Choosing (& Reviewing) Kitchen Appliances

Making a budget for a kitchen renovation is quite the puzzle. You start with the total amount that you have to spend, then happily divide it between cabinets, appliances, and countertops, (oh sweet! let’s get a Wolf range. oh wait…) only to realize you have to add a few more items in the budget like plumbing, lighting, gas line, flooring, window treatments, and trash removal. We knew that for the quality of kitchen we wanted on our budget, we’d have to learn how to DIY!

We maintained a running spreadsheet to keep track of all the expenses as they poured in and we hemorrhaged money for two months. Fortunately we did not go over budget, and keeping up with the spreadsheet was crucial to that.

Pat really made all the decisions on the appliances. He’s been the primary cook since we got married, and he enjoys doing research on such things. For a while we thought about mixing up brands because we wanted a higher end range but cared less about the refrigerator, but the in-house kitchen planner at Lowe’s informed us that all brands have slightly different finishes and we would not be happy with the different appearances. Good to know! We settled on GE and are here to report on how our choices have fared over the past 6ish months.


1. Refrigerator – The layout of the fridge is good. There are a decent number of crisper drawers (2 small, one large) and door storage is adequate, though removing the ice is somewhat difficult. The shelves are easily adjustable, and temperature (to the degree F) and humidity is also easy to manage. No complaints on the freezer part. The exterior is a pain to clean, so I wish we had gone for the smudge-proof doors. There’s also a “hidden” display showing temperature of fridge/freezer that only appears when you want to change it, which is nice.  Overall score: 8/10

2. Dishwasher – I didn’t even know dishwashers could be this nice. The stainless steel interior makes it so quiet we can hardly tell if it is running at all! The third rack is so handy – it’s where we wash all the little silicone parts to sippy cups, pacifiers, chop sticks, spatulas – all the items we used to smash between cups. There are bottle jets, the height of the top rack can be adjusted so we have not had a problem fitting either tall glassware or larger pans (just not on the same cycle). The settings include washing the top or bottom rack only and delaying the cycle by up to 12 hours. Also, there is a setting to run a separate bottle wash cycle so that those jets get even more time and pressure. As a plus, even though Bradley likes to play with the buttons as they make pretty fun beeps, he is not able to start it accidentally (it requires two presses of “Start,” and the controls are on top, meaning little fingers can only reach them when open). The one complaint is (once again) the exterior is tough to keep clean. Overall score: 9/10

3. Range – This was picked to be the show stopper of the kitchen, and it has not disappointed. The burners are awesome and feel really nice to use. (You can feel the change from Medium to Low – how neat is that?) The griddle has been convenient, though we did not realize how easy it was to scratch. We love having both a convection oven and a conventional oven in the same space. Being a slide-in makes it so sleek. The amount of total cooking space is also very big, since the grates go all the way to the edge of the range. We would absolutely buy this again. Overall score: 9.5/10

4. Microwave – This purchase seems so fancy I feel a little ridiculous that we paid so much money for a microwave but it is SO COOL. When we designed the kitchen, we desperately needed more counter space but didn’t want to put the microwave above the range (sacrificing the quality of the range hood air flow by a LOT) or in the pantry. The sensor functions (press “Reheat” and it heats up leftovers until they’re hot, instead of for a certain amount of time!) work very well. The only annoying thing is that when you’re heating something 5 seconds at a time and need to check it, it takes several seconds for the door to open/close. It’s a lot of money to spend on a microwave, but it saved us 27″ of counter space in a prime location.   Overall score: 8/10

5. Faucet – The convenience of having a touch-activated faucet has spoiled us! We love the height and the pull-down wand. We did install the matching soap dispenser, which is easy to refill and helps keep the counter free of clutter. Unfortunately, the soap dispenser does not have a very long spout. If we did it again, we’d make sure to tell the countertop installer to drill the hole closer to the edge of the sink so that getting soap would be a bit more convenient. Batteries for the touch-sensor should last around two years. There is also an LED light at the base that shows the temperature of the water (red or blue) and which blinks when the batteries are low. Overall score: 10/10

6. Pot Filler – I don’t know why this is considered a specialty item. It is so convenient – especially now that we are literally always preparing food with a toddler on one hip – to not have to walk a pot of water across the room. Even if it is just a few steps, doing things one-handed is tricky! We choose this to match the sink faucet, and have not been disappointed. #normalizepotfillers Overall score: 10/10

7. Range Hood – It’s fine. Not insane air flow, but very good. It’s not super quiet. But, it’s GE’s only model in this style, and we were positive about how we wanted it to look. Our biggest complaint is that the metal piece that covers the actual vent pipe is way too short for a normal installation. They recommend a range of acceptable heights for installing the hood, and the metal cover is only long enough if you mount the hood in the highest recommended position – which is far too high. That’s actually a huge deal for this item, because we had to spend an additional $300 getting one custom made by a local metal fabricator. Overall score: 6/10

8. Sink – (not pictured) Pat wanted to find the biggest sink possible for the cabinet space we had. It is so big that the lady at Lowe’s was convinced we’d have to send it back or go for a bigger cabinet (thankfully she was wrong!). It’s basically just a big sink, but the most notable thing is that it is seamless. So we don’t have to worry about cleaning all around the stamped “in-sink-erator” piece, which always ends up dirty/rusty anyway. We also agree it just looks nicer this way. Overall score: 10/10

9. Food Disposal – (not pictured) Finally, we don’t have to stop our conversation while the disposal is on! This is a two-stage disposal, which means it grinds and then liquefies the food before it goes down the pipes! It is so quiet – the sound of the faucet water hitting the sink is about the same volume as the garbage disposal. Amazing. Overall Score: 10/10

There was certainly a lot of hemming and hawing to reach the decision on appliances, but once we had those boxes checked off, figuring out the cabinets was a lot easier. Stay tuned!