The look and utility of any kitchen is greatly influenced by the appliances selected. With so many options available, there are a variety of factors that influence the selection of appliances.
“Generally it’s about customising to your lifestyle. This can cover the look, for example built-in units, time-saving through new technology features and conservation savings through energy, food storage and preservation and cooking needs such as whether you cook frequently for large groups and multi-tasking,” says Theresa Leacock Broderick, director of marketing and finance for BrandSource.
The clean look than can be achieved with built-in appliances, as well as the greater functionality that often accompanies it, is having a strong influence on decision making.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in built-in double ovens and microwaves, larger refrigerators and definitely the desire to upgrade to front-load laundry,” Broderick continues.
When it comes to finishes, stainless steel is still very popular. Even though some have been prophesying its decline for years, there seems no end in sight to the popularity of the clean, industrial look the finish provides.
“It’s almost the new standard but again there are also more economic stainless finishes available,” says Broderick.
Another option that is proving popular is panelling appliances in the same finish as the cabinetry, thereby allowing it to disappear into the cabinets and present a much cleaner look.
Protecting the environment through the use of appliances that conserve energy and water has also become an important factor for many customers, although there are some who are still reluctant.
According to Broderick, there is an increase in consumer awareness.
“Overall users are still attracted to convenience features and sometimes they just need to understand that paying a little more for a higher model will actually cost less in the long run in savings in energy and water usage and they get the convenient and specialty features they love,” she says.
Some people love cooking, and consequently always need a large selection of ready ingredients close at hand. For such individuals it makes sense to have a big fridge/freezer combo, or even separate fridge and freezer units in order to provide sufficient storage space.
“Refrigerators drawers are also a premium preference and great for busy kitchens with the need for more refrigerated handy storage,” Broderick says.
However, not every home owner is a gifted cook. A smaller apartment may well be better served by an under-the-counter fridge, as it will lend a more open feel to the space while still providing enough space for the essentials.
“There are real savings from less food spoilage with better food preservation resulting from new technology in refrigeration climate and humidity controls and zones,” Broderick says.
Adding more appliances to the kitchen could also increase convenience and add much needed storage space.
“Wine and beverage centres are available from a countertop model to a customised built-in models and everything in between,” Broderick says.
Many smaller appliances that traditionally cluttered the countertop are also becoming available in built-in models.
“There are built-in grind and brew coffee makers for those seeking the ultimate coffee and convenience,” Broderick says.
Dishwashers are also going through changes, with dual drawer units becoming more popular. Unlike traditional dishwashers where even a couple of plates use the same amount of water as a regular wash, the dual drawer units allow one drawer to be washed by itself, saving water and making it a very attractive option for couples without children or people who live on their own and therefore do not generate many dirty dishes. The two drawers can also be set to different wash cycles, thereby protecting more delicate items in one drawer, while still cleaning more grimy items in the other.
When it comes to new technology, cooktops have made the biggest strides over the last couple of years.
Although the electric ceramic cooktops are still the most popular, induction cook tops have been gaining popularity as well.
An induction cooktop offers a number of advantages over traditional cooktops. It is safer, as the cooktop itself does not heat up, only the pot that is used for cooking. The heat response is also much more akin to gas than to a regular electric cooktop. However, the technology is still quite a bit more expensive than electric ceramic cooktops.
“Gas cooktops are often the preference for serious cooks for the greater heating control it offers and for some who may be more conscious of possible energy savings,” Broderick says.
Many of the technological improvements in modern appliances lead not only to energy savings, but also time savings. New oven technology can obtain the same results much faster.
Many appliances also include features such as delayed start, allowing a dishwasher or washing machine to start automatically while en you are not at home, thereby not disturbing your time at home.
“For the ultimate in convenience, there are now automatic dispenser systems for detergents in laundry and dishwashers,” according to Broderick.
As a factory direct dealer for GE, Electrolux, Frigidaire and Fisher & Paykel appliances, BrandSource can deliver competitive prices on these brands.
“With the benefits of manufacturers’ warranty, with our guarantee for delivering undamaged, correct models and commitment to after-sales installation and service, there’s simply no logic to shopping overseas for appliances,” Broderick says.