sink and faucet are planned, consider adding a built-in coffee maker and an under-cabinet refrigerator (with or without ice). Adding sturdy storage for normal food stuffs, as opposed to fancy glasses, might turn this area into the breakfast bar or the children’s refreshment area.
From a design standpoint, pay particular attention to the door swing and exterior finish appearance (some under-counter wine storage units cannot receive a panel), and think about the elevation alignment between the refrigerator door/drawer appliance and adjacent cabinetry.
The Cooking Center
New touchpad control panels, time-saving heat transference systems, cooking appliances that combine convection/microwave energy with induction cooking and specialty appliances such as steam ovens that focus on healthy eating are just a few of the new options you need to be familiar with.