The Appliance Package

Choosing appliances can be either fun or frustrating, depending on what type of person you are. If you’re satisfied to just have decent equipment that won’t break down on you, I imagine searching the broad array of available equipment in stores and online is exasperating. If, however, you love researching features, prices, and new technologies, the whole process can be quite fun. It was fun for me. Here is what we picked and why:

Ovens

Many people will tell you if you’re building a gourmet kitchen, you need two wall ovens. We do a fair bit of cooking, but two wall ovens seemed just a tad excessive. Additionally, we couldn’t find a microwave that didn’t look cheap (seriously, even Wolf microwaves look terrible) so we came up with a great hybrid solution: one GE Monogram ZET1PMSS convection wall oven and one GE Monogram Advantium ZSC2202NSS speed oven. They both look super pro and the speed oven is pretty amazing. It can cook food in four ways, even simultaneously: with standard electric heating elements, with a convection fan, with microwave rays, and with halogen lights. That last bit is the special bit. The halogen lights allow you to enjoy the speed of microwave cooking but still get the crispiness of traditional cooking.

Nobody ever recommends microwaving a steak, but I put a 10-ounce filet mignon in the Advantium and in exactly 10 minutes, it was more or less perfectly cooked (the steak setting uses all four modes of cooking).

With this solution, we have two ovens when we need them, one microwave that doesn’t look cheap, a special way of speed cooking, and the whole setup only takes up two spaces in the kitchen island.

Cooktop

As discussed in Thinking About Induction Cooking, we thought about induction cooking. In fact, we thought so highly of it that we eschewed gas and went for the GE Monogram ZHU36RSMSS 36″ Induction Cooktop in silver. It’s been a perfect purchase so far, doing everything we expected and more. It’s quiet, safe, energy efficient, easy to clean, attractive, and oh so fast. My favorite “house demo” to do so far is pouring a quarter inch of water into a frying pan and watching it boil in under 10 seconds on the induction cooktop.

We didn’t have a whole lot of good cookware to begin with, so we purchased a set of Pro-Clad Emerilware from HSN and a couple of Le Creuset pots to make the most of the cooktop.

If you’re stuck using an electric cooktop or are thinking about putting in a gas one, do yourself a favor and check out induction. Thanks to my buddy Jim Ray of Salt and Fat for the initial recommendation and peer pressure.

Dishwasher

Based on the advice of some friends and family, we ended up choosing a Miele Optima G2472SCVI dishwasher over our previous frontrunner, Bosch. It’s very quiet and the rack space is arranged intelligently and flexibly. I don’t really have any complaints about it besides the user interface being a little, umm, austere. Thankfully you don’t really use the UI of a dishwasher too often, but it looks like it was designed ten years ago. We got a fully integrated model, meaning there are no visible buttons or surfaces (it just looks like another cabinet). I do wish the little red light that tells you the thing is on shined on the floor instead of the underside of the cabinet, but oh well. All in all, it seems like a solid dishwasher so far.

Side note: Dishwashers were probably the most infuriating appliance to research. Almost every manufacturer’s site, especially Bosch and Miele, are atrociously designed and impossible to get any useful comparison information from.

Kitchen Hood

Kitchen hoods can be the biggest ripoff of all household appliances. It’s basically a fan surrounded by some steel and these things can get into the $5000 range. Rubberduckulous. Via the recommendation of Build, we went with the sharp, understated Zephyr ZRME36BS Roma island hood. It was “only” about a thousand dollars and it’s worked great so far. It sucks a lot of air, looks great above the cooktop, and doesn’t attract fingerprints too easily.

Refrigerator

Refrigerators are one of those items you’re really best of consulting Consumer Reports for, so we did. There are just a lot of things about fridges that you can’t easily test out yourself (like how evenly they cool or how long they last without repairs) and CR has already done this work for you. Just about the only things we knew going in were that we wanted a french-door-bottom-freezer model because the layout was so convenient and that we wanted ice and water on the outside of the door. Thankfully, Consumer Reports’ top-rated model, the Samsung RFG237AARS French Door refrigerator, fit the bill perfectly. We had originally spec’d the full depth model which is several cubic feet larger, but because of how the kitchen was designed, we had to switch to the counter-depth model. So far it’s been a great fridge, although we will admit to still wishing we had been able to fit the full-depth version.

