Kitchen Appliance Pieces
One of the first Austin inspired kitchen remodel ideas is to expand your appliance purchase past the standard four kitchen appliance pieces (Refrigerator, Range, Microwave, Dishwasher). Austin homeowners tend to be foodies by nature, so the kitchen is truly the heart of the home. Since the appliances are the workhorse of the kitchen it important to start planning your layout by which key pieces you hope to incorporate. Remember to put together a comprehensive kitchen remodeling plan before you begin to purchase materials or appliances! Here are some of our favorite appliance pieces to consider:
Cooktop - There are a variety of styles and heating options with this fun appliance. Gas and Electric (which is now typically glass top vs the old coil style burners) are the old standby options. Induction cooktops are now also gaining popularity. In addition to the heating method options, there are a variety of burner options (number, size, style), control options (location on the side, front, or vertical surface of the cooktop), and functional options such as having a built in griddle.
Wall Ovens - Why break your back when cooking? The ergonomics of wall ovens are more advantageous for maneuvering food and visually checking progress. There are a variety of configurations to consider including single or double wall ovens, warming drawers and microwave/wall oven combinations.
Range - If you must have a range, either due to layout/size consideration or personal preference, we encourage you to purchase one of the slide in options where the controls are on the front. This will allow you to place the range in an island, or to use a designer backsplash application. It also has the added bonus of allowing you to control temperature without having to reach over hot or steaming pots and pans. If you have kiddos, you will obviously need to consider options for keeping them safe, as the controls would also be a closer reach for little hands.
Microwave Alternatives - Over the range microwaves do not scream "gourmet", "chef", or "designer kitchen remodel". Additionally if you are microwaving some items while using the range to cook or bake others, you will be standing immediately in front of a running microwave. Potentially not a great idea for health reasons. Relocate the microwave to a cabinet, or consider a microwave drawer. Consider locations that are a bit removed from where the chef and others congregate. Additionally some higher end appliance companies have released steam based systems that are similar in size and function to the microwave, but which offer healthier heating options.
Vent Hood - The over the range microwave does double duty has a vent hood for the range. The air is either recirculated back into the room or up through a vent that leads to the exterior of the home. Since we propose removing the over the range microwave, you will then need to purchase a vent hood. Vent hoods come in a variety of styles. Make sure you understand which options are intended for use against a wall and which are intended for use in an island. A downdraft vent is also an option if you want to maintain the visual openness of the kitchen.
Dishwasher - Dishwasher technology continues to evolve. Dishwasher drawers in general were found to have performance issues, so as of this post that design has been set aside by many manufacturers for the time being. Since standard dishwasher design and layout is fairly similar across manufacturers, the key factors to look for are sound output, interior component materials and how the water moves through the dishwasher in order to clean the contents. Innovative new features, such as Samsung's water wall technology, are reinventing how dishes get clean.
Refrigerator/Freezer - This is one of the signature pieces of a kitchen. The design and interior layout of this kitchen appliance is perhaps the most critical to a successful kitchen. The refrigerator is the hub of almost any meal. Proper design here can prevent food waste and ease the process of efficient meal preparation and planning.
There are two options when it comes to depth - Counter Depth and Standard. Counter depth typically offers less cubic feet of storage space and also comes at a higher cost. Sometimes this is necessary for tight layouts. Other times counter depth is used to minimize the visual dominance of the refrigerator jutting significantly past the cabinets. If you prefer the larger option, you can sometime recess the refrigerator into an adjacent space to give the appearance that its near flush with the cabinets while maintaining the space. Organization is key. If you are always losing items in the back of the refrigerator, you may want to consider alternatives.
Traditional door design options include side-by-side, french door, and top/bottom configurations. New designs are also starting to emerge. We really like the layout of Samsung's four door flex design, where one of the lower compartments can be utilized as either a freezer or a refrigerator. This is a great option if you have a separate freezer in the garage or other location for storing bulk items and large pizza boxes. If you have a rather large kitchen, you could also consider separate full size freezer and refrigerators.
Beverage/Wine Fridge - This is a great addition if you do a lot of entertaining or need additional space for cold beverage storage. Taking this element out of your primary refrigerator also helps to free up space for other groceries and keeps everything more organized. Additionally, if you locate this appliance appropriately, you will keep some of the family/guest foot traffic out of your way when preparing meals.
Kitchen Appliance Features
The number of features to consider if far beyond the scope of this post. Just be aware that most kitchen appliance designs have multiple model numbers with different levels of features. Pay attention to those differences so that you understand what you are buying and what the various price points in that design will get you. Make sure to record the model numbers you like in order to keep your notes organized as you research your options. See if you or your kitchen appliance provider can use a "compare" feature to line up similar products side by side.
