Four Tips for Designing with Home Appliances
When choosing appliances, there are a lot of things to consider. Whatever the budget and features you’re looking for, here are a few additional things to add to that list.
How are they rated for noise?
Kitchen appliances in particular can add a lot of noise to the home. Fridges, fans, and dishwashers can be particularly noisy, and when you’re choosing any of these, it’s good to think about how their noise affects people both in and outside of the kitchen.
Appliances are rated either by decibels or sones, which are both measures of sound. Usually fans are measured in sones, and other appliances in decibels. For a point of reference, 30 decibels is the level of a whisper, 60 is a normal conversation, and 82 is a very noisy restaurant.
Dishwashers have long cycles, we usually run them in the evenings when electricity costs are down and dinner is done. This means the dishwasher is often going to run while you are doing your evening activities. Particularly if you have an open floor plan, the noise level of your dishwasher can really affect the quality of life in your home. We strongly recommend prioritizing low decibel ratings when choosing appliances for an open concept kitchen. Yale Appliances has a great post comparing the decibel levels of many popular dishwashers.
The noise produced by your range hood is also a really important thing to consider because it needs to be powerful enough to clear the air but quiet enough that you’re willing to run it while the stove is on. The noise comes mainly from the motor; when manufactured in North America, fan noise is measured in “sones,” but European models may be listed in decibels. In general, look for a fan somewhere between 0.5 and 3 sones if you want a “quiet” fan. You can go a little louder if you are willing to have a fan that is quiet on low but a little bit noisier on high. You may need to do this to ensure that you are moving enough air for the size of your kitchen and type of stovetop. The Kitchen Source has an extensive and excellent blog post on things to consider when choosing a range hood.
What electrical or plumbing hook-ups do they need?
There’s the obvious point that if you want a gas stove, you need a gas line. But as appliances offer more special features, be sure to ask about all installation requirements. For example, if you get a fridge with a built-in ice maker, it needs to be hooked up to plumbing!
Finish and appearance
When you are pricing your appliances, make sure you specify whether you want a regular appliance door or a “panel ready” door. A panel ready door means that you attach a door or drawer fronts and hardware to it so that it looks like all the other kitchen cupboards instead of an appliance. The door and drawer fronts are purchased with the kitchen and installed on site. This works for appliances like dishwashers, warming drawers, freezer drawers and fridges.
With dishwashers, regular doors can have either visible or hidden controls. Hidden controls can give a more integrated look, and might be a nice compromise between a paneled appliance and a standard one, but they do cost more. If you don’t care about the look of the controls, then getting visible ones is a place where you can save some money without compromising quality. Either way, when you’re getting quotes or making your order, make sure you know which one you’re getting!
The dimensions of your appliance don’t always take into account the space that it needs to operate. For example, clothes washers and dryers will need have up to 6 inches added to the depth to make room for venting and hoses. This may not matter if you have a dedicated laundry room, but if you are adding laundry to a kitchen, hall closet, or other more constrained space, this is important to remember. Fridges have required air gaps on either side which can vary from model to model. These are usually covered with filler panels so you can’t see them when the kitchen is complete, but are integral to having the appliance function, and can add up to two inches in width.
Door swings also need to be taken into account. How your fridge, stove, and dishwasher open into the room are going to have an effect on how you can use the space: can they open all the way, do they cut off other cabinets when open, can someone operate the stove or dishwasher while someone else works at the sink or walks through the room?
Putting it all together
How much of this do you have to figure out if you are getting a designer to help plan a kitchen renovation? Well, the sort answer is: as much as you want.
If you want to choose all your appliances yourself, your designer can make them work in a space for you.
If you want to collaborate, you can discuss best options, then source the appliances yourself.
If you’d rather have someone else take care of it, you can tell your designer your budget, how to prioritize the noise minimizing features, and what finish you want. From there, they will be able to source options and present you with a limited list to choose from.
And if you are doing a DIY kitchen renovation, and you want to make sure you’ve chosen good appliances for your needs and layout, you can hire a designer for a short consultation to go over the choices you’ve made and the layout you’re planning.
Do you have questions we haven’t covered? Ask them in the comments! Do you have questions specific to your situation? Contact us and see if a consultation is right for you.