When people ask me what type of fridge I got and I answer Samsung, it often elicits puzzled looks. Usually people think of big Sub Zeros and Vikings when they think of gourmet kitchens, but read the reviews… they aren’t great. The Samsung provided us all we needed: an attractive, well designed, well reviewed fridge with all of the features we wanted for an affordable price.

Washer and dryer

Much like fridges, washers and dryers are too complicated to fully understand without the help of a place like Consumer Reports. Since we put our machines upstairs, right next to the master bedroom, our number one concern was picking the quietest washer/dryer pair on the market. The number two concern after that was how well the machines laundered clothes, and the final concern was durability. In the end, it came down to either the Electrolux EWFLS70JIW (and matching dryer) or the Samsung WF448AAW Washer and DV448AEW Dryer. We loved the Electrolux user interface and purported 18-minute “short cycle”, but according to all reports, the Samsungs were simply the quietest machines on the market and had a longer track record of reliability.

So far, the Samsungs have been spectacular. We’ve even grown to love the happyfun Korean melodies they play when they’re done with their cycles. They also have something called SilverCare which needs to be seen to be believed. Watch this Consumer Reports video test of the technology.

All in all, we’re very happy with all of the appliances we’ve chosen. Thanks also to Albert Lee Appliance Company for providing all of the non-GE appliances (I get an employee discount for the GE stuff since I work at msnbc.com). They matched or beat all online prices that I quoted over the phone to them, and as a result, got all of my business (hint: do this!).

Costs accrued during this stage:

GE Monogram 30" Convection Single Wall Oven (ZET1PMSS)$2,667.00
GE Monogram Built-In Oven with Advantium (ZSC2202NSS)$2,437.00
GE Monogram 36" Induction Cooktop (ZHU36RSMSS)$2,273.00
GE 4 year extended warrantees$328.00
Miele Optima dishwasher (G2472SCVI)$1,805.00
Zephyr Roma island hood (ZRME36BS)$999.00
Samsung Washer (WF448AAW)$1,299.00
Samsung Electric Dryer (DV448AEW)$1,192.00
Samsung French Door refrigerator (RFG237AARS)$2,206.00
Delivery charge for GE appliances$50.00
Driptite custom washer/dryer pan$141.00

21 Responses to “The Appliance Package”

  1. Kevin Says:

    If you are looking for more kitchen gear (pots, pans, utensils), I recommend Alton Brown’s Gear For Your Kitchen. Not gourmet, but an excellent book.

  2. Jack Says:

    The photos look incredible. That GE oven sounds like some sort of strange technological marvel, I’ve never heard of anything like it. It reminded me of all the microwave jokes they make on 30 Rock.

  3. DM Says:

    Personally, I think anything is better than the old-school coil stove. I’m generally a fan of induction (and think that’s what everyone will eventually end up with), but one advantage of gas is that it works when the power goes out.

    Though as long as you have a barbecue that’s not too big of a deal. :)

  4. Mike D. Says:

    Kevin: Nice. Alton Brown, the author of that book, was the original guy pimping those Advantium ovens. Can’t find the videos anymore though.

    DM: Yep, got a BBQ right outside the kitchen for emergency gas needs.

  5. troyd Says:

    My experience with Albert Lee was similar to Mike’s. I also quoted online prices to Albert Lee for my Weber Genesis S320 grill. I told them I preferred to buy from a local company. Not only did they beat the (online) prices, but they assembled the grill, delivered the grill, offered to remove my old one, threw in a cover, and gave me the rotisserie at cost. Needless to say, I plan to purchase lots more from our friends at Albert Lee.

  6. Byron Says:

    Lighting got us — that’s a whole world that we just didn’t went to delve into.

  7. Paolo Says:

    Just came upon your blog today and can’t tell you how awesome it is that you went through the time to post such useful information. We are getting ready to build our own custom modern home and your experiences and advice are already helpful. The entire blog is a great read, thanks.