Kitchen Appliance Color Options
Would you like your kitchen appliances to be white, black or stainless steel? After all, those are the standard color options offered by most kitchen appliance manufacturers. These neutral color options certainly help protect future resale of your home, but what if your looking for something more daring? Well the early signals show that greater kitchen appliance color options are likely coming. Several large manufacturers have dipped a toe in this area by releasing a sleek update to the traditional stainless steel appliances. GE has a matte finish called Slate that resembles the finish of a rock. KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung have also released their versions of black stainless. These still have the sheen of traditional stainless steel, but with a darker hue. This seems to follow trends seen with jewelry and even Apple smart watches where this color has been gaining popularity.
The down side is that none of the four brands offer a complete suite of kitchen appliance pieces as of the writing of this post. This can greatly limit your design options (e.g. having to install a range instead of a cooktop and wall ovens). However, you could make a daring attempt at mixing finishes with the help of an interior designer. Otherwise, we would advise that you wait until the market for alternative kitchen appliance colors catches up. For truly bold color choices, you'll need to look beyond mainstream, or even US based manufacturers. Expect to pay top dollar as well since the economies of scale are not there for more unique hues. Consider vintage finds if you want to apply true retro Austin kitchen remodel ideas.
Prefer to try your hand at a disappearing act? Well you're in luck! Higher end appliance manufacturers also have select kitchen appliance styles that can be paneled to match your custom cabinets. This creates a near seamless look that touts luxury.
Think Outside the Box
Form and function must join together to create a successful kitchen remodel. As you are learning about the numerous appliances and fixtures that can be incorporated into a kitchen remodel, you will also need to evaluate your ability to fit them all into the existing floor plan...and into the budget. Therefore our next Austin inspired kitchen remodel idea is to think outside the box!
You are not limited to just updating your finishes. In many cases, walls can move, plumbing can be relocated, windows can be enlarged and square footage can be added. The sky's the limit, so take the time to dream about what you home could be and then work with an Austin Remodeling Contractor to bring that vision to life.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) publishes kitchen design guidelines that can help improve the functional layout of any kitchen remodel. Preexisting conditions or personal preferences may hinder the ability to follow every guideline to the letter, but they are worthy of consideration when planning the layout for your kitchen remodel.
You can also view numerous unique kitchen layout designs by viewing our kitchen ideabook on our Houzz profile. Love to entertain? Consider ways to incorporate indoor/outdoor living by adding a window path through that doubles as an outdoor bar seating area. Have cramped quarters? Look for ways to combine your kitchen and breakfast nook to maximize the use of every square foot of space.
Signature Style Kitchen Remodel
The next kitchen remodel idea inspired by Austin is to "Keep it Weird". Don't be afraid to make a bold choice, either in style, color, texture or features. Just about anything goes in Austin. If you find a tile you love for the backsplash, consider options for building your kitchen remodel around it. Push the design boundaries and reveal your personality through your kitchen remodel. Make a statement and you may just find your kitchen remodel featured in Houzz or on the cover of a magazine. If you do the same as everyone else, it may be beautiful, but it will be hard to standout from the crowd.
If you are thinking about selling your home, opt for things that will be easier and less expensive for a future home owner to change. For example paint a bold accent wall instead of painting the cabinets. If you fall in love with an taste specific countertop, consider using it just on the island. Its still your home (at least for now), so make it yours and enjoy every day you spend in the kitchen!
Make a Splash
The backsplash is a popular place to express your unique style. This kitchen remodel idea focuses on the use of color, texture and reflectivity to add visual interest. There are a variety of materials and applications that can serve as a backsplash. You no longer have to be saddled to the turned up countertop that is frequently found in cookie cutter homes. Additionally large format tiles typically won't add much in terms of style.
If your countertop has a lot of movement in the design, you may want to opt for a toned down backsplash. A growing trend in Austin is to use back painted glass from countertop to upper cabinets. This provides a clean look and is also easy to clean! The sheen of the glass can also help to bounce light around the room. The color of the glass can match nearly any paint color imaginable. You can also get back painted glass outlet covers to finish the look.
Small to medium mosaic tiles come in a variety of colors and materials and are a popular choice for creating a custom look. Make sure to invest in quality tiles, as well as selecting a quality tile setter. Mosaic tiles typically come on small mesh sheets. Those mesh sheets have some flex in them. If the proper application techniques are not applied you will see variability in the final product.
If you opt for a simple subway tile backsplash, consider a unique design application to add interest. Subway tiles also now come in additional sizes and colors, so explore your options.
Ensure your backsplash, countertop, cabinets and flooring come together for a harmonious look. Most vendors will let you take, or purchase, a sample of your desired finishes so that you can lay them out in your home. Remember that lighting will also play a role, so if you are updating your kitchen lighting or enlarging your windows, the final product may look different.
Stay tuned for future posts on more Austin kitchen remodel ideas you can apply to your next project!