    If you don’t mind, a couple of questions:

    - The garage door – looks like wood, is it real wood or fiberglass faux wood? Happy with your choice? Manufacturer?
    - The roof – did you use IB Roof (50mil rubber membrane) or something similar? Any feedback is helpful as we will be have a flat roof as well.

    Cheers and thanks for the RSS links as well

  8. Paolo Says:

    Oops, forgot one more:

    That beautiful front door – manufacturer?

  9. Hi Paolo:

    The garage door is an insulated flush panel door faced with Luan wood- this is the typical wood that is used for garage doors in our area. Although not a wood that I would typically specify, it stains well to an appearance similar to the cedar elsewhere on the house. Our supplier/ installer was “Select Garage Door”.

    For the waterproof membrane under the roof deck, we used GAP Freedom TPO vinyl roofing. All other roofing was 24 gauge Taylor standing seam metal over ice/ water shield.

    The front door is a VG fir veneer door that was supplied by Compton Lumber and Hardware. I believe that Simpson Door was probably the fabricator of the actual door panel.

    Good luck with your project.

    Kevin, Principal BUILD LLC
    Architect and Construction Manager

  10. zane Says:

    love the blog + using it as a baseline for our own project…if we would ever close…

    Question- All great info, but where is the discussion about the kitchen faucet?

    …maybe it’s just us, but that’s the one piece of equipment each of the fam toils with everyday.

    Any good recommendations? And by good I mean sexy and relatively inexpensive…feel free to chime in others! Cheers!

  11. Vashon Says:

    Your happyfun Korean melody on the washing machine is Schubert’s Forelle (The Trout).

  12. Mike D. Says:

    Zane: The kitchen faucet is the Hansgrohe Interaktiv Talis. I like it a lot. About $300.

    Vashon: Awesome!

  13. Jennifer Says:

    I have slightly different Samsung appliances (the 419 series washer and dryer and the 297 series fridge). I’m totally dorky for the happy melodies. They make me want to do laundry. Anyway, good appliance choices! You’ve inspired me to take a look at an induction cook top.

  14. Byron Says:

    dude, you totally copied us on the hood so we shall copy you on the samsung.

  15. Paul C. Says:

    great blog. thanks for sharing all the details. I look forward to coming back and reading it all. wish I knew about your blog before my recent remodel.
    awesome looking house. enjoy.

  16. Hi Mike,

    Followed the blog last year – year before last now, I guess – and am about to purchase new appliances for a new house. Just wondering how your choices are doing a year or more on – still happy with them?

    Thanks!

    Rob.

  17. Mike D. Says:

    Hi Rob. Yep, still very happy with them. Wouldn’t change a thing.

  18. Ashish Aleti Says:

    Hi Mike,

    I see that you have the Miele Dishwasher and the GE monogram microwave. how has your experience been with these two appliances. we plan to get them from these manufacturers but a different model. So far i haven’t found any credible reviews, Hence any information such as ease of use, if any issues with the product etc.. that you can pass on would be of much help

    thanks

    Ashish

  19. Ashish Aleti Says:

    Almost forgot .. we also planned to get the same washer dryer from samsung. your 2cents would also help

    thanks

    Ashish

  20. Mike D. Says:

    Ashish: The GE Monogram stuff has been flawless. I would say I’m also happy with the Miele, although we have had a few issues where it hasn’t cleaned glasses well enough. I think that might be user error though… it’s possible we overpacked the machine and stopped one of the rotors from rotating. Overall I’d still recommend it. The silverware tray on top is key. If you want to go cheaper, maybe look at a Bosch. As for the washer/dryer, there have been a few random issues like the sensor sometimes thinking clothes are bone dry when they aren’t yet, but aside from that, very solid machines. My main factor in buying the Samsungs was noise, and they are whisper-quiet.

  21. Lance Root Says:

    Hi Mike, a very cool blog — thanks so much for sharing. I love the house, too. I’ve bought my home in San Clemente, CA and am now working with a designer — he does the plans, but farms out the engineering. Anyway, like I read on your blog, somewhat clueless when it comes to a realistic budget and listening, so I’m glad to learn I’m not alone in that respect. Most helpful for me, is that you’ve included costs as that is very difficult to obtain when one typically sees a house in “Dwell” or other publications. Again, very cool — thanks for passing along the valuable nuggets.